Before you vote on the GOP tax plan, Congressman…

With the House of Representatives scheduled to vote today on the Republican tax plan, I’ve sent the following message to Congressman Goodlatte:

Dear Congressman Goodlatte:

All indications are that you will join the overwhelming majority of your Republican colleagues today in voting for the Republican tax plan– a plan tilted heavily in favor of wealthy people and large corporations that will add up to $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Before you vote, however, I hope you will take a few minutes to watch the following videos.

In the first, your House colleague Suzan DelBene’s questions to Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, revealed in specific detail how the plan favors corporate interests over those of teachers, firefighters, home buyers and relocating workers.

In the second, you can see a less-than-enthusiastic response from corporate CEOs to the idea of investing the windfall they would receive under the tax plan.

Appearing Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council conference in Washington, chief Trump administration economic advisor Gary Cohn watched with dismay when attendees were asked whether the reform bill would cause them to spend more on growth. Only a few responded.

“Why aren’t the other hands up?” Cohn asked, according to multiple press accounts.

Why indeed? And based on this response, are you– an outspoken advocate of balanced budgets– absolutely sure these tax breaks will produce the unprecedented increase in revenues required to fill the gap created by the Republican plan?

Update: Goodlatte joined 226 other Republicans and no Democrats to approve the tax plan.

Goodlatte and his committee question Jeff Sessions

Starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Goodlatte-chaired House Judiciary Committee is questioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions. You can watch live here.

Now that Goodlatte has announced he will not seek reelection in 2018, and thus  should be free of partisan constraints, and given Sessions’s less-than-forthcoming answers to previous queries about the Trump campaign’s contact with Russian officials, it will be interesting to see if he asks the attorney general any difficult questions about this.

Goodlatte won’t seek reelection

Perhaps the election trends I noted in my previous post did worry Congressman Goodlatte after all. For whatever reason, he announced today that he will not seek reelection in 2018.

There’s a lot to digest here. Goodlatte was due to step down as the powerful chair of the House Judiciary Committee at the end of his current term. And especially if the Democrats win a House majority in 2018 (which appears more likely than ever), he would have been relatively powerless.

Jenna Portnoy, who covers Virginia’s congressional delegation for The Washington Post, writes:

Had he chosen to seek reelection, Goodlatte could have had a tough fight for the GOP nomination.

Although he has a solid conservative voting record, Goodlatte’s quarter century of public service and status in the House leadership has made him a target of Republicans activists in his district.

Last year, his ally lost the leadership of the GOP committee in the congressional district to businessman Scott Sayre.

“[Goodlatte] has served us for a couple of decades now and there are many people who are happy with what he has done,” he said Thursday. “You can’t make everybody happy.”

Republicans expected to consider vying for the nomination for the seat, include state Del. Ben Cline, Goodlatte’s former chief of staff, and Cynthia Dunbar, a national committeewoman. In an interview Thursday, Sayre ruled out running himself.

Stay tuned.

Election trend should worry Goodlatte

Although Republican Ed Gillespie won about 60 percent of the vote in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District while losing decisively to Ralph Northam in Tuesday’s race for governor, Congressman Goodlatte should take a hard look at a map that appears in The New York Times:

trend map

It shows in blue the precincts where Northam won a higher percentage of the vote than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. Goodlatte would no doubt notice that this happened in the overwhelming majority of precincts in the Sixth District. Electoral trends are important, and this one ought to cause a shiver of concern for even so complacent a politician as Goodlatte.

“Deficit hawk” Goodlatte backs budget-busting tax plan

Congressman Goodlatte rarely misses an opportunity to proclaim his opposition to deficit spending or his support for a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

His record on these principles is another matter. So it comes as no surprise that Goodlatte has reacted favorably to the Republican tax plan which would add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years.

Republicans assure us that this tax plan– which overwhelmingly favors big corporations and the wealthiest Americans— would stimulate unprecedented economic growth and generate enough new tax revenue to fill the gap. But there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim– and plenty of evidence to the contrary. The massive 2001 tax cuts under President George W. Bush did little to boost the economy and instead contributed to the huge deficits during his administration.  A tax plan in Kansas similar to the current Republican plan was a failure that had to be scrapped.

Bruce Bartlett, an adviser to President Ronald Reagan, observed: “In reality, there’s no evidence that a tax cut now would spur growth.”

If Goodlatte nevertheless goes along with this plan, his hypocrisy will be exposed once again.

Goodlatte mum as Congress fails to act on children’s health insurance

While Congressman Goodlatte seems especially eager to inform his Sixth District constituents about his recent visit to a drug-smuggling tunnel and his inspection of border wall samples, he has been notably silent about an issue much closer to home– the imminent threat to the health insurance that covers 65,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women in Virginia.

The [Virginia] Department of Medical Assistance Services, or DMAS, has to be ready by the beginning of December so it can give families at least 60 days notice that their children will no longer be covered by the program when money runs out at the end of January.

“Congress is acting as if it’s just a matter of when the money runs out, and they’re not acknowledging the work and the investment that states have to make in trying to do this in the least chaotic way possible,” said Linda Nablo, DMAS’ chief deputy director.

Amidst wrangling over repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Congress didn’t meet a deadline to renew the program, often called CHIP, that has previously enjoyed bipartisan support.

Unless state lawmakers decide to pick up the multi-million-dollar tab, thousands in Virginia will lose coverage.

The result would look would like this: a child with asthma who loses health insurance will have nothing to prevent future asthmatic episodes and will almost certainly end up in the emergency room, said Dr. Richard Bennett, a pediatrician at the Bon Secours Richmond Community Hospital.

“The coverage that would have cost a few dollars to hundreds of dollars will now cost a family thousands to tens of thousands of dollars,” Bennett said.

With the health of nearly one-third of children in the Sixth District insured by CHIP and/or Medicaid, you’d think the impending crisis would be at the top of Goodlatte’s agenda. But perhaps his apparent lack of concern was foretold in 2009, when he voted in Congress against a law that extended CHIP coverage to four million children without health insurance.

Goodlatte finally finds something worth investigating

Since I started posting at Goodlatte Watch, I have noted the following:

— All Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote to committee chair Bob Goodlatte in November asking him to schedule hearings on the potential conflicts between Donald Trump’s business interests and his future position as president of the United States.

— All Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Goodlatte in May urging immediate hearings on President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey.

— All Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Goodlatte in June sharply questioning his reluctance to hold hearings on the Trump administration’s possible obstruction of justice, the firing of Comey and the actions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

— After President Trump answered “100 percent” to a question about whether he was willing to testify under oath about his conversations with Comey before he was fired, Congressman Luis Gutierrez in June called on Goodlatte to invite Trump to do just that.

— All Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Goodlatte in July to demand hearings after Trump in a New York Times interview attacked the credibility and fairness of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and after news emerged of a 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian government attorney.

— All Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Goodlatte in August asking for hearings on Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted for ignoring a federal judge’s orders to stop detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally.

— After a counter-protester was murdered by a white supremacist in Charlottesvile last August, even one of Goodlatte’s Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee wrote to him calling for a hearing on the dangers posed by white supremacist groups.

After ignoring all these requests– and not even having the courtesy to respond– Goodlatte has revealed what he considers far more important than any of the above: an investigation into the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

With this move, Goodlatte’s willingness– eagerness– to put party above country is on full and ugly display.

In his powerful speech announcing that he won’t seek reelection next year– a speech which ought to make Goodlatte and the vast majority of Congressional Republicans hang their heads in shame– Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said: “Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves, and as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party.”

But Senator Flake is a Republican with integrity.