In this week’s headlines…
On Sept. 27, pointing to goals of economic growth, the Trump administration unveiled its proposed tax overhaul, which would slash corporate tax rates, implement a lower rate for “passthrough” businesses that are now taxed at the rate of their owners and benefit the wealthy by eliminating the estate tax and alternative minimum tax (The New York Times, “Trump Proposes the Most Sweeping Tax Overhaul in Decades,” 09.27.17).
The Senate Budget Committee put forth a budget resolution on Sept. 29 that opens the door for Republicans to approve Trump’s tax bill using special budget rules that prevent a Democratic filibuster (The New York Times, “Senate Unveils Budget Blueprint Allowing $1.5 Trillion in Tax Cuts,” 09.29.17).
“We’re dying here,” said Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulín Cruz, who appeared on CNN on Sept. 29 and criticized Trump’s slow response to the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria. Trump fired back on Twitter, condemning Cruz for “poor leadership” (The New York Times, “Trump Lashes Out at Puerto Rico Mayor Who Criticized Storm Response,” 09.30.17).
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson admitted on Sept. 30 that the U.S. is in direct conversation with the North Korean government, citing a long-term goal of complete denuclearization (The New York Times, “U.S. in Direct Communication With North Korea, Says Tillerson,” 09.30.17).
Work has begun on eight prototypes for Trump’s proposed border wall in San Diego, CA (The New York Times, “For a Preview of the Border Wall, Look to California,” 09.27.17).
The State Department withdrew staffers from the American Embassy in Havana on Sept. 29 after suspected attacks, possibly with some kind of sonic weapon, caused mysterious symptoms in 21 diplomats (The New York Times, “Illnesses at U.S. Embassy in Havana Prompt Evacuation of More Diplomats,” 09.29.17).
Health Secretary Tom Price resigned on Sept. 29 amid outrage over bills of at least $400,000 for chartered flights, for which he had offered to partially reimburse the government (The New York Times, “Health Secretary Tom Price Resigns After Drawing Ire for Chartered Flights,” 09.29.17).
In our backyard…
The Poughkeepsie City School District was named one of 26 recipients of the Empire State After-School Program grant, consisting of $1.4 million for the district spread out over five years. The grant comes after the district’s loss of a $1.2 million annual 21st-Century Community Learning Centers grant that funded out-of-school programming for students. Applications for the Empire grant were open to any district with a child poverty rate over 30 percent; Poughkeepsie’s rate was 75 percent. The district’s proposed after-school programming will serve 1,000 students and 145 parents (Poughkeepsie Journal, “73 Poughkeepsie schools to get $1.4 million grant,” 09.29.17).
Dutchess County legislator Joe Incoronato is temporarily safe from censure prompted by his controversial remarks this summer on sexual assault. After receiving a letter of apology from Incoronato, Legislature Chairman Dale Borchert canceled the October vote but acknowledged that the legislature could choose to censure in the future (Poughkeepsie Journal, “Dutchess County: Legislature won’t vote on Incoronato censure in October,” 09.29.17).
A report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Sept. 26 found that Poughkeepsie ranks ninth out of 27 New York communities identified as being fiscally stressed, based on financial indicators including cash on hand, operating deficits (Poughkeepsie’s deficit is around $12.5 million) and local economies (Poughkeepsie Journal, “Poughkeepsie ranks high for fiscal stress,” 09.27.17).
Spotlight on 2020 hopefuls…
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
The first member of her family to graduate college, Warren began her political career in 1995 as chief advisor of the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, where she used her research and career experience in bankruptcy law to testify against congressional efforts to limit consumers’ ability to file for bankruptcy.
In 2008, Warren became chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, which monitored bank bailouts. Under President Barack Obama, she helped creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform, aiming to improve financial transparency and protect consumers from the kind of risky loans that precipitated the 2008 mortgage crisis.
Since becoming the first female senator from Massachusetts, Warren has continued her work with Dodd-Frank as a member of the Senate Banking Committee, advocated for financial transparency in government legal cases, steered her party as Strategic Advisor of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, pushed to fill the empty Supreme Court seat left by the late Antonin Scalia and supported Hillary Clinton on the 2016 campaign trail.
An outspoken critic of Trump, Warren marched in the Boston Women’s March for America after his inauguration, decried his travel ban and spoke out against his Cabinet nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (Biography, “Elizabeth Warren”).
Asked recently about the possibility of a 2020 Presidential bid, Warren opined, “We need to focus on the fights in front of us,” adding, “I am not running for president, I’m doing my work” (CBS Boston, “Sen. Warren: ‘I Am Not Running For President,’” 08.04.17).