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Politics

Lawmakers Considering Forcing Social Media to Disclose Whose Buying Political Ads

October 8, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

Senate portrait for U.S. Senator Mark Warner.

In the past Republicans were against laws regulating political speech, but in the wake of the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election conservative lawmakers are rethinking the issue.

Congressional Republicans are thinking about joining with Democrats to require more transparency for political advertising on Twitter and Facebook. Both parties would like to avoid a repeat of the 2016 election in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

Senators Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, say that the revelation that Facebook sold political ads to accounts linked to Russians is just the beginning. They would like to create legislation that would strictly regulate technology and social media companies so that they must reveal who they are selling political ads to. The goal would be to bring online content closer to the types of transparency television must provide.

Even though historically Republicans have been against regulation of political speech, they now seem to be more open to preventing foreigners, especially Russians, from having influence on the soon to be upon us 2018 elections. Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and James Lanford of Oklahoma both sit on the intelligence committee where Warner is the head Democrat. They both said last week that they are considering the Warner-Klobacher proposal.

“We’re talking it through,” Lankford said in an interview, stating that he has “not determined yet what I’m going to do.”
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, also said that, although he hasn’t yet taken a closer look at the proposal, he is amenable to the idea.

“We need full disclosure,” McCain said. He added that in recent reports he was a target of fake Russian Facebook accounts and bots. He warned that “Kremlin-backed advertisements are just one element of Vladimir Putin’s long-term goal of undermining democracies around the world.”

Paul Ryan Explains the Basics of Tax Reform

October 2, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC 2014 in Washington, DC. Courtesy Gage Skidmore.

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, outlined the main points of the Republican proposal for tax reform, saying that if the Republican plan passes through Congress, taxpayers will be able to file their tax returns on a postcard.

“We’re going to double your standard deductions so you can file your taxes on a postcard,” the Wisconsin Republican said.

Ryan was delineating the plan for tax reform on “Face the Nation,” a CBS political news program. Ryan said that the middle class will be the main beneficiaries of the legislation, in addition to corporations.

“We’re going to take people who are in the 10 percent bracket and put a lot of that money in a zero percent tax bracket. We’re taking the 15 percent bracket down to 12 percent. We’re going to get rid of the marriage penalty. We’re going to increase the child tax credit.”

He added that incentives for buying a home, giving charity, and education will be maintained in the new tax code.

The plan will not increase the national debt, insisted Ryan.

“This will have to be a deficit-neutral tax bill,” he said, adding that “this tax code and this tax reform will give us faster economic growth. Faster economic growth helps raise the economy, which raises revenues. And that helps us tackle the deficit.”

McConnell Resurrecting the Otherwise Dead Repeal and Replace Issue?

September 18, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in Health Care, Politics

Mich McConnell. Photo by Gage Skidmore

The fight over the Affordable Care Act might see one more chapter until it will be forever put to rest on September 30.

The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell and those colleagues on his leadership team, are once again seriously considering a desperate last effort to repeal Obamacare. The bill McConnell is considering bringing to a vote would limit the role of the federal government in the health care system by substituting its involvement with block grants to states.

The final decision on whether to hold a vote has not yet happened, but McConell told his caucus that if he can get 50 of the 52 Republican senators to support the bill, written by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, he will bring it to the Senate for a vote.

At the moment, the bill does not have the minimum of 50 supporters among the 52 Republican senators. The bill, if passed, would replace the tax subsidies that are the basis of the ACA with block grants; curtail the individual insurance mandate, and reduce the Medicaid expansion. Nevertheless, McConell and his team will take the pulse of the senate this week during private meetings arranged with President Trump’s assistance.

“McConnell and his team are engaged and serious about the vote and working with the conference to build support for Graham-Cassidy,” a source said Sunday. The “White House is also operating with all hands on deck.”