Midday open thread: Senate panel to hold hearing on missing Native women; two-beer ax-throwing limit
Today’s comic by Jen Sorensen is Tips for holiday cheer:
• Justice Dept. lawyer tell en banc Ninth Circuit panel there’s no problem with toddlers representing themselves in immigration court: “So your view is there can be a fundamentally fair proceeding with a 2-year-old in front of an immigration judge with no representation at all,” U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz asked. ”Would an appointed lawyer ever be required?” DOJ lawyer Scott Stewart replied: “I can’t think of a situation.” According to statistics compiled by Syracuse University, as of 2014, 73 percent of unaccompanied minors who appeared in court with lawyers were allowed to stay in the United States compared with only 15 percent of those without lawyers. One of the 11 judges on the panel implied that maybe this was just coincidence not causation, saying that perhaps the immigration lawyers succeeded so often because they only took the easy cases.
In an age when computers were in their infancy and few women were involved in their development, Ms. Berezin (pronounced BEAR-a-zen) not only designed the first true word processor; in 1969, she was also a founder and the president of the Redactron Corporation, a tech start-up on Long Island that was the first company exclusively engaged in manufacturing and selling the In considering two applications for beer-only liquor licenses, the council Monday recommended the stricter rules — including no weapon throwing after midnight, no alcohol in the throwing lanes, no visibly intoxicated customer allowed to posses an ax and the two-beer limit.revolutionary machines.
To secretaries, who constituted 6 percent of the American work force then, Redactron word processors arrived in an office like a trunk of magic tricks, liberating users from the tyranny of having to retype pages marred by bad keystrokes and the monotony of copying pages for wider distribution. The machines were bulky, slow and noisy, but they could edit, delete, and cut and paste text.
In considering two applications for beer-only liquor licenses, the council Monday recommended the stricter rules — including no weapon throwing after midnight, no alcohol in the throwing lanes, no visibly intoxicated customer allowed to posses an ax and the two-beer limit.
• Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act ends in most states on December 15: After today, there’s only four days left to enroll if you need insurance! Free help is available. Answers to your questions about signing up and trained professionals who can talk your through your options are just a phone call or click away. Call 1-800-318-2596 or visit localhelp.healthcare.gov to make a one-on-one appointment now.
Four officers kill a mentally ill Native man (Zachary Bear Heels) in Omaha, NE by tasing & punching him to death & refusing medical care. Everyone agrees the officer used excessive force w/the taser. He gets acquitted. The police union is trying to help them get their jobs back. pic.twitter.com/3MaTTLOHxv— NDNLiberace (@CanteZuyaWin) December 11, 2018
• The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is holding a Wednesday hearing on the "silent crisis" of missing and murdered people in Indian Country: Among the witnesses will be federal law enforcement officials and Native woman. The hearing comes after the Senate passed S.1942, known as Savanna's Act. The bill is named for Savanna Marie Greywind, a 22-year-old woman from the Spirit Lake Nation who was murdered after she went missing in North Dakota last year. If the House approves the bill and it’s signed at the White House, the Department of Justice would be required to provide annual reports on how many Native women go missing and/or murdered each year. It also mandates improved access to national databases to make sure the cases of missing women don’t also go missing. The original sponsor of the act, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, said, "As we remember the life of Savanna and the unimaginable pain of those eight days of friends and family searching for her, this legislation will help law enforcement agencies better collect and maintain data on those missing and help our criminal justice system take stronger action against those who traffic in exploitation, abuse, and murder."
• “Net-zero energy” homes make sense even in chilly Midwest: A report conducted by the Rocky Mountain Institute shows that, as the cost of solar installations and heat pumps fall, net-zero energy houses can pay for themselves in much of the Midwest in less than a decade, and less than 14 years in most of the 50 largest U.S. cities. In Detroit, for instance, net-zero energy houses pay off the investment in nine years. This is good news since housing is responsible for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions when their share of power plant emissions are included.
Zero-energy homes start with well-sealed and well-insulated attics, walls and basements or slabs. They often use triple-pane windows, especially in places with cold winters. Inside, energy-efficient appliances, highly efficient LED lighting and smart thermostats help avoid energy waste.
Their designs often take natural lighting into account, too, and position windows and overhangs for additional solar heating in the winter and shade in summer. Since the homes are sealed to avoid letting cold or hot air in—and cool or warm air out—they also have ventilation systems customized to maintain comfortable circulation.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Butina to cooperate, whatever that might mean for a spy. Could it wreck the ИЯA? Will we have a Trump wall shutdown? Will we have a WH chief of staff? Waking up to Ryan's fraud. What is Brexit, anyway? Can we all live in a yellow cheese submarine?x Embedded Content LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE
Earlier today, Donald Trump thought that the best idea he had for the day was to allow cameras in to broadcast his “private” negotiations and meeting with Democrats Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. That did not go well, as Pelosi and Schumer handed Trump his ass over and over again for about ten minutes on live television.Campaign Action
The situation was something of a disaster, as it once again laid bare the complete disconnect between this administration and the general will of the people—and basic facts. When Pelosi and Schumer spoke to reporters outside afterwards, they explained why they didn’t just dump a bag of ice on the president’s head and walk out of the room.
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Pelosi: We don’t want to contradict the president when he is putting forth figures that have no reality, no basis in fact. We have to, if we're going to proceed in all of this, have evidence-based, factual, truthful information about what works and what doesn't. I didn't want to, in front of those people, say, “You don't know what you're talking about.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have arrested 170 people who have stepped forward to potentially sponsor migrant children under U.S. custody, escalating an “unprecedented” baiting tactic that began this past fall. The Trump administration already has a record number of migrant kids in detention, including over 2,300 children locked away at a prison camp in Tornillo, Texas. This will make it worse.
“The arrests stemmed from background checks done by ICE for the Department of Health and Human Services on potential sponsors for unaccompanied children,” CNN reported. Of the 170 immigrants arrested by ICE, nearly 110 had no criminal record at all. But as administration officials have been doubling-down on sponsors allegedly in the name of children’s safety, they were also waiving background checks for the staffers hired to watch over those very same kids.
A government watchdog memo obtained by the Associated Press (AP) last month said “the former director of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement personally signed off on sidestepping requirements for child abuse and neglect checks at the tent city in Tornillo, Texas. None of the 2,100 staff has gone through FBI fingerprint checks either, but the Tornillo contractor says staff are vetted in other ways.” How reassuring.
House Democrats will most likely be probing this next year, because it appears that HHS officials lied to them about background checks, telling members that they had conducted proper checks on Tornillo staffers. “The Inspector General’s findings are unacceptable. In the next Congress, we will examine the Administration’s immigration and detention policies and the longstanding damage these policies may have on families and children.
Meanwhile, the administration has a record 14,000 migrant children in custody, the vast majority of them minors who came to the U.S. by themselves and were fleeing violence and other dangers. They should be released to sponsors, but instead those sponsors are getting arrested, leading to other sponsors being scared away, leading to children staying in detention longer. It’s a cruel, sick cycle, and it’s trademark Trump.
Also too, this will leave a mark.
Aide in rm when Pelosi described Oval mtg to colleagues said she crowed about Dems having gotten him to “fully own” a shutdown. Also said wall is “like a manhood thing for him. As if manhood could ever be associated with him.”
— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) December 11, 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's future life is going to be sheer hell, and he's going to do his damnedest to share that hell with the nation, starting with the threat to keep the Senate in session between Christmas and New Year's.
His own conference, along with Individual 1 and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have forced him into having a vote on a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that he's been fighting for months. Because the bill is bipartisan, some of the most rabid (looking at you, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton) in his conference are opposed to it, and so far McConnell has sided with them. On the other side is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee who says McConnell owes him this vote because of all the judicial nominees he's shoved through. "I think I’ve delivered pretty well, more judges than any previous president has gotten in their first two years, two new Supreme Court justices," said Grassley, so "maybe I should have some consideration for that."
McConnell says they may have to do this bill in the week after Christmas and before the new Congress is sworn in because there's so much to be done between now and then. They have Trump's shutdown to figure out, along with the farm bill, a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia and demanding the U.S. withdraw support for the war in Yemen, and a bipartisan push to pass legislation protecting the Mueller investigation.
This could all go in the must-pass spending bill that prevents a government shutdown. Except that Cotton insists he'll force a shutdown if McConnell tries to put the criminal justice reform bill in it. The shutdown ship, however, has pretty much sailed with Trump at the helm. Getting any leverage for anything they want to happen or not happen legislatively by threatening a government shutdown has been made utterly meaningless by Trump.
To make matters worse for McConnell, he's getting absolutely no help from nominal House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has totally checked out for the short duration of his remaining tenure. He may as well go back to Wisconsin.
The only thing that could be better is if Robert Mueller turned his attention to McConnell to find out just why he was so adamant about covering up Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, let's just enjoy the hell he's in now.
Republicans have long been the party of surrender. Their concern about the deficit exists only when it’s needed as a means of attacking Social Security and Medicare. Their fretting over “voter fraud” is limited to voters whose skin color makes them appear suspiciously Democratic. And immigration is important so long as it can be used to frighten voters in Iowa, without affecting the wait staff at the country club.
But in the last year, Republicans have flipped their surrender express into high gear. Not only have they given up any pretense of being worried about a yawning budget deficit that would have required multiple trips to the fainting couch under a Democratic president, and not only have Republicans developed a sudden disdain for genuine, provable election fraud, they’ve given up on democracy. As USA Today reports, anyone waiting for Republicans to get concerned about any of these issues will need to take “a time capsule to before the 2016 GOP convention.”
What’s also clear is that the fate of America now depends on whether Democrats can expand voting rights faster than Republicans can restrict them.
But Republican disdain for democracy isn’t just represented by the ever-tightening vice of laws restricting access, the closing of polling locations, the movement of polling stations away from communities of color, and the absolutely intentional and shameless effort to simply make it harder to vote. Republicans are now displaying a hatred for democracy that goes beyond trying to alter the outcome of an election in advance. They’re more and more willing to alter the outcome of an election when it’s over. In North Carolina, losing Republicans passed a bill to severely limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor in 2016. This type of legislative coup is now going even further in Wisconsin, where Republicans are using the lame duck session to democracy-proof the state.
The 2018 Midterms showed Republicans that they can no longer intimidate, inconvenience, and “purge” their way to easy victory. And they’re responding by simply instituting rules that erase results that they don’t like.
It was power grabs at the state level in the form of gerrymandering and voter restrictions that allowed Republicans to lock down legislatures and statehouses in state after state. Now that those tools are being challenged, they’ve moved on to the next level effort … which turns out to be simply ditching democracy.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday derailed an MSNBC discussion about President Donald Trump’s next chief of staff to point out that there are other topics more deserving media coverage.
During a segment about the next White House chief of staff, reporter Robert Costa told MSNBC host Hallie Jackson that the next person to hold the job would need the support of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
“Michael, what names pop up for you here?” Jackson asked Steele.
“None of them,” Steele replied. “We have to stop acting like we care.”
“Can I push back on that?” Jackson interrupted. “This is somebody who’s going to have to deal with a lot of stuff over the next couple of years and the re-election.”
“Of all the stuff they’ve got to deal with, what’s the one thing they’ve got to deal with the most?” Steele shot back.
“Donald Trump,” Jackson replied.
“Thank you,” Steele said. “So, why are we having this conversation? Donald Trump will be his own chief of staff. The chief of staff is not an attack dog, alright. You don’t bring in a chief of staff to be an attack dog.”
“Donald Trump might,” the MSNBC host offered.
“Again, that’s my point,” Steele remarked. “You’re making my point. The reality is this is an end-of-year Christmas show. This is better than the Rockettes in New York. Because everybody is now going, ‘Who? Who? Who?'”
“No one cares,” he added. “Because at the end of the day, Donald Trump will be his own chief of staff, just as he’s his own communications director.”
The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party is calling for a new election in the state’s 9th Congressional District … but he’s not pointing to the absentee ballot fraud carried about by a Republican operative working for Mark Harris, the candidate who holds a narrow lead. No, according to Dallas Woodhouse, the reason for a new election lies in the early vote.
According to an affidavit from an elections assistant in Bladen County—where the absentee ballot shenanigans happened—the early votes were counted before Election Day, and with people other than precinct judges present.
This is … interesting. A call for a new election is a call for a new election, but this looks an awful lot like Republicans trying to distract from the intentional fraud done by one of their party’s operatives, working for their candidate, in a scheme that has been going on since 2010. So, yes. Let’s have that new election. But that doesn’t mean the investigation of Leslie McCrae Dowless’s absentee ballot fraud gets dropped, or the investigation into the Harris campaign’s relationship with Dowless.
Border agents came armed and shielded with riot gear. They came shielded with prayers. Approximately 30 faith leaders—including those from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and indigenous communities—were arrested at the U.S./Mexico border Monday, among the hundreds who gathered in San Diego to defend the international and U.S. right to seek asylum at our borders.
“As a Quaker,” said organizer Laura Boyce of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), “I believe there is that of the divine in all of us. This belief calls us to stand with those fleeing violence and poverty, and to call on our government to uphold the human rights of migrants and end the militarization of border communities. In the face of unfounded fear, racism and violence, courageous action is necessary.”
The faith leaders were among the 400 people who gathered to stand in solidarity with the thousands who continue to have their processing slow-walked by border officials as others have been illegally blocked altogether from presenting themselves at the border. When faith leaders “reached the enforcement zone,” a AFSC statement says, “they were stopped by a line of Border Patrol agents in riot gear. Leaders moved forward to offer a ceremonial blessing. Thirty people were taken into custody.”
"We can do better,” said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. “Our sacred texts tell us to tear down walls, to welcome the immigrant and to treat everyone as if they are God's children.”
The action fell on both Human Rights Day and the start of a week of action called “Love Knows No Borders: A Moral Call for Migrant Justice.” Some supporters from the gathering carried signs reading "No Cages, No Walls,” a reminder to all that more than 130 days past a federal judge’s reunification deadline, children kidnapped from the arms of asylum seekers at the southern border continue to remain in U.S. custody.
What's the best reason to visit healthcare.gov this week?
Because it's the final week of open enrollment?
Because you might save some money and get insurance?
Because Trump doesn't want you to?
Barack Obama wants you to go to Healthcare.gov because affordable health insurance is something everyone should have, as a human right. We've still got a long way to go to achieve universal coverage but opting out of progress made is not an option.
Go to healthcare.gov TODAY and sign up.
No jump shots. No ferns. No memes. Not this time. I’m going to give it to you straight: If you need health insurance for 2019, the deadline to get covered is December 15. Go to https://t.co/ob1Ynoesod today and pass this on — you just might save a life. pic.twitter.com/8mHMsXGY0g
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 10, 2018
Gotta admit, Private-Citizen Obama, I miss the ferns.
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Mexico is gonna pay for the Wall.
Donald Trump held a public discussion while negotiating with Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on funding the government. The congress must pass a spending bill before December 24 and the "president" sign it, or the government will shut down.
So Trump held a bizarre "public conversation" on camera in the Oval Office with Chuck and Nancy, and got schooled on how basic legislation works.
Trump, visibly flustered, finally admitted he would gladly shut the government down unless he gets what he wants. Welcome to the Trump shutdown.
Again, I thought Mexico was paying for the wall.
Trump was completely outclassed by his opponents throughout the session.
Nancy Pelosi clearly did not want to have these conversations in public, so that as officials they could freely discuss and negotiate a plan to keep the government open without being a national spectacle.
But Trump, as usual, turned important government negotiations into a crazed reality television show. He was pretty nasty throughout.
Nancy Pelosi began by telling Trump, a "shutdown is not worth anything" and said Republicans run the entire government and they should pass legislation. Trump whined he needed ten Democratic votes in the Senate to pass anything.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai was questioned by the House Judiciary Committee today. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D, CA-19) asked him why an image search for "idiot" brings up pictures of Donald Trump.
Pichai went into detail about artificial intelligence and scraping and daily updating of search results.
Lofgren replied that his answer indicated there was not some "little man behind a curtain" manipulating results to make Trump look stupid.
No, it's not one man, it's actually trillions of users associating the so-called president with that word.
This hearing appears to be one last lame duck effort (AGAIN) to accuse Google of "liberal bias" rather than look into Russia's manipulation of social media in the 2016 election. CBS:
Google CEO Sundar Pichai is defending his company's efforts to protect the privacy of users and denying accusations of political bias as he testifies before Congress Tuesday morning. The hearing in the House Judiciary Committee began at 10 a.m., with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy telling Pichai that there is a "widening gap of distrust" between tech companies and the American people. McCarthy also said he is concerned Google's business practices may have been influenced by employees' political bias against conservatives.
Here’s a chart showing estimates of the uninsured from two reliable sources: the CDC and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
As you can see, both ticked up slightly in 2017 by about three-tenths of a percentage point. Is this Donald Trump’s fault? It could be. He certainly tried his best. On the other hand, the CDC survey includes standard error bars, which are represented by the light blue on the chart. Any change within that light blue could be real or could just be a statistical artifact that will go away during the next few surveys.
So which is it? Well, the CDC has done two quarterly surveys so far in 2018, and the uninsured rate for January-June is down four-tenths of a point. For the time being, then, I think the best guess is that the uptick in 2017 is just a meaningless statistical artifact. Donald Trump tried his best, but in the end he accomplished nothing at all. Here’s an up-to-date chart:
This will warm the cockles of your heart. Start at about 6 minutes to avoid Trump’s bloviating.
It looks like Pelosi and Schumer did some serious preparation for this meeting. They handled it brilliantly and walked Trump right into owning any government shutdown that may occur.
Also note Pence, who looks like he would like to sink into the ground.
I'd love to start this post with "Hey, James Comey, nobody asked you your opinion about impeachment!"
But Nicolle Wallace did ask him, at an event at the 92nd Street Y. So there's that.
Here's some key quotes:
"All of us should use every breath we have to make sure the lies stop on January 20, 2021."
"We need a moment of inflection where we all get off the couch and say, 'That is not who we are,' and, in a landslide, rid ourselves of this attack on our values."
By contrast, impeachment would "let the country off the hook" and "30% of the country would believe Trump had been the victim of a coup. "
"The people who can hold him accountable for that is us. That's not the Department of Justice's job. That's our job: not to become numb to it and to stand up and participate in holding him accountable to those norms."
"We're going to have an election in, now less than two years. We must hold him accountable. And it's not a Republican thing or a Democratic thing, it's an American thing because this is unacceptable behavior for the leader of our country."
Donald Trump decided that today was the day for another episode of “the wall.” Trump invited soon-to-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer to stop by the White House so he could push them to agree to wall funding in exchange for his not shutting down the government and throwing thousands out of work just in time for Christmas. The meeting was initially supposed to be off camera. But then Trump decided this would be a great opportunity to bring in the cameras and show the Democrats who is boss. Trump came out smiling and lying, attempting to equate “border security” with his multi-billion wall and maintaining that “large sections” of the wall were already built and working.
But neither Pelosi or Schumer was in a mood to roll over. Pelosi piled in immediately, challenging Trump on his ability to get a bill with the wall past even the Republican-controlled House. Trump continually insisted that he could do so “in a second,” though he hasn’t. Pelosi pushed Trump hard enough on this issue that she practically knocked him out of his chair, forcing Trump to retreat to claiming that Republicans “won the Senate.” That was a moment when Chuck Schumer pulled out the quickest reply of the event.
Schumer: When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana he’s in real trouble.
The rest of the on-air wrestling match consisted of Democrats attempting to get Trump to own up to shutting down the government. Trump repeatedly insisted that he wasn’t responsible for the last shut down (he was) and didn’t say he would shut down the government last time (he did). But less than thirty seconds later, Schumer had trump pinned down and forced him to either drop the whole idea or own it.
Trump: If we don't get what we want I will shut down the government. I am proud to shutdown the government for border security. ... I will take the mantle for shutting down the government.
After the meeting, Schumer pointed out that so little actual construction has taken place that less than 6 percent of the money allocated to its funding last year has been spent. There seems little point laying out more money for a wall that’s not one seems to want—and which Trump is claiming is getting built “way under budget.”
The invisible man in the room — Mike Pence, who said not one audible word in the whole event.
Life is frustrating for the few Republican women in the House. Their numbers are dwindling even as Democrats are electing more women than ever, and rather than seeing this as a problem, the men leading their party are blowing them off.
When it came to who would get the job leading the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the classic move of choosing a less-qualified man over a woman who’d been doing everything right, a man—Tom Emmer—who has gone on to say that another Republican woman in the House is making a “mistake” by focusing on helping Republican women win primaries and who is in strong denial about what’s going on with his party. Rep. Ann Wagner, the woman passed over to head the NRCC, is still being a good soldier about that decision, saying only that “The leader had a different plan” despite reportedly being upset, as well she should be.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, the woman who Emmer said was making a mistake, wasn’t as submissive. “NEWSFLASH I wasn’t asking for permission,” she tweeted. And Wagner, too, says she’ll move ahead with trying to help elect Republican women, even if she’s not doing it from the official party committee:
“The next election should have started the night of Nov. 7, that’s how passionate and dedicated to it I am in moving toward building a conference that looks more like America — and certainly adding more women and diversity to our numbers,” Wagner said in a recent interview. “And if they get around to doing an autopsy and ‘lessons learned’ discussion, then great. But there are a number of us who are just going to forge ahead.”
Being a Republican woman already must take a lot of swallowing hard, sitting down, and shutting up—or just the passionate belief that wealth and whiteness matter much, much more than being a woman. But today’s Republican men seem determined to really rub it in that women are second-class citizens in their party.
Check this out, the Kaiser Family Foundation has done the math and found that 27 percent of the 15.9 million uninsured people who could get insurance through the Affordable Care Act could get “bronze” plans for $0 premiums, after subsides. That’s 4.2 million people. Here’s the state breakdown in map form:
For roughly $20 to $130 per month after subsidies, they could get more comprehensive “silver” plans with lower deductibles and reduced copays and coinsurance.
But time’s short. Most states end enrollment on Saturday, December 15. Help spread the word. Free help for you or anyone you are assisting is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, help is just a quick call or click away. Call 1-800-318-2596, visit localhelp.healthcare.gov or make a one-on-one appointment now.
Here are the states with extended deadlines for enrollment:
California – January 15, 2019
Colorado – January 15, 2019
D.C. – January 31, 2019
Massachusetts – January 23, 2019
Minnesota – January 13, 2019
New York – January 31, 2019
Rhode Island – January 31, 2019
Make no mistake: This year's assault on journalists starts and ends with Donald Trump. Time Magazine:
That world is led, in some ways, by a U.S. President whose embrace of despots and attacks on the press has set a troubling tone. “I think the biggest problem that we face right now is that the beacon of democracy, the one that stood up for both human rights and press freedom—the United States—now is very confused,” says Ressa, the Rappler editor. “What are the values of the United States?”
Runners-up for the award are:
Donald Trump (He "won" in 2016, and those irony quotes count for the magazine and the presidency --Time obviously decided to avoid World War II analogies this year),
and Robert Mueller. Maybe next year, Bob.
The whole article at Time is really worth reading. Those honored at Jamal Khashoggi (the first time the magazine has chosen to honor a deceased person), the staff of The Capital Gazette, who lost five members to a shooting and published the next day, Maria Ressa, arrested by the Duerte government in the Phillipines, and Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone, two Reuters reporters imprisoned in Myanmar for covering the murders of Muslims in their home country.
Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger write today about “How the IRS Was Gutted.” The nickel answer to the question is easy: The IRS was gutted by Republicans who didn’t like having their rich friends audited all the time. For the longer answer, you’ll have to click the link and read the story. In the meantime, however, here are two charts:
On the left, you can see that the IRS enforcement budget has been slashed since 2010. But it’s the chart on the right that shows exactly what effect that’s had. Poor folks have seen a small decline in audits of their little annual EITC payments, but that was always peanuts anyway. The real revenue-loser is in the green line, showing that audits of rich people have plummeted from 8 percent to 2.5 percent. If you’re rich, the odds of being audited has gone down by two-thirds over the past decade or so.
This GOP war against the IRS has been going on since the mid-90s, when Republicans first started describing IRS agents as jackbooted thugs knocking down doors at midnight and scaring the women and children. But in 2010 Republicans won control of the House—and finally they could really do something to help their donors. And they did. They trashed the IRS enforcement staff and cut the revenue from audits by more than a third, from $23 billion to $14 billion. Mission accomplished.