A positive step forward? For whom?

Details are still conveniently sketchy, but Congressman Goodlatte reacted favorably to the Trump-backed Republican “tax reform” plan announced Wednesday.

As for who stands to benefit the most from this plan: it’s clearly not the vast majority of Goodlatte’s Sixth District constituents. The New York Times reports:

The tax plan that the Trump administration outlined on Wednesday is a potentially huge windfall for the wealthiest Americans. It would not directly benefit the bottom third of the population. As for the middle class, the benefits appear to be modest.

The administration and its congressional allies are proposing to sharply reduce taxation of business income, primarily benefiting the small share of the population that owns the vast majority of corporate equity. President Trump said on Wednesday that the cuts would increase investment and spur growth, creating broader prosperity. But experts say the upside is limited, not least because the economy is already expanding.

The plan would also benefit Mr. Trump and other affluent Americans by eliminating the estate tax, which affects just a few thousand uber-wealthy families each year, and the alternative minimum tax, a safety net designed to prevent tax avoidance.


Mr. Trump has also pledged repeatedly that the plan would reduce the taxes paid by middle-class families, but he has not provided enough details to evaluate that claim. While some households would probably get tax cuts, others could end up paying more.

While we await more details, it’s worth noting that the massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would cost the federal government trillions of dollars in revenue and cause a huge increase in the federal deficit.

The GOP’s outline for tax reform could cost the country $2.2 trillion in lost revenue over a decade, according to a preliminary study by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget , a fiscally conservative advocacy group.

“These numbers come with a high degree of uncertainty and exclude a number of potential offsets where no details exist. But it is clear that much more work needs to be done to ensure tax reform is fiscally responsible,” the group said in its study.

Senate Republicans are allowing themselves up to $1.5 trillion in deficit-financed tax cuts to pass tax reform. If the group’s estimates are correct, they will need to find billions more in revenues to pass the bill according to standards they set for themselves.

The plan’s Republican backers assure us that the tax cuts will spur unprecedented economic growth which will produce enough new tax revenues to close the gap in a way that has never happened before– a scenario rejected by (among others) Bruce Bartlett, an adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

So why isn’t a “deficit hawk” like Goodlatte– who routinely introduces balanced budget amendments to the Constitution and warns of the dire consequences of increasing deficits– sounding alarms about this latest plan?

One of Goodlatte’s GOP colleagues– who speaks more forthrightly than Goodlatte ever does– explained:

“It’s a great talking point when you have an administration that’s Democrat-led,” said Representative Mark Walker, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of about 150 conservative House members. “It’s a little different now that Republicans have both houses and the administration.”

You only need look at Goodlatte’s voting record to understand the truth of that remark.

Thousands of Sixth District children may lose health insurance next year. Does Goodlatte care?

Even though nearly one-third of the children living in the Sixth District obtain health care through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Congressman Goodlatte has never been a friend of those vital laws.

In 2009, for example, he voted against a law that extended CHIP coverage to four million children without health insurance.

Now The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:

Virginia will run out of money to provide health care to 65,000 children from low-income families by January if federal lawmakers fail to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is set to expire when the federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30, said Linda Nablo, chief deputy director of the Department of Medical Assistance Services, which administers the services in question.

“It’s just insane,” Nablo said in an interview. “I cannot imagine that Congress would want to have on their plates that they just ended coverage for millions of children.”

Enacted in 1997, CHIP — which is operated in Virginia as Family Access to Medical Insurance Security, or FAMIS — has been reauthorized by Congress every few years without much fuss. But this year it has been overlooked in the tumult raised over the Republican-controlled Congress’s latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as the Graham-Cassidy bill.

Although Goodlatte has touched on a number of other matters on his Twitter account and Facebook page in recent weeks, he has yet to say a word publicly about the impending health crisis facing thousands of children in his district. You’d think this would be one of his highest priorities.

Let’s hope the congressman can finally overcome his hostility to helping children from low-income families obtain health care their families could otherwise not afford.

Anthem will provide ACA coverage to all parts of Virginia facing cutoff

No thanks to Congressman Goodlatte, Anthem has agreed to offer health insurance through the Affordable Care Act to every part of Virginia that stood to lose it entirely in 2018.

Announcing the agreement, Gov. Terry McAuliffe pointedly said:

[T]his decision does not change the fact that President Trump and Republicans in Congress are actively working to undermine the Affordable Care Act, to the detriment of states like Virginia. It is imperative that leaders in Washington take quick action to make sure the Marketplace in Virginia and those across the country are sustainable for years to come.

Republican Goodlatte has done everything in his power to undermine the Affordable Care Act, which provides health insurance to more than 30,000 of his Sixth District constituents. He blamed the threatened cutoff in Virginia on the law itself and said it was up to McAuiliffe to find a solution.

Thanks for nothing, Congressman.

Most of Goodlatte’s district affected by loss of ACA coverage

Large parts of western Virginia– including almost all of the Sixth Congressional District– will not have any health insurance available through the Affordable Care Act in 2018, The Roanoke Times reports.

Insurers blame President Donald Trump for making subsidies unreliable and Congress for failing to stabilize the market.

Virginia Secretary of Health Dr. Bill Hazel said Tuesday that Washington had manufactured this crisis, which will affect about 70,000 of the 350,000 Virginians who purchase policies on the exchange.

“They are the ones who have to fix it,” he said. “Our hands are all but tied.”

Hazel said he has been meeting with Virginia insurers, but none is willing to reenter the market as long as federal cost-sharing reduction payments are at risk. The payments are subsidies to lower-income people to help cover out-of-pocket expenses of high deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance.


Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, said several governors have stepped up to find ways to keep exchanges running in their states.

“I hope Gov. McAuliffe will consider a way to do this as well,” he said.

Goodlatte, whose district is widely affected by the insurers’ pullout, said the problem was created by the Affordable Care Act.

“Unfortunately, the collapse of insurance exchanges shouldn’t be a surprise. From the very beginning, many have said, I included, that this law is simply unworkable and the systems put into place by it will not adequately serve American families. Now, those chickens have come home to roost,” Goodlatte said.

So having done virtually everything in his power since the ACA was enacted in 2010 to kill or undermine rather than fix the law that provides affordable insurance to tens of millions of Americans (including more than 30,000 in the Sixth District), Goodlatte blames the law itself and looks to Gov. McAuliffe for a solution.

Sorry, Congressman.  If tens of thousands of your constituents lose their health insurance next year, the blame will lie with you, your Republican colleagues and your Republican president.

Goodlatte amendment would weaken Chesapeake protections

Congressman Goodlatte is continuing his war against federal regulations protecting and improving the environment.

In a move that environmentalists charged would undermine the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking action against any state in the Bay watershed that fails to meet pollution reduction goals set by the EPA six years ago.

The measure, an amendment to an EPA and Interior Department spending bill put forward by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, passed Thursday night by a largely party line vote of 214 to 197.


In a statement issued after the House vote, Goodlatte said his amendment was needed to prevent a “federal power grab” over the Bay cleanup effort.

“My amendment stops the EPA from hijacking states’ water quality strategies,” he said. “It removes the ability of the EPA to take retaliatory or ‘backstop’ actions against the six states located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed if they do not meet EPA-mandated goals.”

It might be slightly possible to take Goodlatte’s concerns seriously if Virginia Republican Congressmen Rob Wittman and Scott Taylor and Maryland GOP Congressman Andy Harris– normally party-line voters– had not joined the unanimous Democratic minority to oppose Goodlatte’s measure. All three represent districts bordering the Chesapeake Bay.

Goodlatte’s strange history on hurricane relief

Congressman Goodlatte did the right thing when he joined the overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives to approve nearly $8 billion in preliminary relief for the parts of Texas and Louisiana devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

In 2005 Goodlatte joined in the almost unanimous vote for a nearly $52 billion aid package after Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Mississippi and other parts of the Gulf Coast, and for a bill allowing the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow more money to aid Katrina victims.

But when Hurricane Sandy caused enormous damage to parts of New York and New Jersey in 2012, Goodlatte voted against a nearly $51 billion aid package and against a flood insurance measure similar to the one he approved after Katrina.

Some Republicans said they would have voted for the Sandy relief if it had been offset by spending cuts in other areas. But there were no such offsets for the Katrina relief or the Harvey relief.

According to ProPublica:

The $51.8 billion relief bill passed after Katrina and the $50.7 billion one [for Sandy relief] aren’t exactly the same. The Katrina version allocated almost all of the money to the Department of Homeland Security for disaster relief, while the Sandy one directs relief money to a slew of federal agencies.

Conservatives derided some of the provisions of the Sandy bill as pork. As they point out, the bill allocates billions to dozens of federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the bill also specifies the agencies must spend the money on Sandy-related expenses.

I’d hate to think that Goodlatte’s votes were influenced by the fact that Katrina and Harvey struck Republican-leaning “red states” during Republican administrations while Sandy struck Democratic-leaning “blue states” during a Democratic administration.

Perhaps he can offer us another explanation.

Update: Goodlatte voted against a bill to provide $15.25 billion in Harvey relief, raise the debt limit and extend government funding for three months.

DACA’s fate is in Goodlatte’s hands

After President Trump’s decision to terminate the DACA program– that protects from deportation 800,000 people brought to the US as children by undocumented immigrants– Congressman Goodlatte proclaimed:

I stand ready to work with the Trump Administration and my colleagues in Congress to address this problem the right way: through reasonable legislation passed by Congress, rather than by executive fiat.”

So it was good to be reminded that precisely such reasonable legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives back on January 12, 2017, and referred to the Goodlatte-chaired Judiciary Committee– where it still awaits action.

The BRIDGE Act (HR 496)– introduced by Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado– would extend DACA for three years pending a permanent solution.

As chair of the Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte had the power at any time between January 12 and now to bring up the BRIDGE Act for a vote in committee and send it to the full House for consideration.

He didn’t. And so Coffman has filed a discharge petition, requiring the signatures of a majority in the House, to force the bill onto the House floor for a vote.

Of course Goodlatte could make this effort moot by simply bringing the BRIDGE Act up for debate and vote in the Judiciary Committee.

Will he? He should be asked.

High-tech hypocrisy

My posts at Goodlatte Watch are almost always aimed at Congressman Goodlatte himself. But my target this time is different.

Executives of some of the nation’s leading information technology companies have reacted with overwhelming disapproval to President Trump’s decision to end the DACA protection for DREAMers brought to the US by their parents.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote:

As a CEO, I see each day the direct contributions that talented employees from around the world bring to our company, our customers and to the broader economy. We care deeply about the DREAMers who work at Microsoft and fully support them. We will always stand for diversity and economic opportunity for everyone. It is core to who we are at Microsoft and I believe it is core to what America is.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, called Trump’s decision “cruel.” And Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, posted this:

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted:

So perhaps Nadella, Zuckerberg, Sandberg and Pichai would like to explain why their companies’ political action committees so generously funded the most recent reelection campaign (and previous campaigns) of Congressman Goodlatte, who– as chair of the House Judiciary Committee– has for years blocked meaningful immigration reform and who said Trump did “the right thing” on DACA.

Goodlatte co-chairs the Congressional Internet Caucus. The House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, includes a subcommittee on intellectual property and the internet. It appears that buying political access to the congressman on such matters has overridden any other considerations by these supposedly “enlightened” and “progressive” companies. I hope that changes.

Goodlatte approves Trump’s end of protection for “Dreamers”

Congressman Goodlatte has issued a statement supporting President Trump’s cruel decision to end the DACA program which allows 800.000 people brought to the US by their parents to remain in the country if they have no criminal records are are going to school, working or serving in the military.

President Trump has done the right thing by ending this unlawfully-contrived program. In addition to working on immigration enforcement legislation, per the President’s request, I stand ready to work with the Trump Administration and my colleagues in Congress to address this problem the right way: through reasonable legislation passed by Congress, rather than by executive fiat.

Putting aside Goodlatte’s dubious assertion that the DACA program is “unlawfully-contrived”: Are we to take this seriously after Goodlatte has done his best as chair of the House Judiciary Committee to block the sort of meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform supported by a majority of Americans?