A Republican Congressman Who isn’t a Wacko!

Who is he?

A few hints: He voted to accept the results of the 2020 vote, AND to impeach Trump.

He also represents the same district that Justin Amash and Gerald Ford used to.

He also is being attacked by the Trumpisters and is resigned to the fact that he may be a one-term Congressman.

He had a long interview at The View. I found reading the transcript somewhat hopeful — perhaps more Republicans will snap out of their craziness. I am cutting and pasting some of the most trenchant paragraphs.

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Peter Meijer (the Congressman): … the rhetoric and the narrative in the public was wildly out of step with what more serious minds were discussing in the halls of Congress. A lot of my colleagues who were planning to object to the Electoral College certification, most of those objections hinged upon an interpretation of Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution, around the time, place and manner of elections, and how state legislatures had primacy in determining electoral processes. Now, it was an argument being made selectively against six states that the president had lost, and not being made in a dozen plus states that he had won. So I had issues on the consistency.

But a lot of the folks who were arguing to not certify the Electoral College results — and specifically, Arizona and Pennsylvania ended up being challenged with a Senator joining, so they were brought to the floor. It wasn’t that this was a massively fraudulent stolen election. It was much more grounded arcane basis, but with the understanding that this is an attempt for us to talk more about the process. That was the feeling inside the chamber. Those were the conversations. And then contrast that with President Trump’s Twitter account, and you see how two worlds of thought emerged. The world that said, this was actually a landslide victory for Donald Trump, that it was all stolen away and changed, and votes were flipped in Dominion Voting Systems.

And then you just go into the fever swamp of conspiracy theories. That’s what a lot of the supporters of the president were told. And that’s where some could argue, oh, when we meant stop the steal, we just meant, again, we don’t like these electoral process modifications. But that’s not how it came across.

Michael Barbaro (interviewer): Well, congressman, you sound like you’re being quite sympathetic toward your Republican colleagues in the House who chose not to certify the results. Do you think that those arguments and sentiments were genuine on their part?

Peter Meijer: I think, for some, absolutely. Again, I have disagreements. I do think some arrived at those conclusions in a genuine way. It’s —

Michael Barbaro: Because I think their support undeniably contributed, along with the president’s claims, to a pretty widespread consensus among Republicans that was baseless, right? That the election had been fraudulent. You really don’t think that they were operating primarily out of fear of their constituents and of the president in making these objections?

Peter Meijer: I’m not going to speak to what’s in their hearts. I know that I was watching the president’s speech on January 6. I was watching the speeches that came before it, the threats from members of the Trump family that if we didn’t object and try to change the results — there was a tremendous amount of political pressure. […]

Going into the Electoral College certification, I thought it would be one of the toughest votes of this term because of how many people were calling in and sharing, oftentimes easily disprovable, Facebook screenshots or sending a report. And I’d say, well, I’ve read this and I’ve looked into these citations, or I’ve actually called that clerk — and just how much got amplified. And it was a kind of a game of factual whack-a-mole. You would push back on one thing, such as, well, 60 of the 61 cases that the Trump campaign brought, they lost. And the one they won was very minor, and I think it was a temporary stay.

And then the pushback is, well, they were dismissed due to a lack of standing. OK, I mean, that’s a response, but that’s also not a good response. Well, here was all the widespread fraud? Well then, how come even the president’s lawyers were not arguing in court that there was fraud?

And you just find me a law enforcement body that has actually substantiated any of this, an investigative body, a court of law, anything that we can point to in a credible manner. But the point is, I mean, a lot of our constituents felt that this had been a stolen election because people they looked to and trusted told them that it was.

Michael Barbaro: Right, including congresspeople.

Peter Meijer: Including members of Congress.

Michael Barbaro: You seem to be nibbling around the edges of this, but I just want to state it really clearly. You saw a distinction in what your Republican colleagues in the House were up to. They were concerned about a process, frankly mail-in voting during a pandemic and whether it was done properly. But the way their concerns were being interpreted by their voters — and alongside the president’s public claims — was that a massive fraud had been perpetrated, Joe Biden’s victory was fraudulent.

And I just have to say it feels to me that many of these colleagues of yours must have known that that would be the impact. You can’t really divorce what they’re doing from what the president is doing and say, oh, they had a higher minded approach to this.

Peter Meijer: There’s a reason why I voted to certify both. There’s a reason why I signed on to a surprisingly cross-ideological letter stating why we believe that the challenge process was unwise. I think the individual arguments — I understand how some could make it. It was when the collective argument became something completely different. The whole was a more dangerous version of the sum of its parts.Michael Barbaro

I’m sensing that very early on, you are already figuring out how to navigate your way in a Republican Party where you and your views are in the minority.Peter Meijer

There was immense pressure. And again, I don’t want this to come across that any one individual’s vote was influenced solely by one thing or the other. But I had colleagues who were resigned to the fact that they may get primaried because they wouldn’t vote to object to Electoral College certification in one state or another, that this would guarantee them they would fall on the wrong side of an out-of-office Donald Trump, who has hundreds of millions of dollars in the campaign account.

I had another colleague who expressed concern about that colleague’s family and their safety if he voted to — how he were to be interpreted if he voted to affirm a stolen election. So I think there was just a ton of pressure from a variety of angles. And myself, I had consigned myself that this would be probably a potentially fatal — I thought I could survive it — but a potentially fatal political vote.

[He describes at some length the horrors of being in the Capitol on January 6, then finding out the Capitol has been breached and then having to hide with the rest of the members of Congress for their very lives. Afterwards:]

Peter Meijer: I had hoped that folks would see, I mean, just the fire that was being played with. And then I think several senators did. I mean, many of the objections that had been raised were withdrawn.

Michael Barbaro: But not many House members.

Peter Meijer: There were a handful. And I get it. I mean, the names were signed. Right? The statements had been put out. They had been talking about it on social media. It wasn’t the easiest thing to undo. But let me put it this way. There were a number of folks who got up on the floor and gave the same speech that night, while there was a crime scene investigation and a dead woman’s blood drying a couple of feet outside the door, they were giving the same speech that evening they had written this morning. Maybe a throwaway line about condemning political violence.

But I mean, just the dissonance, it was staggering.

Michael Barbaro: Right. Let me ask you this. Were you disappointed by the number of House colleagues who, after what had just happened that day, after their own lives had been threatened, went on and voted to object to Biden’s win?

Peter Meijer: I think there was just a disbelief. I get the sense that sometimes, especially if you’re running in a district where winning the primary means you win the general, you get these feedback loops. And where —

Michael Barbaro: But you’re talking — you’re talking politics, and I get that. But I’m asking if you, in your heart of hearts, were disappointed.

Peter Meijer: Yes. Yes. Can I go back to politics?

The List of Trump’s Accomplishments

Have you seen that long list of DJT’s accomplishments during his first three years in office? I did, and I began fact-checking some of them.

Here is number 3: “Trump signed a law to make cruelty to animals a federal felony so that animal abusers face tougher consequences.” It’s true that he signed this law. It’s also true that you probably never heard of this action, because it was completely bipartisan and uncontroversial: it passed both houses unanimously. (see here, here, and here) So no Presidential jaw-boning or arm-twisting or preaching from the bully pulpit was needed.

Is that something for a list of greatest hits?

Farah Stockman of the NYT did a much more complete job of fact-checking of all of the over 100 supposed Trump administration ‘accomplishments’. Here it is, but I think it understates the maliciousness of this list. So I am adding a few remarks in red. If I can get this online wordpress editor interface to stop fighting me every step of the way.

==================================

A Fact-Checked List of Trump Accomplishments

It’s been circulating on social media for months. Here’s what I [Farah Stockman – gfb] found when I looked into these claims.

By Farah Stockman

Ms. Stockman is a member of the editorial board of the NYT.

  • Sept. 11, 2020
    • This list of President Trump’s accomplishments has been circulating on social media for months and has most likely been viewed by millions of people. I examined each claim to the best of my ability, reaching out to people and institutions who had special insight to see if they considered the claims accurate.

Some takeaways: Few items are outright false, which is something to celebrate in the age of QAnon conspiracy theories. Some are misleading and some are absolutely true. About a quarter relate to Mr. Trump’s signing of bills that Congress passed, many of which he had little to do with. A large portion of items on the list credit Mr. Trump for a booming economy, which is no longer booming because of the coronavirus pandemic.

You can read my piece about what I learned from the experience of fact-checking this list here. But I decided to post the full list as written, including the original emojis, to give readers a chance to examine it for themselves and see what Mr. Trump’s supporters are touting as his biggest achievements.

1. Trump recently signed 3 bills to benefit Native people. One gives compensation to the Spokane tribe for loss of their lands in the mid-1900s, one funds Native language programs, and the third gives federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana.

True, but tribal leaders credit bipartisan efforts in Congress for those bills. In 2019, Mr. Trump signed the Spokane Reservation Equitable Compensation Act for the loss of land that was flooded by the Grand Coulee Dam. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited the reservation and pledged to support the bill. But Carol Evans, chairwoman of the Spokane Tribal Business Council, said most of the credit for the law goes to two members of Congress from Washington, Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican. Mr. Trump also signed the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, which revises an existing grant program. That bill was introduced by Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico. Lastly, Mr. Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, which included a provision that gave long-overdue federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe. Tribal Chairman Gerald Gray credits the bipartisan efforts of Senators Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Steve Daines, a Republican, both of Montana, for tucking the tribal recognition provision into the military spending bill.

See More

2. Trump finalized the creation of Space Force as our 6th Military branch.

True. But senior military leaders publicly opposed its creation, including Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense, James Mattis, because they argued it would create further complicated bureaucracy and counteract the Air Force’s work to defend the country’s space assets.


3. Trump signed a law to make cruelty to animals a federal felony so that animal abusers face tougher consequences.

True. A bipartisan group in Congress also deserves credit for the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. “Deserves credit?” Heck, it was unanimous in both houses. Why should this be controversial at all and why does DJT deserve any credit?


4.) Violent crime has fallen every year he’s been in office after rising during the 2 years before he was elected.

The violent crime rate has dropped steadily since 1999, from 523 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1999 to 432 in 2009 to 369 in 2018. The rate rose slightly in 2015 and 2016, but the general trend has been a long downward slide that predated his election.

[Let’s see this in a single graph going back 60 years. While I am not exactly sure where the cutoff is between the various Republican and Democratic presidential terms over this time, Bush1 was president during the high point. If you see a tremendous decrease in crime during the term of The Great Prevaricator, you are sorely deluded.]

Trump Wrong on Crime Record - FactCheck.org

5. Trump signed a bill making CBD and Hemp legal.

True. Congress also deserves credit for the inclusion of this measure in the 2018 Farm Bill, which Mr. Trump signed.

“McConnell (R-KY), along with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), introduced the bill earlier this year. It was wrapped into the broader farm bill, which mostly deals with agriculture subsidies and food assistance programs, and passed with that legislation. Trump signed the bill into law on Thursday, after Congress passed it last week. – gfb. If a President really wanted to do something great, he or she could use the ‘bully pulpit’ to advocate the complete decriminalization of all forms of this plant, to free and/or expunge the record every single person who has ever been harmed by police action for owning, using, selling, or growing it. And give back all fines and seized property WITH INTEREST AND PENALTIES. And to reimburse all those who were imprisoned at some set rate. Also – all subsequent convictions or fines… Not gonna happen, is it, Donnie?}


6. Trump’s EPA gave $100 million to fix the water infrastructure problem in Flint, Michigan.

Both President Barack Obama and Mr. Trump deserve credit for this allocation, which was set in motion before Mr. Obama left office.

7. Under Trump’s leadership, in 2018 the U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of crude oil.

True. Domestic oil production has been expanding since 2010, predating the Trump administration.


8. Trump signed a law ending the gag orders on Pharmacists that prevented them from sharing money-saving information.

True. Mr. Trump tweeted in support of this law and deserves credit for using the bully pulpit of the presidency to demand transparency in drug prices. But Congress deserves most of the credit for the unanimous 2018 passage of this transparency law, which prohibits gag orders that prevent pharmacists from sharing prescription drug prices with customers.


9. Trump signed the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (FOSTA), which includes the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” (SESTA) which both give law enforcement and victims new tools to fight sex trafficking.

True. The bill was crafted and pushed through Congress by Representative Ann Wagner, a conservative Republican from Missouri, who thanked Ivanka Trump for advocating its passage.


10. Trump signed a bill to require airports to provide spaces for breastfeeding Moms.

True. Congress also deserves credit for the Friendly Airports for Mothers Act of 2017, which was championed by Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, and former Representative Stephen Knight, Republican of California.

[Actually, Stockman’s fact-checking is a little sloppy here; she got the year wrong. In that Congress (#115) of 2017, when the Republicans controlled both houses, the bill actually died, which means that some powerful Republican(s) decided to shelve it and to refuse to take action, for reasons I can’t really understand. I mean, breast feeding is by far the cheapest, most sanitary, and most nutritious way to feed an infant, and measures like these sound like an absolute no-brainer. Now, the version of the bill that passed, was re-introduced in the new 116th Congress (you have to start from “Go” all over again, at least in theory) that we are still in. Note that it was voted unanimously by the now-Democratic House, and confirmed unanimously by the Senate. How exactly does Trump take credit for this? Sheesh.]


11. The 25% lowest-paid Americans enjoyed a 4.5% income boost in November 2019, which outpaces a 2.9% gain in earnings for the country’s highest-paid workers.

Probably true. Before the pandemic struck, low-wage workers saw wage increases.


12. Low-wage workers are benefiting from higher minimum wages and from corporations that are increasing entry-level pay.

It is grossly misleading to claim this as a Trump accomplishment. Higher state and local minimum wages are results of state and local laws increasing the minimum wage, not federal law. Mr. Trump has flip-flopped on raising the federal minimum wage.


13. Trump signed the biggest wilderness protection & conservation bill in a decade and designated 375,000 acres as protected land.

This is misleading. While Mr. Trump did sign the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act of 2019, he has stripped protections from far more land than he has preserved. Most notably, he removed some two million acres in Utah that had been part of the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah. According to a study published in May 2019 in Science, Mr. Trump is responsible for the largest reduction in the boundaries of protected land in U.S. history.

14. Trump signed the Save our Seas Act which funds $10 million per year to clean tons of plastic & garbage from the ocean. 👀👀

True. The credit for the passage of this legislation goes to a bipartisan group in Congress, namely Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey.


15. He signed a bill this year allowing some drug imports from Canada so that prescription prices would go down.

President Trump has signed a series of executive orders aimed at making it easier for states to import cheaper drugs from Canada. But it is far from clear whether these executive orders will succeed in that aim. This proposal bears no resemblance to Mr. Trump’s 2016 promise to use the buying power of the federal government to negotiate lower prices for drugs for Medicare patients, which would save hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade. Mr. Trump has not kept that promise. If he were serious about doing so, he would push Republicans in the Senate to pass the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which Democrats passed last year. There’s no evidence that he has done so.


16. Trump signed an executive order this year that forces all health care providers to disclose the cost of their services so that Americans can comparison shop and know how much fewer providers charge insurance companies.

True. Hospitals are now required to publicize their prices, which was also required by a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act, signed by Mr. Obama. But enforcement has been spotty, and there has been little effort to hold hospitals to uniform standards, so it is still difficult if not impossible for consumers to compare costs, according to the journalism project Clear Health Costs.


17. When signing that bill he said no American should be blindsided by bills for medical services they never agreed to in advance.

Mr. Trump did say this. Unfortunately, people are still getting blindsided by medical bills.


18. Hospitals will now be required to post their standard charges for services, which include the discounted price a hospital is willing to accept.

See No. 16.


19. In the eight years prior to President Trump’s inauguration, prescription drug prices increased by an average of 3.6% per year. Under Trump, drug prices have seen year-over-year declines in nine of the last ten months, with a 1.1% drop as of the most recent month.

The data is mixed on whether drug prices are going up or down.


20. He created a White House VA Hotline to help veterans and principally staffed it with veterans and direct family members of veterans. 👀👀

True. Mr. Trump fulfilled this campaign promise by creating a West Virginia-based call center. It has limited powers to solve the problems of the veterans who call in from around the country.

21. VA employees are being held accountable for poor performance, with more than 4,000 VA employees removed, demoted, and suspended so far.

Many Department of Veterans Affairs employees have been demoted, removed or suspended during the Trump era, although there have been allegations that some of them were being punished for their political affiliations, not poor performance.


22. Issued an executive order requiring the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to submit a joint plan to provide veterans access to access to mental health treatment as they transition to civilian life.

True.


23. Because of a bill signed and championed by Trump, In 2020, most federal employees will see their pay increase by an average of 3.1% — the largest raise in more than 10 years.

This is grossly misleading, at best. Far from being a champion of pay raises for federal workers, Mr. Trump proposed pay freezes for federal employees three years in a row; he was overridden by Congress. For 2020, Mr. Trump initially proposed a pay freeze, but then changed his proposal to a 2.6 percent increase. Congress raised that further, to 3.1 percent. Mr. Trump signed that pay raise into law when he put his signature on an omnibus budget bill, according to Jacqueline Simon, policy director of the American Federation of Government Employees.


24. Trump signed into law up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for millions of federal workers.

True. Tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act was a provision that gave all federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave for the first time in history.


25. Trump administration will provide H.I.V. prevention drugs for free to 200,000 uninsured patients per year for 11 years.

True. The drugs are being donated by Gilead, a drug-development company. But the cost of patient visits and testing are not covered, and the Trump administration opposes expanding Medicare in the Southern states where H.I.V. infection rates are rising.


26. All-time record sales during the 2019 holidays.

Unclear what data this item is referring to.


27. Trump signed an order allowing small businesses to group together when buying insurance to get a better price

True, but a federal judge struck down the plan.

28. President Trump signed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act that provides funding for states to develop maternal mortality reviews to better understand maternal complications and identify solutions & largely focuses on reducing the higher mortality rates for Black Americans.

True. Congress passed this act with broad bipartisan support, including 190 co-sponsors in the House.


29. In 2018, President Trump signed the groundbreaking First Step Act, a criminal justice bill that enacted reforms that make our justice system fairer and help former inmates successfully return to society.

True. The Trump administration championed these reforms. Credit also goes to criminal justice reform advocates from across the political spectrum who pushed these changes for years.


30. The First Step Act’s reforms addressed inequities in sentencing laws that disproportionately harmed Black Americans and reformed mandatory minimums that created unfair outcomes. 👀👀

True.


31. The First Step Act expanded judicial discretion in the sentencing of nonviolent crimes.

True.


32. Over 90% of those benefiting from the retroactive sentencing reductions in the First Step Act are Black Americans.

True.


33. The First Step Act provides rehabilitative programs to inmates, helping them successfully rejoin society and not return to crime.

It is true that the First Step Act calls for the Bureau of Prisons to significantly expand these opportunities, but because of a lack of funding, around 25 percent of people who spend more than a year in federal prison have not completed any program, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which backed the bill.


34. Trump increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by more than 14%.

Krystal L. Williams, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama College of Education who has studied federal funding of H.B.C.U.s, points to publicly available data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System on this matter. The data suggest an increase of about 6 percent in federal appropriations, grants and contracts from the 2016-2017 academic year to 2017-2018, the most recent year for which such data is available.

35. Trump signed legislation forgiving Hurricane Katrina debt that threatened HBCUs.

True.


36. New single-family home sales are up 31.6% in October 2019 compared to just one year ago.

This appears to have been true at the time.


37. Made HBCUs a priority by creating the position of executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs.

True. This previously existing position was moved from the Department of Education to the White House. Experts disagree about its impact.


38. Trump received the Bipartisan Justice Award at a historically black college for his criminal justice reform accomplishments.

True. Students protested.


39. The poverty rate fell to a 17-year low of 11.8% under the Trump administration as a result of a jobs-rich environment. 👀👀

This appears to have been true, according to census data, although economists disagree on the reason for the drop.


40. Poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans have reached their lowest levels since the U.S. began collecting such data.

This was true before the coronavirus pandemic struck.


41. President Trump signed a bill that creates five national monuments, expands several national parks, adds 1.3 million acres of wilderness, and permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water, Conservation Fund.

See No. 13.

42. Trump’s U.S.D.A. committed $124 Million to rebuild rural water infrastructure.

This is true, though in 2016 Mr. Trump pledged to spend more than $800 billion on infrastructure.


43. Consumer confidence & small business confidence is at an all-time high.

False. The all-time high for the Consumer Confidence Index is 144.7, which was reached in January and May of 2000, according to Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators and surveys at the Conference Board, which puts out the index.


44. More than 7 million jobs created since the election.

In January of 2020, there were about 152 million nonfarm jobs in the country — about seven million more than existed in January of 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the number of jobs has been growing since 2010. In fact, the country gained more jobs — about eight million — between 2014 and 2017, the last years of the Obama administration. And since the pandemic began, between 10 million and 20 million jobs have been lost.


45. More Americans are now employed than ever recorded before in our history.

Given that there are more Americans alive now than ever in history, this would not be surprising. Regardless, it’s no longer true, because of the pandemic.


46. More than 400,000 manufacturing jobs created since his election.

It was true, but since the pandemic, the Trump administration has seen a net loss of about 200,000 manufacturing jobs, wiping out the past six years of growth, according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing. More than 900,000 manufacturing jobs were added between 2010 and 2016 during the Obama administration.


47. Trump appointed 5 openly gay ambassadors.

True.


48. Trump ordered Ric Grenell, his openly gay ambassador to Germany, to lead a global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe.

Richard Grenell is leading an effort to decriminalize homosexuality around the globe. Mr. Grenell has said that Mr. Trump supports this effort, though its existence appeared to take Mr. Trump by surprise.

49. Through Trump’s Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) initiative, Federal law enforcement more than doubled convictions of human traffickers and increased the number of defendants charged by 75% in ACTeam districts.

Convictions of human traffickers have not doubled. The number of convictions rose from 439 during Mr. Obama’s last year in office to 499 during Mr. Trump’s first year. In 2018, they rose again to 526 but then dropped back down again, to 475 in 2019.


50. In 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismantled an organization that was the internet’s leading source of prostitution-related advertisements resulting in sex trafficking.

True. But the sting against Backpage was years in the making. Authorities have had the website in their cross hairs since at least 2016.


51. Trump’s OMB published new anti-trafficking guidance for government procurement officials to more effectively combat human trafficking.

This is true. But the anti-trafficking community gives the Trump administration low marks because the administration’s harsh treatment of undocumented immigrants has caused victims of human trafficking to fear turning to authorities for help. The administration has made it harder for victims to obtain the special T visas they used to get when they turned to authorities for help and provided information about their abusers.


52. Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations arrested 1,588 criminals associated with Human Trafficking.

See No. 51.


53. Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services provided funding to support the National Human Trafficking Hotline to identify perpetrators and give victims the help they need.

True. The hotline, which was founded in 2002, was also supported by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.


54. The hotline identified 16,862 potential human trafficking cases.

See No. 51.


55. Trump’s DOJ provided grants to organizations that support human trafficking victims — serving nearly 9,000 cases from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018.

See No. 51.


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56. The Department of Homeland Security has hired more victim assistance specialists, helping victims get resources and support.

See No. 51.


57. President Trump has called on Congress to pass school choice legislation so that no child is trapped in a failing school because of his or her ZIP code.

Calling on Congress to do something is not really an accomplishment.


58. The President signed funding legislation in September 2018 that increased funding for school choice by $42 million.

Mr. Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on eliminating or drastically reducing the size of the Department of Education, tried to slash federal funding for public schools and dramatically increase funding for school choice and voucher programs. Congress overrode him. The $42 million is a small amount compared to the $400 million his administration initially proposed to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools.


59. The tax cuts signed into law by President Trump promote school choice by allowing families to use 529 college savings plans for elementary and secondary education.

True. This is a tax break for those who send their children to private schools. Only a fraction of American families have these savings plans.


60. Under his leadership, ISIS has lost most of its territory and been largely dismantled.

American-led strikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq began in 2014, predating the Trump administration. In 2018, Mr. Trump claimed in a tweet that ISIS had been defeated and ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops within 30 days. He eventually gave military leaders more time after their objections. By 2019, the Islamic State had lost nearly all of its territory, but the group remains a threat.


61. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is said to have detonated a suicide vest during a 2019 raid by United States Special Operations forces.


62. Signed the first Perkins C.T.E. reauthorization since 2006, authorizing more than $1 billion for states each year to fund vocational and career education programs.

True.

63. Executive order expanding apprenticeship opportunities for students and workers.

True. Attempts to expand and modernize apprenticeships, a goal shared by Democrats, are widely seen as a bipartisan bright spot in the Trump administration.


64. Trump issued an Executive Order prohibiting the U.S. government from discriminating against Christians or punishing expressions of faith.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order that called for the vigorous enforcement of federal laws protecting religious freedom. Christians were not singled out.


65. Signed an executive order that allows the government to withhold money from college campuses deemed to be anti-Semitic and who fail to combat anti-Semitism.

True, though the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern that the order could be used to punish constitutionally protected criticism of Israel or the Israeli government. [Let me add that almost any criticism of the policies of the Israeli state seems to be called ‘anti-semitic’. Gfb]


66. President Trump ordered a halt to U.S. tax money going to international organizations that fund or perform abortions.

True. Every Republican president has adopted a version of this policy since Ronald Reagan.


67. Trump imposed sanctions on the socialists in Venezuela who have killed their citizens.

True. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on Venezuela for more than a decade. Additional sanctions imposed by the Trump administration have increased economic pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro, who remains in power.


68. Finalized new trade agreement with South Korea.

Mr. Trump signed a revised version of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which had been in place since 2012. In 2017, Mr. Trump threatened to terminate the deal, which he said “should’ve never been made.” But the new version is considered similar to the old version, with a few tweaks.


69. Made a deal with the European Union to increase U.S. energy exports to Europe.

True.


70. Withdrew the U.S. from the job-killing TPP deal.

Mr. Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major change in U.S. trade policy. Experts disagree about the impact of the withdrawal on Americans jobs.


71. Secured $250 billion in new trade and investment deals in China and $12 billion in Vietnam.

This is true. China agreed to increase agricultural purchases by $12.5 billion in 2020 and $19.5 billion in 2021, compared with 2017 levels, but China is under no obligation beyond 2021.


72. O.K.’d up to $12 billion in aid for farmers affected by unfair trade retaliation.

The Trump administration announced a total of $28 billion in aid for farmers in 2018 and 2019, and another $23.5 billion through the coronavirus stimulus package passed in March.


73. Has had over a dozen U.S. hostages freed, including those Obama could not get freed.

This is true. Mr. Obama amended a longstanding U.S. policy not to negotiate with hostage-takers, making it more flexible. Mr. Trump continued to push the envelope on what could be done to release hostages, earning praise from those who view his efforts as a major foreign policy success and criticism from others who accuse Mr. Trump of authorizing the payment of de facto ransoms, incentivizing terrorists to take more American hostages.


74. Trump signed the Music Modernization Act, the biggest change to copyright law in decades.

True.


75. Trump secured Billions that will fund the building of a wall at our southern border.

Mr. Trump promised in 2016 that Mexico would pay for the wall. What happened?


76. The Trump Administration is promoting second-chance hiring to give former inmates the opportunity to live crime-free lives and find meaningful employment.

See No. 77.


77. Trump’s DOJ and the Board Of Prisons launched a new “Ready to Work Initiative” to help connect employers directly with former prisoners.

This is true, though it is unclear how many people have been able to participate in it.


78. President Trump’s historic tax cut legislation included new Opportunity Zone Incentives to promote investment in low-income communities across the country.

True. Experts disagree about whether these zones will benefit low-income communities, or just wealthy developers.


79. 8,764 communities across the country have been designated as Opportunity Zones.

True. See No. 78.


80. Opportunity Zones are expected to spur $100 billion in long-term private capital investment in economically distressed communities across the country.

See No. 78.


81. Trump directed the Education Secretary to end Common Core.

Mr. Trump promised in 2016 to end Common Core, but according to PolitiFact, 37 states still use some version of it.


82. Trump signed the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund into law.

True. Members of both political parties in Congress deserve much of the credit.


83. Trump signed measure funding prevention programs for Veteran suicide.

True. And congressional supporters of these programs say the White House has been supportive.


84. Companies have brought back over a TRILLION dollars from overseas because of the TCJA bill that Trump signed.

True. TCJA refers to the president’s 2017 overhaul of federal tax law.


85. Manufacturing jobs are growing at the fastest rate in more than 30 years.

According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the rate of growth of manufacturing jobs in 2018 was impressive, but similar rates were achieved in 1994, 1997, 2011 and 2014.


86. Stock Market has reached record highs.

The highest closing record of the Dow Jones industrial average, the index of 30 top U.S. companies, was reached in February, after investors appeared to be encouraged that the trade wars initiated by Mr. Trump were being resolved. Recent interest-rate cuts in 2019 also contributed. This March, the Dow fell a record 2,013.76 points to 23,851.02, after it became clear that the U.S. economy would lock down because of the pandemic. That drop was followed by two more record-setting point drops.


87. Median household income has hit the highest level ever recorded.

This is true.


88. African-American unemployment is at an all-time low.

See No. 40.


89. Hispanic-American unemployment is at an all-time low.

See No. 40.


90. Asian-American unemployment is at an all-time low.

This was true before the coronavirus struck.

91. Women’s unemployment rate is at a 65-year low.

This was true before the coronavirus struck.


92. Youth unemployment is at a 50-year low.

This appears to have been true, before the coronavirus struck. But the labor force participation rate for young Americans is not as high as it was in 1989.


93. We have the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded.

This is false. Unemployment rates were lower in the 1950s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


94. The Pledge to America’s Workers has resulted in employers committing to train more than 4 million Americans.

In 2018, President Trump launched the Pledge to America’s Workers, aimed at boosting the private sector’s role in training American workers. Companies signed on, to much fanfare. But there is evidence that resources for training are actually going down.


95. 95 percent of U.S. manufacturers are optimistic about the future — the highest ever.

This was true in 2018, but since the pandemic that number has dropped to 34 percent.


96. As a result of the Republican tax bill, small businesses will have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years.

Not really. According to the Tax Foundation, the lowest top marginal rate in the past 80 years was 28 percent in the 1980s, although a “claw back” provision in the 1980s increased the top marginal rate to 33 percent for taxpayers with incomes over certain thresholds. Under current law, the top marginal rate is 37 percent, but pass-through businesses can receive additional tax breaks to lower their top marginal rate to 29.6 percent.


97. Record number of regulations eliminated that hurt small businesses.

This appears to be true. Mr. Trump has made reducing regulations a signature part of his legacy. He signed an executive order directing all agencies to repeal at least two existing regulations for each new regulation issued in the 2017 fiscal year and thereafter. A list of regulations that have been removed is being compiled by the Brookings Deregulation Tracker.


98. Signed welfare reform requiring able-bodied adults who don’t have children to work or look for work if they’re on welfare. 🙌🙌

The Trump administration released guidance in January 2018 that lets states take away Medicaid coverage from people who aren’t working or engaged in work-related activities. Tens of thousands of people have been affected. For instance, in Arkansas over 18,000 Medicaid beneficiaries lost coverage in 2018, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


99. Under Trump, the FDA approved more affordable generic drugs than ever before in history.

True. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, was praised for his efforts to streamline the process of drug approval before he left the administration.


100. Reformed Medicare program to stop hospitals from overcharging low-income seniors on their drugs — saving seniors 100’s of millions of $$$ this year alone. 👀👀

It’s true that the Trump administration changed the rules for how Medicare pays for prescription drugs through the 340B program, lowering the rate that hospitals are reimbursed for drugs, which in some cases lowers co-payments for seniors, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. It is not clear how much seniors have saved through this change.


101. Signed Right-To-Try legislation allowing terminally ill patients to try an experimental treatment that wasn’t allowed before.

TrueSome argue that a similar program that existed previously under the Food and Drug Administration was less risky.


102. Secured $6 billion in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, $9 billion in new grant funding was awarded to states and local communities to help increase access to treatment and prevention services during the first three years of the Trump administration.


103. Signed VA Choice Act and VA Accountability Act, expanded V.A. telehealth services, walk-in-clinics, and same-day urgent primary and mental health care.

Mr. Trump has signed a number of bipartisan bills that call for improvements to medical care for veterans, including more access to walk-in clinics.


104. U.S. oil production recently reached an all-time high so we are less dependent on oil from the Middle East.

True. (Duplicate of No. 7.)


105. The U.S. is a net natural gas exporter for the first time since 1957.

True. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States began ramping up its exports of liquefied natural gas in 2016, and became a net exporter of natural gas during the Trump administration.


106. NATO allies increased their defense spending because of his pressure campaign.

True. Although NATO countries were already modestly increasing their military spending before Mr. Trump took office, there is evidence that his public complaints led to a deal that allowed the United States to decrease its own spending, while some other countries increased their share each year that he has been in office.


107. Withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord in 2017 and that same year the U.S. still led the world by having the largest reduction in carbon emissions.

It is true that Mr. Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Experts disagree on whether the accord would have created American jobs or destroyed them.


108. Has his circuit court judge nominees being confirmed faster than any other new administration.

It is not clear how to measure this across every U.S. administration, but it is an ironic thing to highlight, given that Republicans systematically blocked Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees.


109. Had his Supreme Court Justice’s Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh confirmed.

True.


110. Moved U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

True.


111. Agreed to a new trade deal with Mexico & Canada that will increase jobs here and $$$ coming in.

The Trump administration updated the North American Free Trade Agreement, fulfilling a campaign promise.


112. Reached a breakthrough agreement with the E.U. to increase U.S. exports.

True. The agreement aims to resolve a longstanding dispute about a European Union ban on hormone-fed U.S. beef. But tensions over Mr. Trump’s 25 percent tariffs on some European goods remain.


113. Imposed tariffs on China in response to China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and their chronically abusive trade practices, has agreed to a Part One trade deal with China.

True, though China has reportedly pulled back from its commitments in that deal amid the pandemic.


114. Signed legislation to improve the National Suicide Hotline.

See No. 83.


115. Signed the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever into law, which will advance childhood cancer research and improve treatments.

The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research Act has been called the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill taken up by Congress. It was championed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and passed unanimously in 2018.


116. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law by Trump doubled the maximum amount of the child tax credit available to parents and lifted the income limits so more people could claim it.

True. According to the Tax Foundation, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act doubled the maximum child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, while the phaseout threshold was increased from $75,000 to $200,000 for single filers and $110,000 to $400,000 for married couples filing jointly.


117. It also created a new tax credit for other dependents.

True. There is now a nonrefundable $500 credit for certain dependents who do not meet the child tax credit eligibility guidelines.


118. In 2018, President Trump signed into law a $2.4 billion funding increase for the Child Care and Development Fund, providing a total of $8.1 billion to states to fund child care for low-income families.

It is true that Mr. Trump signed this bill. Congress should also get the credit for passing it.

119. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) signed into law by Trump provides a tax credit equal to 20-35% of child care expenses, $3,000 per child & $6,000 per family + Flexible Spending Accounts (F.S.A.s) allow you to set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax $ to use for child care.

According to the Tax Foundation, this is an accurate description of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, but it’s important to note that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not directly change the rules for the credit. Those rules existed before the Trump administration. So did the $5,000 dependent care Flexible Spending Accounts.



120. In 2019 President Donald Trump signed the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act (CARES) into law, which allocates $1.8 billion in funding over the next five years to help people with autism spectrum disorder and to help their families.
👀👀

It is true that Mr. Trump signed this bill into law. Congress deserves the credit for passing this legislation, which received such broad support that 173 House members and 41 senators were co-sponsors.



121. In 2019 President Trump signed into law two funding packages providing nearly $19 million in new funding for Lupus specific research and education programs, as well an additional $41.7 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the most Lupus funding EVER.

True. The measure was championed by the bipartisan Congressional Lupus Caucus.



122. Another upcoming accomplishment to add: In the next week or two Trump will be signing the first major anti-robocall law in decades called the TRACED Act (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence.) Once it’s the law, the TRACED Act will extend the period of time the FCC has to catch & punish those who intentionally break telemarketing restrictions. The bill also requires voice service providers to develop a framework to verify calls are legitimate before they reach your phone.

True. Congress gets credit for passing this law with bipartisan support. Even under the TRACED Act, the power of the F.C.C. to punish robocallers is limited.


See No. 86.

123. US stock market continually hits all-time record highs.

Who is responsible for most carbon emissions?

An article in Nature* profiles a meticulous researcher who has shown that a small handful of companies were responsible for the vast majority of all carbon emissions, and that well over half of those emissions happened since my own children were in elementary school. Scary.

“The result, peer reviewed and published in Climatic Change, showed that just 90 companies contributed 63% of the greenhouse gases emitted globally between 1751 and 2010. Half of those emissions took place after 1988—the year James Hansen of NASA testified to Congress that there was no longer any doubt that global warming had begun.”

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(* Nature is the magazine of the AAAS (formerly known as the American Association for the Advancement of Science). Most of its articles are quite dry and technical descriptions of rigorous scientific experiments in every field that currently exists. It is not a propaganda sheet!)

 

From Mark Naison – Parent Strike!

 This is from Mark Naison, an author and professor at Fordham in NYC — gfb
Mark Naison
July 23 at 4:51pm
What Our Children and Grandchildren Deserve: No Compromise With Current Education Policies

Every post I get from around the country suggests that the attack on teachers, students and public education shows no sign of letting up. Students are being tested more than ever; great teachers are being given low ratings and driven out of the profession; and whole cities are being turned into all charter districts without evidence that this will do anything to empower students, while at the same time funneling profits to consulting firms and real estate developers. While the worst of the attacks are hitting high poverty schools, no districts are immune from the scripting, the micromanagement and the obsession with test results. This nightmare is occurring in states with Republican governors and states with Democratic governors.

Anyone who thinks that the new ECAA legislation being passed by Congress is going to bring relief is being extremely naive. Those who think than any Presidential candidate will make things better is living in Never Never Land. The momentum of current policies on the state and local level is powerful because it is driven by Billionaire dollars. The same people who are controlling the political process in DC are driving privatization and profiteering in public education at the local level.

The only way to fight back against this is civil disobedience. Parent strikes, Student strikes. Teachers strikes. Test Refusal. And innovative tactics to bring the pressure on those who would destroy students lives and teachers careers. Disrupt meetings. Picket peoples houses. Make those who would make students and families pay the price pay a price themselves.

This is why I am very excited about the formation of the group ParentStrike. And the refusal of United Opt Out to compromise at all with ANY federal legislation that uses standardized testing as the basis of school evaluation and uses federal funds to punish schools, school districts and entire states on the basis of test scores.

Now is not the time to compromise. We are already losing badly. It is the time to disrupt. To confuse. To undermine, To resist

Our children and grandchildren deserve better. Much better.

As I Said . . . (TPP)

This is from Steve Ruis on the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP and how it got through Congress so far, even though its contents are secret …

As I Said . . . (TPP).

Published in: on July 6, 2015 at 10:18 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , ,

“Math for America” teachers meet with some members Congress and apparently give them some sound advice

During the First National Math Festival here in DC (which I missed), back in April, some Math for America – DC* teachers I know were invited to speak with some Congressmen and Senators. According to the press release I was recently given, my colleagues appear to have given the elected reps** sound advice that may or may not be heeded.

{** including Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Chuck Shumer, Al Franken, Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray, Steny Hoyer, among others}

I quote from the press release, in green and my own comments in black:

“House and Senate leaders, field experts, and MfA DC teachers spent the first hour and a half engaging in dialogue on how the ESEA reauthorization would affect the classroom. Joe Herbert spoke to the adverse effects standardized tests had had on his school and his classroom. David Tansey, a[n] MfA DC Master Teacher, offered criteria that such tests should meet in order to provide instructional value to the teacher and the student.”

{notice the clear implication, which Tansey has spelled out to me in detail on several occasions, that the standardized tests that he and his school are required to administer many, many times a year are of absolutely no use to teachers in figuring out how to help their students learn more stuff, better.}

“Joe Herbert wrote, ‘I spoke of the harmful effects of standardized testing on K-12 education, and of the complete lack of statistical basis for evaluating teachers based on their students’ test scores.'”

While Max Mikulec, one of the other teachers, was initially somewhat awestruck by listening to amusing anecdotes from Senator Al Franken, he …

“…went on to say, ‘As I reflected on the day, my initial reaction of pride and hope turned into a feeling of skepticism and apprehension. You cannot imagine how great I would feel if the nation spent billions more dollars developing math education and math teachers. However, I do not see this happening in an effective way. There are endless debates over what standards should be taught in our schools and what the kids should be tested on. Amid all of the debates, the ones who are losing here are the nation’s kids. In their most formative years, a time where they struggle to find any consistency in their own lives, they are being let down by an educational system that will change several times before they graduate high school. Ev en though all of these powerful and important people say that they support math education and that [they] see math teaching as a real profession, I will not believe them until something is actually done to show their support.'”

In addition, Joe Herbert wrote me the following:

“Another point I made is just how much money gets wasted on these tests. I don’t remember the exact number now, but I looked up how much is spent annually on testing before I went to the event (I remember the number was in the billions), and I made the point that we could increase spending on education by that much money without raising taxes a penny if we got rid of the annual testing mandate in NCLB.

“I know that many liberal groups have been proponents of annual testing because it sheds light on the achievement gap. I noted that NAEP provides these same types of data, but does so using statistical sampling so that we don’t have to test every kid every year.”

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*Note: MfA and MfA-DC are as far from the TFA idea as it is possible to be. Unlike ‘Teach for Awhile”, MFA actually gives its members a FULL YEAR of math-content and math-pedagogy classes and student teaching experience, assigns them a mentor, and in return expects them to stay in the city, teaching, in their field for a full five years, and does not pretend to have a one-size-fits-all “no excuses” magic wand that will miraculously reproduce the irreproducible miracle that Michelle Rhree pretended to achieve at Harlem Park Elementary in Baltimore in the early 1990s, magically moving 90% of her students from below the 13th percentile to being over the 90th percentile. Right now, MfA DC teachers are some of the most senior math teachers anywhere in DC, either in the regular public schools or charter schools.

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