WASHINGTON - In one of the most heated topics of his administration, President Donald Trump took to the national airwaves to gain the public’s support - and Democrats did likewise.
On Jan. 8, Trump spoke to the nation in a 10 minute address about the importance of border security, with his proposed border wall as the centerpiece. While several presidents have spoken to the nation before to garner support for something in the past, this time, members of the opposing party were given airtime to offer a rebuttal. This usually occurs only after a State of the Union address, and not in response to other presidential agendas.
Of course, the main reason why the border wall is such a crucial issue now is because the divide over it has led to a lengthy and burdensome government shutdown in several sectors. Workers have been furloughed, federally supported recreational spots have been shuttered, and if the shutdown continues, tax refunds, food stamps, and even social security payments could be in jeopardy.
For your review, first is Trump’s address to the nation:
“My fellow Americans: Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.
“Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.
“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation. But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.
“Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.
“In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.
“This is a humanitarian crisis - a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.
“Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States - a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.
“This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end.
“My administration has presented Congress with a detailed proposal to secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers. It’s a tremendous problem. Our proposal was developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents at the Department of Homeland Security. These are the resources they have requested to properly perform their mission and keep America safe. In fact, safer than ever before.
“The proposal from Homeland Security includes cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband, and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges, and bed space to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy. Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support.
“Furthermore, we have asked Congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home.
“Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense.
“The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year - vastly more than the $5.7 billion we have requested from Congress. The wall will also be paid for, indirectly, by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.
“Senator Chuck Schumer - who you will be hearing from later tonight - has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected President.
“Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis. And they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation.
“The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.
“My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation. But the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and re-opens the government.
“This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting. I have invited Congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully, we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.
“Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.
“America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.
“Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders. In California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.
“Over the last several years, I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the sadness gripping their souls.
“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?
“To those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask: Imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken?
“To every member of Congress: Pass a bill that ends this crisis. To every citizen: Call Congress and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border.
“This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.
“When I took the Oath of Office, I swore to protect our country. And that is what I will always do, so help me God. Thank you and goodnight.”
Now for your review, here is the response from House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered moments later.
Pelosi: “I appreciate the opportunity to speak directly to the American people tonight about how we can end this shutdown and meet the needs of the American people. Sadly, much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice. The president has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts.
“The fact is, on the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to reopen government and fund smart, effective border security solutions. But the president is rejecting these bipartisan bills, which would reopen government over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall - a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for.
“The fact is, President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety and well-being of the American people and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation - many of them veterans. He promised to keep government shutdown for ‘months or years’ - no matter whom it hurts. That’s just plain wrong.
“The fact is, we all agree that we need to secure our borders, while honoring our values. We can build the infrastructure and roads at our ports of entry; we can install new technology to scan cars and trucks for drugs coming into our nation; we can hire the personnel we need to facilitate trade and immigration at the border; and we can fund more innovation to detect unauthorized crossings.
“The fact is the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge - a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened.
“And the fact is, President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government. Thank you.”
Schumer: “My fellow Americans, we address you tonight for one reason only: the president of the United States - having failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective, unnecessary border wall, and unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill - has shut down the government. American democracy doesn’t work that way. We don’t govern by temper tantrum. No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage.
“Tonight - and throughout this debate and throughout his presidency - President Trump has appealed to fear, not facts; division, not unity. Make no mistake: Democrats and the president both want stronger border security. However, we sharply disagree with the president about the most effective way to do it.
“So, how do we untangle this mess? There is an obvious solution: separate the shutdown from the arguments over border security.
“There is bipartisan legislation - supported by Democrats and Republicans - to reopen government while allowing debate over border security to continue.
“There is no excuse for hurting millions of Americans over a policy difference. Federal workers are about to miss a paycheck. Some families can’t get a mortgage to buy a new home. Farmers and small businesses won’t get loans they desperately need. Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes. This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.
“My fellow Americans, there is no challenge so great that our nation cannot rise to meet it. We can reopen the government and continue to work through disagreements over policy. We can secure our border without an ineffective, expensive wall. And we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees, without compromising safety and security. The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.
“So, our suggestion is a simple one. Mr. President, reopen the government and we can work to resolve our differences over border security. But end this shutdown now. Thank you.”
HOUSTON, TX - On Nov. 30, 2018, the United States of America said farewell to its 41st President.
George Herbert Walker Bush was born to parents Prescott Bush and Dorothy Weir Walker Bush on June 12, 1924. While Bush became widely recognized as a Texan, he grew up in the New England area of Milton, Massachusetts. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, GHWB put his university aspirations to the side and enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday. Once he wrapped up his service in 1945, Bush went to Yale University and graduated in 1948.
The same year that he exited the military, he married Barbara Pierce, and eventually moved to western Texas. Bush would get into the oil business, and became a millionaire at the age of 40. Soon after reaching this milestone, Bush entered the realm of politics, and earned election to the House of Representatives in the 7th district of Texas in 1966.
After losing a reelection bid in 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed Bush as the nation’s Ambassador to the United Nations, and in 1973, the oil tycoon became Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
When Nixon left office in the wake of the infamous Watergate scandal, President Gerald Ford would appoint Bush as CIA Director. In 1980, Bush would lose in the Republican Presidential Primary to Ronald Reagan, who was so impressed by his opponent that he tagged him as his running mate. The Reagan-Bush ticket would win the election over Democratic incumbents Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale.
After Reagan served two terms, he pushed for Bush to succeed him. In 1988, Bush teamed with Dan Quayle to defeat Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentson, becoming the 41st U.S. President in the process. In 1992, Bush and Quayle would lose to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, serving just one term in their positions.
Bush, who had been in failing health for some time, had to suffer through the loss of his wife and former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush on April 17 this year. The couple, who had the longest marriage in presidential history, had six children. One child, Pauline died at the age of three due to leukemia. Despite that, they are survived by the other children and several grandchildren.
The eldest child, George Walker Bush, became the 43rd President of the United States, after Clinton had reached his term limitation. GHWB became known as “Bush 41” and his son “Bush 43.”
George H.W. Bush was 94 years old, and although many disagreed with his political actions and stances, it is customary to honor a fallen president.
Here now are tributes from the remaining living Presidents:
George Walker Bush, Bush’s eldest son and 43rd U.S. President: “Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died. George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”
Barack Obama, the President who followed Bush 43 as POTUS 44, on Twitter. “America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude. Our thoughts are with the entire Bush family tonight - and all who were inspired by George and Barbara’s example.”
Bill Clinton, POTUS 42 who followed Bush 41: “Hillary and I mourn the passing of President George H.W. Bush, and give thanks for his great long life of service, love, and friendship.
“I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children, and their growing brood.
“Few Americans have been - or will ever be - to match President Bush’s record of service to the United States and the joy he took every day from it; from his military service in World War II, to his work in Congress, the United Nations, China, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Vice Presidency and the Presidency, where he worked to move the post Cold War world toward greater unity, peace, and freedom.
“He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina. His remarkable leadership and great heart were always on full display.
“I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts.
“Our hearts and prayers are with George, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, their families, and the entire Bush clan.”
Jimmy Carter, POTUS 39, who was defeated by Reagan and Bush in 1980: “Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened by the death of former President George H.W. Bush. is administration was marked by grace, civility, and social conscience. Through his Points of Light initiative and other projects, he espoused a uniquely American volunteer spirit, fostering bipartisan support for citizen service and inspiring millions to embrace community volunteerism as a cherished responsibility. We again extend our heartfelt condolences to the Bush family."
Donald Trump, current and 45th POTUS: “Melania and I join with a grieving Nation to mourn the loss of former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away last night.
“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service - to be, in his words, ‘a thousand points of light’ illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world.
“President Bush always found a way to set the bar higher. As a young man, he captained the Yale baseball team and served as the youngest aviator in the United States Navy during the Second World War. Later in life, he rose to the pinnacle of American politics as a Congressman from Texas, envoy to China, Director of Central Intelligence, Vice President of eight years to President Ronald Reagan, and finally President of the United States.
“With sound judgement, common sense, and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our Nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War. As President, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed. And through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction.
“Along with his full life of service to country, we will remember President Bush for his devotion to family - especially the love of his life, Barbara. His example lives on, and will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause. Our hearts ache with his loss, and we, with the American people, send our prayers to the entire Bush family, as we honor the life and legacy of 41.”
Trump then issued this proclamation regarding Bush 41: “NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, in honor and tribute to the memory of President George H.W. Bush, and as an expression of public sorrow, do hereby direct that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions for a period of 30 days from the day of his death.
“I also direct that, for the same length of time, the representatives of the United States in foreign countries shall make similar arrangements for the display of the flag at half-staff over their embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
“I hereby order that suitable honors be rendered by units of the Armed Forces under orders of the Secretary of Defense.
“I do further appoint December 5, 2018, as a National Day of Mourning throughout the United States. I call on the American people to assemble on that day in their respective places of worship, there to pay homage to the memory of President George H.W. Bush. I invite the people of the world who share our grief to join us in this solemn observance.
“IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.”
On April 13, the citizens of America were made aware of operations that were taking place on April 14 halfway around the world.
Just after 9:00 pm Eastern Time, President Donald Trump took to the national airwaves to inform the American people that military airstrikes were commenced with support from France and the United Kingdom to bomb specific targets in Syria. This was done due to compelling evidence that the Middle Eastern country once again used chemical weapons on its civilian population, in clear violation of international law.
“My fellow Americans, a short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now underway. We thank them both,” said Trump in his address to the nation.
“Tonight, I want to speak with you about why we have taken this action. One year ago, Assad launched a savage chemical weapons attack against his own innocent people. The United States responded with 58 missile strikes that destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian Air Force.
“Last Saturday, the Assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians - this time, in the town of Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus. This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime.
“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead.
“Following the horrors of World War I a century ago, civilized nations joined together to ban chemical warfare. Chemical weapons are uniquely dangerous not only because they inflict gruesome suffering, but because even small amounts can unleash widespread devastation.
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, British, and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power - military, economic, and diplomatic. We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.
“I also have a message tonight for the two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping, and financing the criminal Assad regime.
“To Iran, and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?
“The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators.
“In 2013, President Putin and his government promised the world that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. Assad’s recent attack - and today’s response - are the direct result of Russia’s failure to keep that promise.
“Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path, or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace. Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran - but maybe not.
“I will say this: The United States has a lot to offer, with the greatest and most powerful economy in the history of the world.
“In Syria, the United States - with but a small force being used to eliminate what is left of ISIS - is doing what is necessary to protect the American people. Over the last year, nearly 100 percent of the territory once controlled by the so-called ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq has been liberated and eliminated.
The United States has also rebuilt our friendships across the Middle East. We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing large amounts of money for the resources, equipment, and all of the anti-ISIS effort. Increased engagement from our friends, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, and others can ensure that Iran does not profit from the eradication of ISIS.
“America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria under no circumstances. As other nations step up their contributions, we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home. And great warriors they are.
“Looking around our very troubled world, Americans have no illusions. We cannot purge the world of evil, or act everywhere there is tyranny.
“No amount of American blood or treasure can produce lasting peace and security in the Middle East. It’s a troubled place. We will try to make it better, but it is a troubled place. The United States will be a partner and a friend, but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.
“In the last century, we looked straight into the darkest places of the human soul. We saw the anguish that can be unleashed and the evil that can take hold. By the end of the World War I, more than one million people had been killed or injured by chemical weapons. We never want to see that ghastly specter return.
“So today, the nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality.
“Tonight, I ask all Americans to say a prayer for our noble warriors and our allies as they carry out their missions.
“We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria. We pray that God will guide the whole region toward a future of dignity and of peace.
And we pray that God will continue to watch over and bless the United States of America. Thank you, and goodnight.”
WASHINGTON - On Jan. 30, 2018, President Donald J. Trump (R-NY) made his first State of the Union Address, but “State of the Us Vs. Them Address” would have been more appropriate.
Trump spoke before a packed house of elected officials and guests to give the required status update on the United States of America. To much surprise, the President did not have any embarrassing episode that was memed or featured on a plethora of news outlets.
That said, there was much division over his policies and objectives. Republicans in the room mostly applauded, while a handful of crickets would have produced more noise than Democrats. One line about merit-based immigration elicited a strong groan of disdain from the non-GOP members in the room. Trump’s comment about African American unemployment put looks of exasperation on the faces of Congressman Donald Payne, Senator Cory Booker, and many others. Also, in avoiding the current controversy, Trump only alluded to Russia once.
For your review and assessment, here now is some of Trump’s address to the nation:
“Less than 1 year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American People - and to address their concerns, their hopes, and their dreams. That night, our new Administration had already taken swift action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.
Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission - to make America great again for all Americans.
Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined. We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship. We endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s spine.
…To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California, and everywhere else - we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together.
Some trials over the past year touched this chamber very personally. With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House - a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise.
We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police Officers, the Alexandria Police, and the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who saved his life, and the lives of many others in this room.
In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people. But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy. Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.
Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If there is an opportunity, we seize it.
So let us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong. And together, we are building a safe, strong, and proud America.
Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.
Read More in the Feb. 1 edition of Local Talk Newspaper
WASHINGTON - The leader of the free world is facing yet another shocking accusation, with international implications.
At a Jan. 11 meeting to discuss the status of Dreamers in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, U.S. President Donald J. Trump was said to have asked - regarding countries like Haiti, El Salvador and African countries - "Why are we having all these people from s---hole countries come here?" He was also accused of saying he would rather have people from Norway come to the U.S. instead.
These remarks sparked a plethora of outrage from all over the nation and world. Congresswoman Mia Love (R-UT) who is of Haitian descent, said, “The president’(s) comments are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation.”
Trump replied to the accusation on Twitter, posting two tweets, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!”
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"
However, Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), who was on hand at the meeting, said that Trump’s denial of using the word “s---hole” was false.
These alleged comments came right at the time of a somber anniversary. It was on January 12, 2010 that Haiti was devastated by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, which produced a death toll in the hundreds of thousands.
WASHINGTON - After an “illegal procedure” false start in the House, the contentious tax plan of the GOP is now law.
On Dec. 22, President Donald J. Trump (R-NY) signed off on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, two days after meeting with fellow Republicans to laud the bill’s passage in the Legislative Branch.
“I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas. With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting,” said Trump in a statement. “I would like to thank the members of Congress who supported this historic bill, which represents an extraordinary victory for American families, workers, and businesses.
“Unemployment continues to fall, the stock market is at a record high, and wages will soon be on the rise. By cutting taxes and reforming the broken system, we are now pouring rocket fuel into the engine of our economy. America is back to winning again, and we’re growing like never before. There is a great spirit of optimism sweeping across our land. Americans can once again rest assured that our brightest days are still to come.”
While House Speaker Paul Ryan was pleased with the bill’s passage, there was a bit of a hiccup. After he triumphantly banged the gavel upon the bill’s initial approval on Dec. 19, the vote had to be done over, after Democrats pointed out that three small provisions did not adhere to Senate rules in the reconciled legislation.
Once the error was corrected after the Senate gave its 51-48 narrow approval, the House voted again and passed it 224-201. While no Senate Republicans voted against passage (Sen. John McCain was not on hand to vote due to cancer treatment) there were some in the House of Representatives - mostly from New Jersey and New York - who voted no. In both the House and Senate, not a single Democrat voted yes.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) issued the following statement on the passage of the GOP’s tax plan:
“When the story of this tax plan is written, congressional Republicans will be remembered for never wavering in their determination to give a massive tax cut to corporations, to the wealthiest among us, and to the well-connected at the expense of ordinary Americans, who were nothing but an afterthought. New Jersey families and communities will be among the hardest hit, with potentially long-lasting effects on services, property value, education, and public safety.
“This is not what we were sent to the U.S. Senate to do. We’re supposed to be making life better for everyday Americans - to help make their paychecks bigger and their out-of-pocket costs smaller. Together, we could have achieved these noble aims through a bipartisan bill that delivered game-changing tax cuts for working Americans while making our businesses more competitive abroad. But we didn’t - Republicans refused to work together in any meaningful way.
“And so now we’re left with a tax plan that makes huge corporate tax cuts permanent, lavishes the most benefit on those who already have so much, makes meager middle class tax cuts temporary while raising taxes for many families, and blows a gaping $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit - a hole that our kids and grandkids will be responsible for filling.
“Republican assertions that giant corporations newly flush with cash will, out of the goodness of their hearts, pass on their windfall to workers ignore both evidence and logic. It’s foolhardy at best and deceitful at worst.
“This bill will exacerbate inequality, not ameliorate it. It’s irresponsible, reckless, unjust, and just plain cruel - and for these reasons and more, today is one of my most disappointing days as a U.S. Senator. I look forward to the day - and it will come - that we reverse this devastating piece of legislation and bring real tax reform that truly helps working families and small businesses across the country.”
Here is a quick recap from our Dec. 7 edition of how the law passed, and what it means for you.
On Dec. 2, at around 1:50 am, the H.R. 1 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in the Senate by a 51-49 vote, just one above the Vice President Mike Pence tiebreaker line. It was a reconciliation of a bill introduced Nov. 2 by Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and passed in the House Nov. 16.
The Nov. 16 House vote was 227-205, with 13 Republicans voting against its passage. The Dec. 2 Senate vote had Bob Corker (R-TN) as the only GOP member voting against it, citing deficit concerns. There was not a single Democrat who voted in favor of the bill in either the House or Senate.
The Senate portion, which reportedly clocked in between 425 and 500 pages, had handwritten notes on the sides, and had to be voted on hours after it was introduced. Democrats asked for more time to review the paperwork, but that request was denied.
The measure passed by reconciliation, a process that allowed for the House to craft a bill, with the Senate being able to craft companion legislation and combine the two for one final bill. This completed legislation then went to President Trump for his signature.
By going through the process of reconciliation, it was not eligible for a filibuster attempt by Democrats.
The main sticking points of the legislation are as follows:
- The top tax percentile rate is being cut from 39.6% to 38.5%
- Corporate tax rates drop from 35% to 20% (Unlike the rest of the rate changes set to expire on Dec. 31, 2025, this is a permanent fixture)
- The standard deduction on taxes goes from $6,350 to $12,700 for a single person. For married couples, it goes from $12,000 to $24,000
- Although the alternative minimum tax remains in play, the exemption level is higher
- The individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act is repealed, meaning that people will not be penalized if they are not insured
The heaviest drawbacks to the plan are an increase of over $1 trillion to the federal deficit, likely cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and the elimination of state and local tax deductions. Also, there are no more personal deductions.
WASHINGTON - The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has followed through with a threat he made a few weeks ago.
On Dec. 14, the FCC voted 3-2 to end net neutrality, which was based on regulations implemented under the Obama administration.
“Following detailed legal and economic analysis, as well as extensive examination of comments from consumers and stakeholders, the Commission reversed the FCC’s 2015 heavy-handed utility-style regulation of broadband Internet access service, which imposed substantial costs on the entire Internet ecosystem,” wrote the FCC in a statement.
“In place of that heavy-handed framework, the FCC is returning to the traditional light-touch framework that was in place until 2015. Moreover, the FCC today also adopted robust transparency requirements that will empower consumers as well as facilitate effective government oversight of broadband providers’ conduct. In particular, the FCC’s action today has restored the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission to act when broadband providers engage in anticompetitive, unfair, or deceptive acts or practices.
“The framework adopted by the Commission today will protect consumers at far less cost to investment than the prior rigid and wide-ranging utility rules. And restoring a favorable climate for network investment is key to closing the digital divide, spurring competition and innovation that benefits consumers.”
“What is responsible for the phenomenal development of the Internet? It certainly wasn’t heavy-handed government regulation,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement supporting the repeal. “Quite to the contrary: At the dawn of the commercial Internet, President Clinton and a Republican Congress agreed that it would be the policy of the United States “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet…unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”
While Pai has voiced his reasons for ending net neutrality, there are serious concerns. For instance, without net neutrality, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) could block websites or content they have an issue with, or deny access to applications that compete with their own offerings. (Ex. If your ISP is Comcast, they could block you from viewing Verizon’s Web site.)
Also, ISPs could throttle services, meaning that your Internet speed may go up and down depending on slanted demand, such as large companies getting better speed for their services compared to small businesses and everyday consumers. Higher speeds may be available to the public - for a price.
Among the plethora of elected officials who voiced disdain over the ruling was U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who issued the following statement on the vote to end net neutrality protections:
“Today’s (Dec. 14) vote to completely gut net neutrality protections is a devastating blow not just to internet access, but to the fundamental ideals of a free and open internet for all. Creating fast lanes and slow lanes on the internet will stifle innovation and undermine the democratizing power of the internet.
“Net neutrality isn’t just a tech issue - it’s a small business issue, it’s an education issue, it’s a health issue - and it’s not a luxury. All Americans should have equal access - free from blocking or discrimination - to online content, platforms, and websites.
“The fight isn’t over. We expect a legal challenge to today’s decision, and I’ll continue to push for a permanent solution that will protect consumers.”