Enough with Russia, Focus on Lack of Results

All I see and hear these days from the mainstream media, from pundits, and from too many on social media is constant speculation and incessant leaks about the Russia investigation. This includes ties and potential collusion between President Trump’s campaign and transition team.

It’s a bit much. Most regular people don’t have much tangible connection to these leaks and the investigation. What these people are desperate to see from government and politicians are real results for their families, their livelihoods, and their communities. Those results have not happened for many since the inauguration, unless, of course, you happen to be a special interest group or in the administrative class of big business.

Most hardworking Americans haven’t had a reasonable raise in a very long time. That’s a massive issue, not just for putting food on tables and paying bills, but for small businesses trying to make a profit and reinvest in their communities, businesses, and payrolls.

Americans want better paying jobs. They deserve better opportunities for opening and maintaining their own small businesses. They’re not looking for a hand out, as some enjoy characterizing any effort to increase wages and jobs.

There’s nothing wrong with being successful. Success simply shouldn’t remain out of reach for hardworking people. Those with special access to politicians and those in big business who can dictate terms to others cannot be the only people that pull in the big bucks.

How many times do we have to be suckers for trickle down economics before we say enough is enough? We deserve so much better from our elected officials and from our government. It begins with expecting better from ourselves, and that means holding our elected officials accountable for an obvious lack of results.

Some want to say government should get out of the way. We’ve tried that. The result is that the economy implodes, jobs are shipped overseas, and wages stagnate for a generation. It’s about time we do something different.

I suggest focusing on the economy, on communities, on families and a complete lack of any tangible results from this Congress and this President. These Russian investigations are going to continue to develop without the continued obsession by so many. These Russian investigations aren’t going to raise anyone’s wages nor create any jobs for regular Americans.

Enough is enough.

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Rauner and Republican Propaganda Machine Back to Work

Gov. Rauner and State House and Senate Republicans are once again trying to blame Democrats for actually doing the work of the hardworking people of Illinois. This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but the disinformation campaign will likely work for many downstate voters stressed by low wages, struggling economies, and high property taxes.

By using coded words like “eventually” and “balanced budget,” the Republican propaganda machine is hard at work to distort reality yet again. The Governor has never submitted a SINGLE balanced budget, as required by our state constitution. The word “eventually” actually means they’re making gross assumptions.

Illinois has one of the most egregious and outdated tax systems in the country. We don’t tax 70% of the economy. That’s why property taxes are so high.

It’s easy to blame this all on spending. Why bother with fixing our flat tax model?

The flat tax places all the burdens on the working poor, the middle class, property owners, and small businesses. The flat tax also allows the richest in Illinois to pay an effective rate that is FAR below what any other taxpayer or business owner pays. Further, their effect property tax rates are lower as well due to caps on the value taxed.

If Republicans were serious about balanced budgets, the Governor would have submitted three in the last three years. He’s not even signed into law ONE, let alone submit ANY.

All their efforts have done is continue to make downstate communities suffer at their ineffectual leadership and inefficient use of the time given to them while in office.

Don’t buy the excuses. Check their privilege and challenge their incumbency.

The Trump-Pence Carrier Deal Reality Check

It’s all about jobs. As with most issues, verification is more important than trust. Remember that (in)famous Carrier deal that Trump and Pence cooked up to save 1,400 jobs? It required $2 million in tax breaks (you know who actually pays for those).

Now, Carrier has announced they are eliminating 632 jobs (moving these to Mexico). This is far below the bad deal Trump-Pence made with taxpayer money.

They don’t care about jobs, raising wages, and making your families’ lives safer, more rewarding of your hard work, and worthy of your vote.

Let’s challenge ourselves and all incumbents in the coming year and a half. We have to do better because we deserve better.

Indiana Business Journal

Coles County Tax Assessment Process Exposes Rift Between Business and Government

This is a crucially important issue for our community. Many of these businesses are receiving tax bills with 200% to as much as 400% increases. That would kill nearly any business.

Considering how much Coles County has already suffered at the hands of Gov. Rauner, lack of political will by state rep. Reggie Phillips, state senator Dale Righter, and no support whatsoever from Rep. Shimkus, this blow could be a death blow.

The County Board suggests that they can’t do anything. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Why are we paying them to make excuses? It’s a one party board, so what’s the issue?

Here’s a link to WCIA’s coverage of the meeting. And, here’s the local newspaper’s article on the County Board meeting.

The GOP Gut Punch to American Health Care

This is what the Republicans passed today, disguising it as American Health Care, when it actually shreds protections.

A) rids millions of their healthcare coverage

B) destroys pre-existing condition coverage

C) makes costs for the elderly skyrocket

D) ends the bans on lifetime and annual benefit limits gave all Americans with healthcare coverage

E) guts Medicaid funding (which hurts the states and the most vulnerable Americans)

F) gives a massive $346 billion tax cut to the wealthiest Americans.

G) cuts all funding for Planned Parenthood (which hurts women, children, and pregnant mothers)

Bravo, Republicans!

Oh, and who is exempt from the pre-existing condition clause? Congress.

How Brave! At least they’re fat cat donors will have more money in their pockets to gobble up more small companies so they can raise prices, donate more money to politicians, and takeaway more of your rights.

LA Times Article

Assault on Hard Working American’s Paychecks

Well, the GOP has targeted hard working Americans once again. This time, they’ve quickly passed an overhaul of our nation’s overtime rules. You have to work for an employer for 12 continuous months and at least 1,000 hours for these rules to apply to you. Also, you cannot accrue more than 80 hours of paid time off through this new system.
If the employer or the employee doesn’t keep strict records as to the amount of overtime hours worked/accrued, or the employer alters the records after an employee is fired, laid off, or becomes disabled or ill, then the employee may lose those accrued time-off hours or be forced to fight the employer in court.
Besides those rather obvious drawbacks to HR 1180, there are more concerning issues under the surface. An employer may prefer to allow employees who opt into this new system to work overtime over those employees who wish to be paid overtime instead of accrue time off pay. There is a specific clause that would allow any employer to force an employee to work even when time off was requested, thus forfeiting their pay from overtime work.
This should concern most hard working Americans. It should concern the GOP, but it does not. My own representative, Rep. Shimkus, voted for this bill. He has stopped co-sponsoring really nasty bills like this, but he still votes for them, especially when there is no chance for the public to weigh in before a vote on the floor.
The GOP needs to allow the public to learn about what it’s pushing through in Washington, D.C. Their constituents deserve to know what they are doing to screw them out of pay for the work they’re doing to pay their bills.

The Assault on the First Amendment has Begun

Amazingly enough, the second 100 days will be an assault on equality, equity, and actual freedom.

The separation of church and state is an ideal that is under direct threat. The reality that some within our government and country wish to scapegoat their religion to discriminate and alienate others should be concerning to us all. However, many people are being misled by their church and political leadership that their religious freedom is somehow being infringed upon, despite the reality that they exercise that religious freedom on a daily basis if they so choose.

What they wish to do is to expand our country’s religious holidays, federally mandated I might add, and expand our country’s present tax exempt status to churches to include political contributions, which they can donate to any political campaign or PAC of their choice.

This is all predicated on the so-called War on Christianity and Christmas perpetrated by fake news sites like angrypatriot and Russian propaganda artists. There is no such war.

Simply because someone happens to greet you with “Happy Holidays” is not an assault on your religious freedom or your religion’s holidays. It’s that person’s choice. You can accept it or not. That is your choice.

The fact that the religious majority in this country with churches of every flavor and stripe on nearly every corner and certainly in every county, town, and city in America believe their religious freedom and liberty needs to be forced down every person that walks into their businesses, every employee they hire, is not just ridiculous, it’s unAmerican. It goes against the very founding of our country.

Just because you disagree with someone based on your religion, doesn’t mean you get to force your religious ideology on them, their families, and their lives. That’s how they do things in Iran, in Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the world. We are not Iran. We are not Saudi Arabia.

This is America, where our rights are actually protected by the First Amendment. Not the right to discriminate, but to avoid being discriminated against.

The real war here is the War on common decency and respect.

https://www.thenation.com/article/leaked-draft-of-trumps-religious-freedom-order-reveals-sweeping-plans-to-legalize-discrimination/

Bill O’Reilly’s Final Volume, “Killing My Career”

First there was Killing the Rising Sun, then Killing Patton, you knew Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln couldn’t be far behind. Killing Jesus and Killing Reagan were unexpected.

But, now that Bill O’Reilly has a lot of time on his hands, he’s actually not using a ghost writer to do all the work.

To finish out this esteemed work, he’s set out on the final volume, Killing My Career.

My thoughts on labor and unions

I grew up in the 80s in Sullivan. My father owned a small business, an auto body shop. When the unions were busted by Reagan and big business, the region never recovered and the community suffered as a direct result. I’ve been defending unions and fighting against right to work legislation wherever I’ve been. Many of my closest friends and colleagues are state workers. My extended family has many who thrived in union jobs.

We need to strengthen unions wherever and whenever we can. Right to work is another reframe by the far right to make the working poor and middle class get behind another failed policy that will only drive down wages and decrease their rights.

I often hear people tear down teachers for their unions and pensions. Mostly, this is due to a misinformation campaign by the far right and big business. Teachers don’t receive Social Security when they retire, so they depend on their pensions. Educating constituents on these simple but often confusing issues is the role of any candidate or elected official.