DeSantis blasts immigration laws once popular with Florida Republicans

“Gov. Ron DeSantis is using his sway over the Republican-dominated Legislature to urge lawmakers to repeal state laws that offered additional legal rights to undocumented immigrants, protections that less than a decade ago were popular with many Florida Republicans, including DeSantis’ own lieutenant governor.”

“Included in DeSantis’ proposal is the repeal of a 2014 law sponsored by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez when she was a member of the Florida House that offered out-of-state tuition vouchers to some eligible Dreamers, those brought to the United States illegally at a young age. It applied to Dreamers who attended a Florida high school for at least three years.”

“DeSantis’ proposal would also repeal a second law passed in 2014 with bipartisan support that allowed noncitizens to be admitted to the Florida Bar. The proposal was signed into law by Scott and got “yes” votes from Diaz, Nunez and Oliva. Simpson and Patronis, both of whom are seen as eyeing bids for governor in 2026, did not vote on the measure when legislators approved it on the House and Senate floors.
The law allows the Florida Supreme Court to admit noncitizens to the Florida Bar if they meet certain qualifications, including being brought to the United states as a minor and living in the country for a decade or longer. It was passed for José Manuel Godinez-Samperio, who came to the United States at age 9 with his mother and went on to graduate Florida State University College of Law with honors. He was in the House chamber when the bill passed and got direct shoutouts from Republican leadership at the time.”

“DeSantis is also pushing lawmakers to require all Florida employers to use the E-Verify system, a federal database that allows employers to check workers’ employment status. During DeSantis’ first term, he pushed for universal E-Verify but that was opposed by the state’s business lobby. The bill lawmakers approved only required public employers to use the system.”

“DeSantis’ immigration package also includes:

Making it a third-degree felony to “transport, conceal, or harbor illegal aliens,” and a second-degree felony if the person being transported is a minor.
Mandating that hospitals collect data on the immigration status of patients and submit reports on costs associated with providing care to undocumented immigrants.
Requiring people registering to vote check a box affirming they are U.S. citizens and Florida residents.
Prohibiting local governments from issuing ID cards to unauthorized aliens and invalidating out-of-state licenses issued to unauthorized aliens.”

The radical proposal to let Medicare and Social Security lapse, explained

“Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s plan to “rescue America””

“Scott’s proposal would radically overhaul how the federal government operates, forcing Congress to re-pass every federal law or else let them lapse — a move that, in Democrats’ telling, would endanger much of what the government does, including beloved federal programs like Medicare and Social Security.
It’s a short proposal, with little detail to flesh it out. But on its face, its meaning is plain: Every five years, every federal law would need to be passed anew in order to stay on the books.”

““Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset,” Biden said in his State of the Union address. “It is being proposed by individuals. I’m politely not naming them, but it’s being proposed by some of you.”

It was a new twist on a familiar trope: Republican proposes cutting government benefits, Democrat attacks him for it. And it seems to have left a mark: After more than a week of uproar since the State of the Union, Scott formally revised his 12-point “rescue America” plan to specify that its provision requiring every federal law to be re-passed every five years would not, in fact, apply to Social Security and Medicare. And so, at least officially, the senator has papered over the main political weakness of his plan.”

FairTax, the GOP plan for a 30 percent national sales tax, explained

“The FairTax, at its heart, is simple enough: It would take almost every federal tax and replace them with a fat 30 percent sales tax on everything. Virtually every American would get a monthly check from the government to cover the cost of paying the tax on essentials. It’s a radical idea, but one which since its first introduction to Congress in 1999 has been a favorite of conservative Republicans. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) already has 23 co-sponsors for the current iteration. Prominent party figures like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain have all championed the idea over the years.
Not surprisingly, liberal groups who judge the proposal regressive are against it. But so are many enthusiastic conservative tax-cutters, like the Wall Street Journal editorial board and Grover Norquist. Here’s what National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru had to say about it:

“Any House Republican who backs this bill can accurately be accused of voting for … raising the price of everything by a huge amount at a time when inflation is already high; shifting more of the tax burden to the middle class; instituting a large new wealth tax on senior citizens; increasing federal spending by a massive amount; increasing the deficit; and creating large black markets.””

“he FairTax gets rid of the personal and corporate income taxes, and the estate tax, which are the three most progressive taxes in the federal code. For most poor people, the personal income tax already gives them money through provisions like the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit. Getting rid of it means all those benefits go away.

At the top end, the rich go from paying a top rate of 40.8 percent on their wages, as well as 23.8 percent on their income from investments, to just paying the 30 percent tax on everything they buy. But wealthy people save more of their income than non-wealthy people do, and everything they save would be tax-free. By one measure, rich people in the 2010s saved 8.5 percent of their income, while the bottom 90 percent had a negative savings rate, spending 2.8 percent more than they earned.

I know of no credible estimates of the distributional impact of the FairTax, if it were to replace income and payroll taxes, but when the Bush administration appointed a panel to study tax reform proposals, it concluded that using the tax to replace the income tax alone would sharply raise taxes on the middle class.”

“Assuming a reasonable amount of tax evasion (20 percent) — and the question of evasion is important, as you’ll see — he found that the FairTax would increase the deficit by about $10.6 trillion over 10 years. In order to avoid increasing the deficit 10 years later, the FairTax would have to be set at 64.4 percent.”

“I wouldn’t be so quick to reject sales taxes more broadly. There’s a reason every rich country except the US has a value-added tax: It’s a very efficient, easy-to-administer way to raise lots of money for progressive social programs like universal health care, child allowances, long-term care, and more.

Gale, the FairTax critic, is actually a vocal advocate for adopting a VAT in the US. I like his idea of pairing a 10 percent VAT with a small universal basic income to make sure low-income people come out ahead. He estimates the bottom 20 percent of earners would see their incomes rise by nearly 17 percent as a result, while households with income above $90,000 or so would pay more. If you use some of the revenue to pay for the now-expired expanded child tax credit, the net effect would likely be a substantial reduction in poverty.

You could also, as Columbia professor Michael Graetz and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) have proposed, use the VAT to exempt all but the wealthiest individuals from the income tax, by creating standard deductions of $50,000 or $100,000 for couples. This isn’t as progressive as using it for a UBI, but it would vastly simplify income tax collection and enable the large majority of Americans to not worry about filing taxes ever.”

Republicans Didn’t Get Less Popular After All That Speaker Drama — They Were Already Unpopular

“Two polls found that a plurality of Americans thought that the drama surrounding the speaker election hurt the GOP. According to a HarrisX/Deseret News poll conducted right after McCarthy’s election, 41 percent of registered voters felt that the Republican Party was weaker after the speaker election, and only 23 percent thought it was stronger. In addition, 43 percent of registered voters told HarrisX/the Deseret News that the ordeal made them trust the Republican Party less. Meanwhile, 34 percent of respondents told Ipsos that the drama weakened the Republican Party, and only 19 percent said it strengthened the party.
In reality, these poll questions don’t tell us that much. We’ve written previously about the dangers of pollsters asking whether a given event makes people more or less likely to vote for a candidate or party. Asking whether the speaker election made people trust the GOP less falls into the same trap. The question allows people to express dissatisfaction with the election without considering where their feelings started on the issue. (For example, quite a few of those people — i.e., Democrats — probably had little or no trust for the GOP to begin with.)

And asking Americans to be pundits and assess whether the GOP is weaker in the wake of the speaker vote is less informative than just looking at the GOP’s actual standing. Several polls have shown that the Republican Party’s brand hasn’t changed since the disharmony. It was damaged before the speaker vote, and it’s still damaged after it”

Republican response to Biden State of the Union speech speeds decline of civility in politics

“The response from many Republican lawmakers to President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday marked a new low for civility in politics in the United States.
Interrupted multiple times by jeering, boos and accusations of lying by GOP members, Biden gamely endured the taunts, at times seeming to revel in the prospect of egging on his political opponents, calling them out over threats to refuse to raise the debt ceiling and other contentious issues.

That led to an outburst by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who called the president “a liar.”

Moments later, when Biden was discussing overdose deaths caused by fentanyl, another Republican House member shouted, “It’s your fault!”

State of the Union addresses, which are mandated by the Constitution, have, for most of the nation’s history, been rather staid affairs. The president reports on the progress being made, outlines policy priorities for the year ahead, while the members of the opposing party or parties choose either to applaud unenthusiastically or sit on their hands in protest. Debate over the substance of the speeches had, until recently, been reserved for after they were finished.”

The GOP Split on Ukraine Aid Isn’t Really About Ukraine

“it’s worth noting what the anti-Ukraine aid crowd in Congress generally doesn’t support: ending U.S. weapons transfers and military funding to other countries.
Hawley, for example, has connected his opposition to Ukraine aid to his enthusiasm for Taiwan aid. Earlier this year, he introduced legislation to fast-track U.S. arms sales to Taipei. He’s also repeatedly voted against resolutions stopping weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, and he likewise voted against ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen’s civil war.

Similarly, Vance has suggested that until semiconductor production is ramped up domestically, the U.S. would need to defend Taiwan against Chinese attack. Gaetz has a more mixed record—he’s willing to cut off U.S. backing for Saudi Arabia in Yemen—but he’s uniquely targeted Ukraine aid for slashing. Cutting aid to Israel is certainly off the table. Indeed, none of the representatives I’ve named here voted against $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome last year, and Hawley and Vance are as effusive in their pledges of support for Israel as congressional Republicans tend to be.

The fuller picture, then, doesn’t show a GOP pivot to America as “well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all” but “champion and vindicator only of her own.” A better explanation is simple partisan reaction: Many Democrats believe Trump is in bed with Moscow and made investigating his alleged ties to the Kremlin a major theme of his four years in office. That has translated to a broader Democratic focus on Russia as the primary threat to the United States and, by extension, on Ukraine as a pseudo-ally particularly deserving of our support.

In response, some Republicans have—well, not quite embraced Russia, but certainly deemphasized it as a security risk compared to what they likely would have said without the recent history of Russiagate. They’ve cast China as the primary threat instead and, by extension, made Taiwan the pseudo-ally deserving support. And insofar as backing Ukraine is a Democratic cause—insofar as Ukrainian flags flutter over “In this house we believe” signs, as they reliably do in my neighborhood—GOP opposition to Ukraine aid naturally follows, despite the obvious sympathy of the Ukrainian cause.”

2 Years After the Capitol Riot, the GOP Remains Divided. Good.

“For a brief moment following the January 6 Capitol riot, it looked like most Republican lawmakers and pundits would condemn Trump’s lies and the riot they spawned. But a funny thing happened on the way to what should have been a reckoning: A whole lot of conservatives decided to back Trump’s narrative about a stolen election. Meanwhile, those who vocally opposed it found themselves on the wrong side of the ongoing inter-GOP war, one in which more moderate or conventional conservatives were demonized by Trump and his populist lackeys and Republican rising stars fought to position themselves as “the craziest son of a bitch in the race” (to quote Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie on what he realized voters swinging from libertarian-leaning candidates to Trump were looking for).

Flash forward two years, and whack job populism has suffered a smidge of comeuppance. The 2022 midterm elections weren’t kind to Trump-backed candidates and election deniers, and—Trump’s 2024 candidacy notwithstanding—it looks like the fever dream that culminated in the events of January 6, 2021, has started to break.”

Don’t Let the House Hunter Biden Investigation Become a Russiagate-Style Search for Election Excuses

“Republicans have long insisted that not only did Hunter use his father’s name to secure foreign business deals for himself but that Joe Biden was in on the game. There is evidence for the former, and not for the latter. Regardless, the first people lawmakers might want to question are those intimately involved with Hunter Biden’s business dealings, right?
Apparently not. First up, per a Politico report, are three former Twitter employees.

Comer has invited former Twitter Deputy General Counsel James Baker, former Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, and former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde to the hearing to testify about Twitter’s decision to temporarily block a New York Post story about Hunter Biden in 2020.

That decision was recently dissected at length in the Twitter Files, a series of reports based on internal documents that Twitter CEO Elon Musk has shared with a small group of journalists. The documents reveal Twitter executives engaged in ample deliberation and debate about how to handle the story, primed by warnings from the (Trump-era) Justice Department about the possibility of fake news being spread by foreign adversaries.

It’s pretty clear that Twitter’s decision to suppress the story—ultimately a wrong decision, albeit also a very short-lived one—was very much a product of people trying to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016. Authorities were on high alert—perhaps to the point of paranoia—about foreign propaganda that might influence the 2020 electorate. And tech companies, having just lived through years of being excoriated for letting foreign propaganda spread in 2016, were extra sensitive to allegations that they might let it happen again.

But Republicans seem to desperately want there to be more to this story. For it to serve as a smoking gun against Joe Biden, tech companies, or both. For it to be a tidy explanation as to why Biden won in 2020.”

“Twitter made the wrong call with the story, yes. But it did so temporarily, with much deliberation, influenced by authorities in the Trump administration, and to the effect that the Hunter Biden story got even more attention. The idea that Joe Biden would have lost the election had this not happened is crazy. And the idea that Biden himself helped cover it up because he’s hiding something about his own business dealings lacks any evidence.

But these narratives are also very beneficial to Biden’s enemies. And Republicans seem determined to wring every last bit of political capital possible out of them.

Once again we’re reminded that the people in power—no matter which side that is—are more focused on making excuses for their own shortcomings and slinging mud at the other side than actually doing the hard work of becoming a faction more Americans can get behind.”

FEC Finds Google Isn’t Deliberately Biased Against Republicans

“The FEC said it has now closed its file on the issue.
“The Commission’s bipartisan decision to dismiss this complaint reaffirms that Gmail does not filter emails for political purposes,” Google spokesman José Castañeda said. “We’ll continue to invest in our Gmail industry-leading spam filters because, as the FEC notes, they’re important to protecting people’s inboxes from receiving unwanted, unsolicited, or dangerous messages.””

House GOP tempts fall government shutdown with longshot spending demands

“In addition to Republicans’ pledge to slice $130 billion from the $1.7 trillion government funding package that passed in December, conservatives want to take the process old-school. Rather than passing one massive bill, they’re calling for individual votes on the dozen appropriations bills that set annual budgets for different agencies, a more time-consuming but transparent procedure that recent Congresses have struggled to complete.
They’re also planning to allow an amendment free-for-all, which is all but certain to further drag out or trip things up.

Additionally, House Republicans say they’ll refuse to negotiate with the Senate until the upper chamber passes its own spending bills, which hasn’t happened in years. Typically, Senate appropriators have instead entered into bipartisan talks with their House counterparts, only burning valuable floor time on a package they’re certain would pass both chambers.

And GOP demands expand beyond funding the government. Republicans say they won’t back a debt limit increase unless they get their way on spending cuts or measures to reign in the ever-increasing $31 trillion debt. The timing of that could be tricky, however, as the Treasury Department could hit its credit card limit this summer, while federal cash expires on Sept. 30.

A debt ceiling hike will arguably make for a much bigger battle in Congress, leaving even less time and patience for bipartisan talks on funding the government.”