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Posts tagged ‘John Yarmuth’

Democrats plan Capitol Hill event to put Trump’s mental health under fire


Reported by Kimberly Leonard |  June 05, 2019 12:00 AM

Democrats are planning to host a Capitol Hill event featuring psychiatrists who will warn that President Trump is unfit for office based on his mental health. The event will be led by Dr. Bandy Lee, a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist and editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book that argues psychiatrists have a responsibility to warn the public when a president is dangerous. The position is controversial because psychiatric associations urge members never to diagnose patients they haven’t personally evaluated, saying it undermines the scientific rigor of the profession.

But Lee and others who agree with her stance say that their description of the president’s behavior, of his showing mental instability and dangerousness, shouldn’t be interpreted as issuing a diagnosis.

“The president’s condition has been visibly deteriorating to the point where there’s a lot of talk right now about his mental state beyond mental health professionals,”Lee said. “It no longer takes a mental health professional to recognize the seriousness of the current presidency.”

The date for the town hall hasn’t been set but would be held “imminently soon within the next couple of weeks,” said Lee, who said the event was meant to be bipartisan. Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who has called for Trump’s impeachment, confirmed the event was in the works, but said it would be more likely to occur in July because lawmakers have a full plate in June with spending bills.

“We’re planning to put together an event,” Yarmuth said. “She’s calling it a town hall. We haven’t actually determined the format, but it’s going to be an event where she is going to present her findings, and media will be invited.”

Yarmuth said every House member would be invited but that he hadn’t yet gauged who would be interested because not many people knew about it. Lee said the group would reconsider the event if no Republicans planned to show up.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to Lee, attendees at the town hall would watch a condensed video that was recorded at a Washington, D.C., event held at the National Press Club in March that featured 13 experts discussing how they didn’t think Trump was fit for office. The experts, who came from the fields of mental health, philosophy, history, and journalism, said they were worried about the president’s access to nuclear weapons and the impact his administration would have on climate change.

Lee said the event is to allow members of Congress to ask her and other experts questions, but planners hope the town hall will be broadcast live so that people who aren’t in D.C. also would be able to watch and submit questions.

Lee said the experts won’t make specific recommendations about whether Congress should consider invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office or whether they should do so by impeachment. The political process should be determined by members of Congress, she said.

Yarmuth said that, to him, the event was a separate question from impeachment. “I don’t think an assessment of someone’s mental health is an impeachable issue,” he said. He decided to hold the event “for the same fears she has,”he said, referring to Lee. “That the president is manifesting dangerous behavior and the American people need to be alert to it.”

“Their position is that as professionals, when they see patterns of behavior that are endangering people, that they have a professional obligation to go public and alert the people who are threatened, and in this case it’s the American people,” Yarmuth said. “I think the American people deserve to have wider dissemination of that perspective.”

It’s not yet clear who else will participate. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who has a 25th Amendment bill that would set up a body in Congress to determine presidential fitness, had been asked to be on a panel that was based on the topic and set for sometime around May 20. The panel was then canceled or postponed because of scheduling conflicts, and Raskin’s office said it hadn’t heard about a new one in the works.

His deputy communications director, Samantha Brown, said in an email that he likely would have discussed the 25th Amendment from a historical and legal perspective.

Lee has been outspoken about Trump’s mental state. She’s the public face of a five-person group that is meeting regularly in D.C. and working to set up a medical panel to evaluate the mental capacity of Trump and Democratic presidential candidates.

“It’s deceptive because it seems like he’s alert, it seems like he’s responding to things in a rational manner, but it is not the case from every measure that we have taken,” Lee said of Trump. “And this is very serious. In fact, worse than if he had a stroke and were unconscious because he can mislead the country in destructive or nefarious ways.”

One of the other members of the working group is Dr. James Merikangas, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University, but the others haven’t identified themselves publicly and aren’t known to the Washington Examiner.

In April, Lee and other psychiatrists wrote a report using the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference to make an assessment about the president’s mental health. They at first refrained from issuing a conclusion and gave Trump three weeks to undergo an evaluation. After they didn’t hear back, they released a conclusion that Trump “lacks mental basic mental capacity for duties of office” and recommended his access to nuclear weapons and war powers be curtailed.

“Our concern is that the dangers be contained — the dangers of having a president who lacks the mental capacity, lacks the fitness to discharge his duties of office for the remainder of his term,”Lee said. “I mean, this is really a national emergency.”

House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP


Reported

The House on Thursday passed legislation to overhaul the tax code, moving Republicans one step closer to achieving the top item on their legislative agenda.  The measure was approved by a vote of 227-205. No Democrats voted for the bill, while 13 Republicans broke ranks to oppose it.

Passing this bill is the single biggest thing we can do to grow the economy, to restore opportunity and help these middle-income families who are struggling, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said ahead of the vote.

Once the bill reached the magic number for passage, Republicans in the chamber erupted into applause. Democrats mockingly joined in, with some singing “na na na na, hey hey, goodbye,” like they did when the chamber passed an ObamaCare repeal bill earlier this year.

Besides Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who had concerns about the bill’s impact on the debt, all of the GOP no votes came from the states of New York, New Jersey and California.

Opposing the bill were New York Reps. Dan Donovan, John Faso, Pete Kingc, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin; New Jersey Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen , Leonard Lance , Frank LoBiondo  and Chris Smith, and California Reps. Darrell Issa , Tom McClintock 

Passage of the tax bill, which was unveiled just two weeks ago, was relatively drama-free compared to the GOP’s failed effort to repeal ObamaCare earlier this year.

The stakes are high for Republicans, who are feeling pressure to show that they can govern ahead of next year’s midterm elections. The Democratic wave in last week’s gubernatorial and state house elections in Virginia and New Jersey has only added to their anxiety.

GOP leaders are hoping to get legislation to President Trump’s desk by Christmas, an ambitious timeline given the obstacles that are mounting in the Senate.

Ahead of the House vote, Trump visited the Capitol to rally the House GOP conference in support of the bill. The president and his economic advisers have touted tax reform as the key to unlocking economic growth.

The measure approved Thursday would reduce the number of individual tax brackets, slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and eliminate a number of tax breaks and deductions.

The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated that the bill would lower federal revenues by about $1.4 trillion over 10 years — a key finding, as the Republican budget only allows lawmakers to add $1.5 trillion to the debt during that time.

JCT said that all income groups would see a tax cut on average under the bill in 2019, but that some income groups, particularly those making $20,000 to $50,000, in some future years would see tax increases on average.

House Republicans who have labored for months on the tax bill celebrated the vote on Thursday, saying the GOP is on track to put more money in people’s pockets and spur investment in new jobs.

“For too long, this broken tax code has eroded America’s economic leadership around the world,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady  (R-Texas), the chief architect of the legislation.

Democrats denounced the bill, saying it mostly benefit wealthy individuals and corporations while increasing taxes on some in the middle class.

Rep. John Yarmuth  (D-Ky.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, brought a giant check to the House floor debate giving $500 billion to “The Wealthiest 1%” from “The American Taxpayers.” The fake check was signed, “Congressional Republicans.” 

“Hard-working families get pocket change,” Yarmuth said, holding up a handful of coins for emphasis. “But millions don’t even get that.”

The House bill would eliminate the deduction for state and local income and sales taxes and cap the property-tax deduction at $10,000, which could hurt people in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California.

“I just have too many constituents who are going to see their taxes go up or not see the benefit of the tax relief,” Zeldin said.

Senate Republicans have their own tax bill, which is currently being considered by the chamber’s tax-writing committee. The Senate legislation differs from the House’s in a number of ways. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill fully repeals the state and local tax deduction, delays the corporate tax cut until 2019 and repeals ObamaCare’s individual mandate. The Senate’s bill also sunsets tax cuts for individuals after 2025, in order to comply with the “Byrd rule” that the measure can’t increase the deficit after 10 years if it is to pass with a simple majority.

No more than two Senate Republicans can vote against their bill if Democrats are united in opposition to it. Already, Sen. Ron Johnson  (R-Wis.) has said he doesn’t support either the House or the Senate bills because they provide more of a benefit to corporations than to other types of businesses. Sen. Susan Collins(R-Maine) has expressed concerns about including repeal of the individual mandate, but has not taken a hard stance yet on the measure.

Senate Republicans are aiming to vote on their tax plan during the week after the Thanksgiving holiday.

If the Senate passes its bill, it will set up a difficult conference negotiation between the two chambers over the final legislation.

– This story was updated at 2:15 p.m.

House passes budget, paving way for tax reform


Reported

House passes budget, paving way for tax reform

 

The House passed its 2018 budget resolution Thursday in a party-line vote that represents a step toward its goal of sending tax-reform legislation to President Trump. In a 219-206 vote, lawmakers approved a budget resolution for 2018 that sets up a process for shielding the GOP tax bill from a filibuster in the Senate.

A total of 18 Republicans voted against the resolution, along with all the Democrats who were present.

GOP lawmakers hailed the vote as meaningful because of the tax measure.

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“We haven’t reformed this tax system since 1986. We need to pass this budget so we can help bring more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks for people across this country,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said during House floor debate.

Democrats lambasted it for the same reason.

“This budget isn’t about conservative policy or reducing the size of our debt and deficits. It’s not even about American families. This budget is about one thing — using budget reconciliation to ram through giant tax giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations — and to do it without bipartisan support,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

The budget reconciliation rules would allow Republicans in the Senate to pass tax reform without any Democratic votes, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only afford two defections. Republicans used the same strategy for ObamaCare repeal but failed, and are hoping for a better outcome on taxes.

Yet there are already signs of trouble, with some Republicans questioning whether the tax proposal would add too much to the deficit, and others balking at plans to eliminate a deduction for state and local taxes. The tax plan is now estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade, but that figure would grow if the state and local tax deduction is not eliminated.

Republicans have yet to secure a major legislative win despite having unified control of government. They hope to secure a tax win by the end of the year, which is an ambitious timeline.

The GOP tax reform framework unveiled last week would cut the top tax rate for the wealthy and lower taxes for businesses. The proposal would consolidate the current seven individual tax brackets into three, with rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. Committees may choose to establish a fourth rate above 35 percent for the wealthiest Americans. The current top individual rate is 39.6 percent. 

House Republicans are far behind schedule in passing the budget, which is normally approved in the spring. Thursday’s vote comes five days into the new fiscal year, and a month after the House passed all 12 of its spending bills for 2018. 

The government is operating under a temporary spending measure that runs out on December 8. Congress and Trump must strike a new deal to prevent a shutdown after that deadline. The House budget is in many ways an opening bid in that battle. 

Like the already-passed spending bills, it would increase defense spending by $72 billion, and cut nondefense spending by $5 billion. The Senate’s plan keeps overall funding levels steady.

It also includes plans for trillions of dollars in spending cuts over a decade, including from programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, but does include enforcement mechanisms to enact those plans. The budget outline, for example, assumes the adoption of a House-passed ObamaCare repeal bill that has not advanced.

The House budget leaves no room for tax reform to add to the deficit. Instead, it provides instructions for $203 billion in spending cuts from welfare programs in areas such as nutritional assistance and education. 

To unlock the reconciliation rules for tax reform, lawmakers will likely have to go to conference to sort out differences with the Senate’s budget resolution. The upper chamber’s version is being marked up in committee Thursday and is expected to move to the Senate floor in two weeks. 

The Senate budget carves out $1.5 trillion in possible tax cuts for the reform effort, a figure the House is expected to agree to. The Senate is not expected to accept the $203 billion in mandatory cuts from the House budget, but House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said she will fight to keep them in. 

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