CMR and the Deficit Scam

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers is a creature of Republican/Libertarian ideology. Mr. Trump is her “positive disruptor.” She is “excited” about the “momentum” of the slim Republican majority in passing a Tax Cut (80% of which benefits the rich), repealing pieces of the Affordable Care Act, and “opening up” the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. (See In Her Own Words) The only vote she cast in this 115th Congress (2017-2018) that ran counter to the Republican majority in the House was against gutting the Americans with Disabilities Act. That is the exception that proves the rule. (Read: The ADA, What HR620 says of our Rep and the Republican Party

After passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, McMorris Rodgers stated time and time again it would “put money in your pocket,” even though the vast majority of the money taken from the treasury by the Act went to corporations and the already wealthy. The Congressional Budget Office and most economists said the Act would balloon the federal deficit by more than a trillion dollars over ten years. 

Last Monday, the U.S. Treasury announced the federal deficit swelled 17% in the federal fiscal year (October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018), driven by a sharp decline in corporate tax revenues (from the same corporations that are busy using their windfall to buy back their own stock).I suppose it should come as no surprise that Republicans quickly got out to inform the nation that the problem was “entitlements,” certainly not the tax cut. Oh, no. Couldn’t be that.

Listen to Mitch McConnell, quoted from The Hill:

“It’s disappointing but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell told Bloomberg News. “It’s a bipartisan problem.”

McConnell said the true culprit behind the rising deficits was mandatory spending.

“The three big entitlement programs that are very popular, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, that’s 70 percent of what we spend every year,” he said in a separate interview with Bloomberg TV. “There’s been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs.”

It is as if the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act never happened. A deficit is an imbalance of income and expenditures, and the Republican Party just passed a massive income giveaway 80 percent of which went to the rich. Did McConnell or McMorris Rodgers ever balance a household budget? Where is their acknowledgement of the income side? On Sunday, October 14, in the Spokesman McMorris Rodgers wrote how we must curtail spending. She is part of Republican Congressional leadership with McConnell. How long after the election (if she stays in office and in the majority) will it be before they both use the ballooning deficit as an excuse to attack Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?

The Republican Party lost all claim to fairness and fiscal responsibility with their Party-line passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Now they want us to forget what they did and nod approvingly as they use the deficit they’ve inflated as justification for dismantling the social programs that support the dignity of struggling Americans.

Apparently, trashing the Affordable Care Act wasn’t enough. If the voters leave McMorris Rodgers and her people in power after the midterms, watch what happens. It won’t be pretty.

Keep to the high ground,


CMR’s Tax Backfill Attempt

Dear Group,

As we approach the midterm elections McMorris Rodgers (and the Republican/Libertarians in general) are firing up the machinery for some serious backfilling.

On September 28, while the entire nation (and quite a lot of the rest of the world) was glued to the spectacle of the Kavanaugh hearings, McMorris Rodgers and her ilk in the House of Representatives quietly passed a bill, H.R. 6760: Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018. The Republican Policy Committee’s summary of the bill states: “H.R. 6760 would make permanent the tax provisions for individuals and pass-through entities in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that otherwise be [sic] sunset after 2025…” There is no mention this would add to the budget deficit and there is no discussion of an offset. (See the P.S. below.)

With H.R. 6760 the Republicans are trying to establish plausible deniability for a grievous error of their own making with H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” in December 2017. They are trying hard to backfill a hole they dug for themselves. Let me explain.

McMorris Rodgers and her Republican colleagues were really excited over their partisan success in ramming the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” through the U.S. Senate. To do so they used a legislative loophole to avoid needing to compromise with Democrats. Trump was delighted to sign it. McMorris Rodgers immediately began talking up her accomplishment at every opportunity with the words, “Money in your pocket.” The trouble is, the money that was supposed to appear in “your” pocket was only about 20% of more than a trillion dollars the Act is expected to add to the federal deficit in the next ten years. The other 80% went to to corporations and the already wealthy. Worse, the Republicans started talking to their base about how the deficit (which they just exploded) was going to require them to “tackle entitlements,” i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This has not played well to a angry electorate—and it shouldn’t. 

There was another glaring flaw in the Act. Belatedly, the Republican leadership (including McMorris Rodgers) has realized their disingenuous “Money in your Pocket” sales job convinced almost no one outside their loyal base. Worse, they realized they were nakedly vulnerable on another point. In their haste to get the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed (while completely shutting out Democrats from the deliberations) they had to use the “budget reconciliation” loophole to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Using budget reconciliation required they balance the numbers. They chose to do so by making the corporate tax cuts permanent while letting the individual “money in your pocket” provisions (for the common folk)  expire in seven years. Their corporate donors wouldn’t stand for the “uncertainty” of having it the other way around. “Uncertainty,” after all, is bad for business…

Here’s the twist: It turns out it’s pretty hard to convince Americans you’re being fair when you hand a huge permanent  benefit to corporations and a temporary pittance to the common folk, the “money in your pocket” people. I recall Republican talk at the time suggesting this expiring benefit was really no problem, since they had backed Democrats into a corner where later they could be forced to vote to rescue the common folk before their meager tax benefit expired. That pissed me off at the time and still does. They were saying, “We’ve got the power. You have to dance to our tune. We don’t need to even consider your viewpoint as we blow up the deficit to pay off our donors. We can count on you weak, lily-livered Democrats to vote with us to save your vulnerable constituents from the law we crammed down your throats.”

Now they are having second thoughts, so while we were all distracted by the Kavanaugh spectacle the House Republicans cynically passed H.R. 6760: Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018 on a party line vote (all WA Republican representatives voted for it, all Democrats against). In so doing the Republicans are counting on the ignorance and distraction of the electorate. The bill has zero chance of passing the Senate before the close of this “115th Congress” at year’s end. It is not a “budget reconciliation” bill, so it would require sixty votes to avoid a filibuster. On top of that, if made law, it would further explode the deficit. (Remember when the Republicans preached “fiscal responsibility”??)

I guarantee McMorris Rodgers will be singing to her base about her vote on this bill. You can bet she will blame Democrats for not joining her in voting for a bogus solution to the problem of her own making. She will trot out this doomed bill as a debating point, “I voted to make the tax cuts permanent for the workers of eastern Washington.” I can hear it now. She’s counting on voters to forget it was she who made it a problem in the first place. Don’t let her get away with it. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. The text of H.R. 6760 specifically states in its full text in Sec. 301 (the very last lines of the Bill) “The budgetary effects of this Act shall not be entered on either PAYGO scorecard.” I read that as legalese stating the Republicans want to make sure that no one takes notice of the fact by passing this measure they are further exploding the deficit. How cynical is that?

P.P.S. I find it a bit odd to note that at one is presented with a two summaries of this H.R. 6760, one from the Republican Policy Committee and one from the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan division of the Library of Congress. Are the Republican/Libertarians so partisan they have to publish their own spin on this bill? Is the non-partisan CRS Summary somehow not good enough?

What Next?

Dear Group,

As I write this on Thursday morning many Americans are poised to tune in to the re-started Kavanaugh hearings. Brett Kavanaugh, a nearly sainted figure in the eyes of both the corporate and the religious right, appears to have a sodden, hormone-fueled prep school and college past, a story a growing line of women are anxious to tell. Saint Kavanaugh, for his part, categorically denies that he ever once had an impure thought, modeling his denial on those of his apparent mentor, Donald Trump.

The Donald, proclaiming the wondrous success of his presidency to the General Assembly of the United Nations on Wednesday, was greeted with laughter. He followed up by thumbing his nose at our allies, praising dictators, and setting “patriotism” and nationalism as the primary ideals of the new Amerika, all this from a president who dodged military service himself. 

More on the home front in eastern Washington, Sue Lani Madsen, in a widely unread opinion piece in the Spokesman entitled “Longtime local accountant finds tax cuts will benefit middle class,” tries to convince us the middle class really is better off thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Neither she nor the accountant whose convoluted calculations she quotes seem to understand the concept of inflation, nor do they wonder why it takes a tax accountant to convince us the 99% really are better off. 

Meanwhile, those benefiting from the other eighty percent of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are doing very well. Becky Kramer in Thursday’s Spokesman writes, “Thirteen of Avista’s top executives will receive a combined $18 million in immediate payouts if the Spokane-based utility is sold to Hydro One Ltd., of Toronto.” No need for convoluted calculations there…

McMorris Rodgers, having already brought Devin Nunes and Kellyanne Conway to Spokane to rile up her base and raise funds, is apparently doubling down and planning to host none other than Vice President Pence next week at a private fundraiser. The location and time of day, and even the day of the week, seem to be a moving target. The September 21 Spokesman and many other media outlets reported Pence would appear in Spokane Tuesday, October 2. On September 26th another outlet, the “Spokane Patch” reported Pence’s appearance instead might be Wednesday, October 3. I wonder if Pence is delayed in Washington D.C. so he can add a deciding vote to the Kavanaugh confirmation. Clearly, most Republican Senators have cast off any pretense of an open mind regarding Kavanaugh’s accusers. After stiff arming Merrick Garland and changing the rules to confirm Neil Grouch, they’re certainly not going to let a little thing like some whiney women keep them from establishing corporate dominance on the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday this week at breakfast a friend, a Republican of the thoughtful sort, said, “It feels like the country is unraveling.” 

In the midst of all this news, all this swirl, all this angst, I knocked on doors this week and conversed with a number of registered voters and a few unregistered young people in the precincts around Shadle Library. When I asked the question, “Do you plan to vote in the November election?” I was a little stunned to hear from many, “No, I don’t think so.” Asked why, and listened to, the common thread was “Why bother, it won’t change anything…” I talked health care with twenty year old and helped him register to vote. I talked health care and income inequality and insecurity with a sixty something woman who was essentially in despair, saying she could no longer bear to watch the television. I told them of the desperation I feel that lead me to their door to plead with them to vote. In the end they assured me they would vote…and likely for Lisa Brown. 

Get out this weekend for your favorite candidate and knock on doors. I keep meeting volunteer like myself who have never before in their wildest moments imagined they would be doing this, but we need more people out there. You don’t need to know a bunch of policy positions. You come pre-armed with your sincerity and your personal endorsement. The people we need to convince to cast a ballot are often most impressed just by the fact that someone is at their doorstep, listening, and offering some hope.

Sign up to canvass with Lisa Brown and her campaign this afternoon, Saturday or Sunday at or call the DCCC office at (509) 954-9132 or stop by at 1507 E. Sprague if you’re in Spokane. If not, there are field offices scattered throughout eastern Washington. 

Go to check out your ballot for your local area, familiarize yourself with a local candidate and join their campaign. It is all good. Voting is essential, but just waiting until November 5th to figure out for whom you might vote (this year especially) is an abdication of civic responsibility.

Keep to the high ground,


Labor Day, Just the End of Summer?

Dear Group,

Today we celebrate Labor Day, the end of summer, the beginning of school, the return from “the lake.” Is that all it is?

Labor Day, according to wikipedia, “honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.” Labor Day has been a federal holiday since 1894. 

Labor Day was established in the waning years of the “Gilded Age,” a time of explosive industrial growth, urbanization, immigration, and a massive increase in income inequality. Labor movements united workers to fight for safe and equitable working conditions and a living wage, as a counterbalance to the growing power of men and corporations controlling vast and increasing wealth. Do any of these issues sound familiar?

The drip, drip, drip of anecdotes and ideas out of the right wing “think tanks” over the last forty years have consistently characterized the labor movement as corrupt, consisting of nefarious labor-politicos bargaining for wages and conditions that would reward undeserving workers while skimming off money for themselves. For example, vividly emblazoned on my memory is my dad railing against the railroad unionists demanding “firemen” on diesel locomotives long after their original job, shoveling coal, was a relic of the past.

Over those decades corporate interests have assembled a mind frame of distrust of unions while constructing a wonderfully Orwellian campaign for “Right to Work” laws the sole purpose of which is to undermine the power of unions vis-à-vis corporations. 

Right-to-work laws do not aim to provide general guarantee of employment to people seeking work, but rather are a government ban on contractual agreements between employers and union employees requiring workers to pay for the costs of union representation. [from wikipedia. If you are not already clear about “Right to Work” I encourage you to read the article.]

Finally voters are starting to pay attention. In August a two thirds majority of voters in the Primary Election election in Missouri, of all places, rejected a “right-to-work” law.. Fox news even covered it.

It is about power and who is deemed to be righteous and good. If voters are fed enough anecdotes about lazy, undeserving people wanting a bigger piece of the pie through unions and collective bargaining, then they can be sold all sorts of things. Things like Trump’s recent and little noticed cancellation of “across-the-board pay raises for civilian workers across the federal government, citing the “nation’s fiscal situation.” Do he and his Republican/Libertarian sycophants imagine we’ve forgotten the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” a law that gave more than a trillion dollars to corporations and the 1%, the new tax law McMorris Rodgers has tried so very hard to spin as “money in your pocket?” (Note she’s mostly not using this line anymore. Has her vaunted skill at messaging faltered?)

The Trump Republican across-the-board wage raise cancellation is just one more swipe at workers, while Trump tiptoes out the back door his tax cut money in hand. How fitting, somehow, that he should make his announcement right before Labor Day weekend…

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. The Gilded Age article is wikipedia I found fascinating. The term Gilded Age comes from a book by Mark Twain entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today published in 1873 highlighting greed and political corruption in post Civil War America. My mind frame around the “Gilded Age” was molded around high school required reading of Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle (1906), about the “harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants working in the industrialized cities, specifically the meatpacking industry in the late 19th century. Other influences on my view of this era include my father’s lifetime of work as a depot agent with the Milwaukee Road and Protestant/Catholic tensions I grew up with in mid-20th century Wisconsin. All those memories erupted in my reading of the Gilded Age wikipedia article and associated links. 

What is Avista saying about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

Dear Group,

I was going to take the day off today, but then I read my email from Avista…and I can’t resist a comment. (The full text of the email is copied below, just to show I’m not making this up.)

McMorris Rodgers, as you know, has been beating her messaging drum about the Republican Tax Law in an effort to sell it to the voters. She is so committed to her canned message she even dragged out “money in your pocket” for her opening remarks to high school students at a town hall on School Safety on Maundy Thursday at Ferris. Is she tone deaf…or was she nervous the students would want to talk about guns? Did “money in your pocket” come out as a reversion to comfort zone?  In any case, polls have suggested her hand-crafted message is not sitting particularly well with the general populace. That fact only seems to make her more anxious to repeat her same talking points.

When she pulls the string that activates her talking points on the Republican Tax Law the sound bite that falls out always includes “money in your pocket.” Then comes the well-worn calculation about the extra $2000 or so some hypothetical “average” taxpayer with a family income of $70,000 is supposed to get next year. A favorite local example of a bonus (and the one she memorably touted to the students at Ferris) is the “up to” $1000 Home Depot said last January it would give its employees.  Earlier in the day of the Ferris event McMorris Rodgers had spent a few minutes as a stand-in employee. (You can see a clip of how that went here on the Katie Tur Show on MSNBC.) Of course, a one-time bonus offered by a huge company to their employees (more than a year before the effect of the Tax Law is actually felt) is nothing more than a public relations thank you to the Republican Party, a thank you for the eighty percent of the tax law proceeds (and increase in the national debt) that accrues to these companies and their owners. That eighty percent McMorris Rodgers seems incapable of discussing.

The Home Depot bonus McMorris Rodgers touted was particularly sour since one of the founders of Home Depot, Ken Langone (current net worth 3.3 billion according to Forbes, up from 2.7 billion in 2014), is one of the frequent fliers in the Koch donor group chronicled in Jane Mayer’s book “Dark Money.” (See References below). The Koch group was among the most insistent in pushing the Tax Bill. Self interest knows no bounds.

So why did the Avista email catch my eye? Here’s the excerpt (bold is mine):

You may have heard that the Commission recently made a decision on our filings that will change your electric and natural gas rates beginning May 1, 2018. We’re pleased that these new rates include passing benefits of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to our customers through rates. Based on average monthly usage, residential customers in Washington can expect the following bill changes:


• Electric: Bill increase of $1.87 or 2.2 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $88.45.

• Natural gas: Bill decrease of $0.77 or 1.5, percent for a revised monthly bill of $52.03.

I burst out laughing when I read that. The “benefits” of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” they’re passing along results in a net $1.10 increase in the average monthly bill! Are they math challenged at Avista or are they saying the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a complete hoax? I know. I know. Mr. Christie, the author of the Avista email, only said the new rates “include” the “benefits” of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Must be monstrous “benefits” to result in a net increase in your utility bill…

Keep to the high ground,


Full text of the email I received from Avista May 2, 2018 at 5AM:

Dear Avista Customer,

 In May 2017, we told you about filings we made with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to recover costs related to infrastructure, system maintenance, technology and power supply to serve our customers that would change the price you pay for energy.

 These requests were driven by the ongoing maintenance and improvements we make every year to the massive infrastructure of poles, dams, turbines, substations, pipes, and other equipment that provides you with safe and reliable power and natural gas.

 You may have heard that the Commission recently made a decision on our filings that will change your electric and natural gas rates beginning May 1, 2018. We’re pleased that these new rates include passing benefits of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to our customers through rates. Based on average monthly usage, residential customers in Washington can expect the following bill changes:

 • Electric: Bill increase of $1.87 or 2.2 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $88.45.

• Natural gas: Bill decrease of $0.77 or 1.5, percent for a revised monthly bill of $52.03.

 It’s important to remember that the Commission sets the rate you pay for the energy you use. You can learn more about this and your energy prices here.

 Take control of your energy use

Your monthly energy bill is influenced not only by the price of energy but also by the amount of energy you use. Avista offers a variety of ways for you to manage or reduce your usage and save on your bill. Learn more here.

 We know you want prices that are fair and reasonable, and so do we.

 Thank you,

 Kevin Christie,

Vice President, External Affairs and Chief Customer Officer

Avista Utilities

In Her Own Words

Click here to listen. I have posted this before. It is a recording of McMorris Rodgers speaking with a Breitbart reporter at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), the Republican/Libertarian lovefest last February. 

Dear Group,

I wish I could play the recording posted above as Exhibit One for every undecided or disconnected voter in Washington State’s Congressional District 5. The soundtrack is McMorris Rodgers among friends. At twenty seconds she breathlessly declares Trump’s speech at CPAC, “Excellent!” Then she launches into:

What is most exciting to me right now is the momentum that is building again, that we’re seeing some results on Capitol Hill whether with the Tax Bill, the repeal of the Individual Mandate, opening up ANWR. It’s building the momentum that we need in order to tackle some of these other big issues that we want to heading into 2018 and really rethink the federal government from top to bottom, restore…ah…some accountability and make sure that these agencies and the programs are run efficiently and are accountable to hardworking taxpayers. 0:21-0:54 seconds [Bold is mine.}

Note the congressional actions that exemplify the momentum that excites McMorris Rodgers. “The Tax Bill, the repeal of the Individual Mandate, opening up ANWR.” This is the woman who claims to represent the interests of the taxpayers of CD5 in the U.S. House of Representatives? 

Proud of the Tax Bill? The Republican/Libertarian Tax Bill, in spite of McMorris Rodgers’ tireless efforts to characterize it as “money in your pocket,” is losing popularity as voters realize that eighty percent of its tax reduction goes to the already wealthy and to corporations, as voters realize the personal tax cuts are uncertain, and, worse, they expire while the giveaway to the wealthy is permanent, as voters begin to understand the 1.5 trillion dollar addition to the national debt over ten years, as voters understand that whatever dollars they may gain will soon melt away in Republican efforts to dismantle the social safety net.

Proud of the Repeal of the Individual Mandate? The average voter with a life needs a translation. McMorris Rodgers is excited about this repeal because it is a substantial blow to the function of the Affordable Care Act. McMorris Rodgers was a vocal supporter her party’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), the one that dramatically failed in the Senate on John McCain’s (R-AZ) vote. The AHCA was an attempt to return health insurance to the days of rampant medical bankruptcy, to the days of working people neglecting their diabetes in favor of putting food on the table. Their AHCA was so deeply unpopular it had approval ratings among the general population in the twenty percent range. What McMorris Rodgers is proud of with the repeal of the individual mandate is that what she and her Republican colleagues couldn’t repeal outright they have at least managed to wound. They are proud to damage a social program rather than work to improve it.

And finally, she’s proud of “opening up ANWR.” I’ve been surprised how many people I’ve talked with who draw a blank when I say “ANWR” (usually pronounced An-whar). It seems that many folks who are very proud and protective of our national park system are only vaguely aware of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to countless species. Among them is the Porcupine Caribou, whose calving grounds are ground zero for oil exploration. A place of breathtaking beauty, situated as it is in northeast Alaska, it is infrequently visited and, I suppose, out of the mind of most Americans. Since the 1970s oil companies have pushed to open ANWR to oil exploration and drilling. There was a brief lull after the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, but Republicans and oil companies are patient and persistent. It’s about money. It’s about more oil in a time when, thanks to fracking, we have ample oil, in a time when we need to transition away carbon fuels to avoid eventual disaster. Now, of all times, now McMorris Rodgers is proud to finally ram through violation of one of the last pristine places. For me, McMorris Rodgers’ glee at the “opening up” of ANWR is emblematic of the twisted priorities of the Republican Party.

If the Tax Bill, the repeal of the Individual Mandate, and opening up ANWR are examples of Republican momentum McMorris Rodgers finds exciting, just imagine how much more she and her Party want to dismantle and liquidate and then award the proceeds to the already wealthy. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Take note who this unguarded interview is with. McMorris Rodgers apparently feels she is playing to a friendly audience. She is talking with a Breitbart reporter. Breitbart was, until recently the low rent, alt-right mouthpiece of that great moral beacon, Steve Bannon.  Breitbart was also the stomping ground of Milo Yiannopoulos. He was ousted from a speaking engagement at this same Conservative Political Action Committee gathering after youtube videos surfaced of Milo condoning pedophilia. That McMorris Rodgers, a woman who poses as a devout Christian, even allows an interview with Breitbart, is a statement of personal debasement. Instead, she is obviously comfortable here. She knows this is a select audience living in its own media bubble. She feels confident that most independents won’t be found wandering in this fetid swamp of the alt-right.