Goodlatte helps kill rules protecting internet privacy

“Congressman Goodlatte is a strong supporter of individual privacy on the Internet,” his website proclaims.

As is often the case with Goodlatte, his pious declarations are belied by hard reality.

So it should come as no surprise that Goodlatte voted with the Republican majority on a resolution in Congress allowing internet service providers to sell and share personal information.

The Consumerist website reports:

The new Federal Communications Commission’s rules intended to limit how companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and Charter can use internet customers’ sensitive personal information are effectively dead in the water, thanks to a House of Representatives vote [Tuesday] to kill the regulations, making sure internet service providers can use and sell user data.

The final vote was 215 to repeal the privacy rules with 205 votes to keep them in place. Voting was mostly along party lines, though 15 Republicans broke rank to vote against the resolution. No Democrats voted in its favor.


The Senate has already approved this resolution, meaning it only awaits the signature of President Trump to undo the FCC regulations.

The rules, finalized in October by the FCC, effectively divide the data that your ISP has about you and your browsing habits into two categories.

The first category is sensitive data. ISPs would have been prevented from using the following information without your permission:
• Geographic location
• Children’s information
• Health information
• Financial information
• Social Security numbers
• Web browsing history
• App usage history
• The content of communications

The second category includes less-sensitive, but still personal data. ISPs would have been allowed to use this information, but would have been required to allow users the opportunity to opt out of having the following shared:

• Your name
• Your address
• Your IP address
• Your current subscription level
• Anything else not in the “opt in” bucket.

The rules were immediately opposed by ISPs and their lobbyists, who said the regulations were unfair because they did not place the same restriction on content companies Google and Netflix — while glossing over the fact that the FCC has no authority to regulate what Google and Netflix do with their user information.

I don’t know if there is a connection between Goodlatte’s vote for the anti-privacy resolution and the campaign contributions he receives from ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, which lobbied hard for the legislation. But Goodlatte’s long record of siding with his corporate donors against the interests of consumers and workers remains intact.

Will Goodlatte release his phone and email totals on the AHCA?

Before House Speaker Paul Ryan concluded he didn’t have enough Republican votes and pulled the American Health Care Act from the floor, Congressman Goodlatte spoke in favor of that misbegotten bill.

Note that Goodlatte cited three constituents who he said urged him to support the AHCA and repeal the Affordable Care Act. He did not mention the many other constituents who told him how the ACA had made life-saving insurance possible for them and their families.

We don’t know how many constituents urged him to vote for or against the AHCA because– unlike several other representatives— Goodlatte hasn’t released a tally of the phone calls and emails he received on the matter.

It would be most interesting to know the figures– which I would be willing to bet indicated overwhelming opposition to the AHCA among Sixth District residents who contacted the congressman.

Of course Goodlatte could very easily prove me wrong (or right) by releasing the totals. How about it, Congressman?

Goodlatte’s goal remains: kill Obamacare

Here’s what Congressman Goodlatte posted on Facebook after House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act (the GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act) from the floor because of a lack of Republican support.

Goodlatte said he intended to vote for the truly awful legislation that would have stripped tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance and driven up premiums for millions more while providing a huge tax break to the very rich. Now he won’t get a chance.

Despite this disaster for President Trump and Congressional Republicans, Goodlatte remains committed to killing the ACA instead of working to make it stronger and better. We need to be vigilant.

Goodlatte: “It’s my intention” to vote for the GOP’s replacement for the ACA

Speaking at the end of a Facebook Live session about the vote scheduled for Thursday in the House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the Republican-backed American Health Care Act, Congressman Goodalatte said:

“We’re still looking at changes that have been made. There may be changes that could come ahead. We want to make sure we look at all those carefully. But it’s my intention, based up the information I have now, to support this legislation.”

So Goodlatte is prepared to ignore (among other things) the Congressional Budget Office finding that 24 million Americans (including thousands in the Sixth District) stand to lose health insurance under the AHCA, as well as President Trump’s own admission that people living in places which voted for him would do far worse under the AHCA.

Can Goodlatte be convinced by his constituents to change his mind between now and the vote on Thursday? Contact him and find out.

Goodlatte likes Trump’s “bold set of priorities”

Congressman Goodlatte issued the following statement Thursday on President Trump’s budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018:

President Trump ran on a platform of stronger national defense, reprioritizing domestic spending, and strengthening our nation’s borders. That is exactly what his budget blueprint released today does – he told America what he would do, and now he is following through on his promises. While I am still reviewing President Trump’s proposal and its impacts on the Sixth District specifically, this bold set of priorities is a strong step forward in reducing bureaucratic waste and ensuring a strong national defense. As a matter of policy, however, the President’s budget is just one plan of many that Congress will consider as it crafts the FY18 budget and individual appropriations bills. I look forward to working with leaders in the House to pass a fiscally responsible budget that balances, ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively, keeps us safe from terrorist threats, protects our individual freedoms and liberties, and sets the stage for a healthier American economy.

Among many other unconscionable things, the budget blueprint “reprioritizes” out of existence federal funding for the Meals on Wheels program, which provides nutritious meals to elderly shut-ins. It does the same to the Appalachian Regional Commission, which has has boosted economic development and infrastructure in our region– including parts of the Sixth District– for more than 50 years.

There are a lot of other ways this budget would harm the people Goodlatte claims to represent in Congress.

Yet presumably knowing this, Goodlatte calls Trump’s proposal a “bold set of priorities” and a “strong step forward.”

Goodlatte’s phone number is (202) 225-5431. He is up for reelection on November 6, 2018.

Does Goodlatte know what Trump knows?

When House Republicans released their proposed alternative to the Affordable Care Act, Congressman Goodlatte was noncommittal. He promised to review the bill (it’s been more than a week now, Congressman), although he told an interviewer, “This plan is headed where it needs to head.”

 I wonder if Goodlatte still believes that after Donald Trump picked an awkward moment to be honest for a change.

The counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump are mostly rural counties with older populations– including many of the counties in the Sixth District. And their residents would bear the brunt of a switch from the Affordable Care Act to the Republican plan.

Whom do we believe, Congressman?

“It’s important for people to know that this is phase one of what will be at least a three-phase process.”

Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte discussing the House Republicans’ proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

“There is no three-phase process. There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It’s just politicians engaging in spin.”

Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas saying otherwise.

CBO punctures Goodlatte’s health care fantasy

It’s not clear whether this interview with Congressman Goodlatte on WHSV3 in Harrisonburg was conducted before or after the Congressional Budget Office released its finding that 24 million Americans stand to lose health insurance under the Republicans’ proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, but here are some of the things he said:

“This plan [i.e., the Republican alternative] is headed where it needs to head.”

“We will replace the mandates with greater access to health care.”

“Those people [i.e., people currently covered by the ACA] will have a long transition period to switch over to something else.”

The Washington Post reports:

The analysis, released late Monday afternoon by the Congressional Budget Office, predicts that 24 million fewer people would have coverage a decade from now than if the Affordable Care Act remains intact, nearly doubling the share of Americans who are uninsured from 10 percent to 19 percent. The office projects the number of uninsured people would jump 14 million after the first year.

The CBO is led by a Republican appointed by GOP leaders in 2015.

The “well-suited” Steve King speaks his racist mind again

In January, as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte appointed Congressman Steve King of Iowa to be chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

As Goodlatte knew at the time, King has a history of saying stupid and racist things. But he chose to ignore that.

“His expertise on many of the issues facing our nation and the committee make him well-suited to serve as chairman of the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee,” Goodlatte said in a written statement. “I look forward to working with him as we seek to safeguard Americans’ liberties and promote an efficient and just legal system.”

Now The Washington Post reports:

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has gained notoriety for his often contentious — and, occasionally, almost overtly racist — comments about immigration and the demographics of the United States. On Sunday, in a tweet about the nationalist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, King again appears to have crossed the line.

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King wrote. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

The formulation of “our” civilization being at risk from “somebody else’s babies” is a deliberate suggestion that American civilization is threatened by unnamed “others” — almost certainly a reference to non-Westerners. The idea that national identity and racial identity overlap entirely is the crux of white nationalism; King’s formulation above toes close to that line, if it doesn’t cross.

So congratulations, Congressman Goodlatte, for recognizing how “well-suited” Steve King is to head an important subcommittee that is supposed to help ensure equal justice for all Americans. Come out and take a bow.

Congressman? Congressman?

Update: There’s more. What now, Bob?



Goodlatte-sponsored bill makes it harder for consumers to sue for damages

While most media attention was focused elsewhere, Republicans in the House of Representatives pushed through a bill authored by Congressman Goodlatte that makes it harder for ordinary consumers to join class-action lawsuits.

David Lazarus, consumer affairs reporter for The Los Angeles Times, spoke with Goodlatte (something relatively few of the congressman’s Sixth District constituents have been able to do):

“Frivolous lawsuits have no place in our legal system, and the true victims of frivolous lawsuits are often small businesses and individuals who cannot afford to fight these claims,” he said.

Apparently this is an extremely urgent issue because Goodlatte introduced his bill only a month ago. It was approved by his committee’s Republican majority less than a week later without any public hearings or debate.

“The legislation … addresses the abuses within our civil justice system, helps ensure that baseless lawsuits are quickly dispensed with and improves protections for deserving victims so the doors to justice remain open for parties with legitimate claims,” Goodlatte said.

What it really does is impose strict new rules on class actions that make them a lot harder to get off the ground. Not surprisingly, the bill is strongly supported by the business-boosting U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent millions lobbying on its behalf.

The legislation’s key provision would allow a class to be certified — that is, to receive court approval for plaintiffs to band together — only if all members “suffered the same type and scope of injury as the named class representative.”

That’s a spectacularly unfair stipulation for a bill claiming to be all about fairness.

Take air bags. Let’s say the originator of a class-action lawsuit was severely injured by an exploding air bag. If Goodlatte’s bill were law, the only people who could join the suit would be people who received similarly extensive harm.

Someone who sustained lesser or different injuries probably wouldn’t qualify for the case.


The shame of it is that Goodlatte’s bill also contains some thoughtful provisions, such as limiting lawyers’ payouts to “a reasonable percentage” of whatever plaintiffs are awarded. Often, attorneys walk off with a big chunk of the cash and leave individual class members with relatively little.

But these worthwhile ideas are far outweighed by the ridiculous “same scope of injury” provision.

Lazarus concludes:

Our legal system is far from perfect and, yes, there are abuses of class actions and damages claims. But significantly tilting the playing field in favor of businesses doesn’t improve things.

Consider recent fraud and defective-product scandals involving Wells Fargo, Volkswagen and air bag maker Takata. Consumers and employees responded with class-action lawsuits.

Anyone think those cases are frivolous?