Can you tolerate him?

We may not see eye-to-eye on much, Congressman Goodlatte, but I agree with you on the importance of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and misconduct– in Congress or anywhere else.

Now I have a question for you: In the photo below, can you identify  the self-confessed sexual predator facing multiple credible allegations of sexual harassment and  misconduct?

goodlatte trump

Goodlatte versus net neutrality

Although he has recently tried to obscure his position, Congressman Goodlatte is a staunch opponent of the net neutrality rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015– a rule which the FCC is preparing to rescind in December.

Net neutrality simply guarantees equal and open access to all internet content for all users.

According to the Save the Internet website:

Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open internet.

The internet without Net Neutrality isn’t really the internet. Unlike the open internet that has paved the way for so much innovation and given a platform to people who have historically been shut out, it would become a closed-down network where cable and phone companies call the shots and decide which websites, content or applications succeed.

This would have an enormous impact. Companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to decide who is heard and who isn’t. They’d be able to block websites or content they don’t like or applications that compete with their own offerings.

After the FCC adopted net neutrality in 2015, Goodlatte called it “the most heavy-handed regulatory regime imaginable.” He wrote:

The order will undoubtedly raise Internet service costs, discourage investment, and slow broadband speeds. It’s currently estimated that we will see $11 billion in new taxes and fees. It will reduce consumer choice as well.

In fact there is no evidence that any of this has happened. An investigation by the Internet Association, a trade group representing leading internet companies, found:

–No negative impact on telecom infrastructure investment, broadband infrastructure investment, or cable infrastructure investment – utilizing a variety of techniques and checks, the paper finds no slowdown in investment in the USA compared to other OECD countries and no causal impact overall from the FCC policies on investment

–No capacity or bottlenecking issues for the telecommunications industry – as reflected by production prices below those of the late 1990s/early 2000s

–No evidence of industry harm – aggregate corporate net income and equity have increased steadily since approximately 2008

–No impact on industry innovation by telecom providers – as reflected by a sharp and consistent rise in capacity, speeds, and patents.

Instead of net neutrality rules, Goodlatte advocates stronger enforcement of antitrust laws. But as Joshua Stager of New America’s Open Technology Institute wrote, net neutrality regulations and antitrust enforcement are not mutually exclusive:

A net neutrality regime that relies solely on antitrust analysis would be narrowly focused on pricing harms, such as those found in cartels and monopolies. Such a legal theory may prevent some paid prioritization schemes, but it cannot address the non-economic goals of net neutrality such as free speech, political participation and viewpoint diversity. The FCC is empowered to protect this broader array of social benefits. An antitrust-only approach would be piecemeal at best, as remedies are typically applied to a single actor rather than as industry-wide rules. This approach can be useful in some contexts, but it shouldn’t be the only tool in the government’s toolkit.

Because big internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have been among the strongest opponents of net neutrality, it’s worth noting that during all his campaigns for Congress, Goodlatte received $85,750 in donations from AT&T (his third largest contributor), $77,150 from Comcast (his eighth largest contributor) and $73,649 from Verizon (his tenth largest contributor).

Goodlatte’s chance to be brave and decent

If Congressman Goodlatte wants to do at least one brave and decent thing before he retires at the end of next year, he should remove Steve King as chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

King, an Iowa Republican, is probably the most openly racist member of Congress. Yet last January committee chair Goodlatte appointed King to head that important subcommittee, calling him “well-suited” for the position.

Now King has tweeted a claim that George Soros– a Jewish financier who has helped support democratic movements throughout Eastern Europe in the post-Soviet era and who is despised by, among others, the Putin regime in Russia— is targeting “Western Civilization.”

steve king tweet

King approvingly retweeted a quote from Hungary’s rightwing Prime Minister Viktor Orban about the danger to a nation’s “biological survival” from immigrants. Since almost every American is an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants, perhaps King can explain how the US has managed to survive, biologically and otherwise.

Orban, another enemy of Soros , has defended the idea of “illiberal democracy”– citing the autocratic regimes of Russia and Turkey as examples. If King admires Orban, he has no business heading a subcommittee tasked with upholding the foundation of our  democracy– the Constitution of the United States.

Even more disturbing, King’s retweet comes from a white nationalist, anti-Muslim and antisemitic group called “Defend Europa.” The group’s website is full of articles with titles such as “The Attack on Whites & The Nuclear Family” and “The Bolshevik Revolution’s Jewish Roots.”

It should surprise no one– least of all Goodlatte– that King would share an ideological kinship with an outfit like “Defend Europa.”

Congressman Goodlatte: the next move is up to you.

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.