Monday, December 21, 2015

Guess what the Republican Congress has done now

You may have heard that the Republican-led Congress has finally passed a budget bill to avoid a government shutdown.  The bill is 2000 pages long and was enacted in the middle of the night.  It passed, but only after numerous pet pieces of legislation of various Republican legislators that would never have passed on their own were added when no one was  looking.  

Huffington Post Josh Silver and Mansur Gidgar took a look deep inside the new budget bill and found some pretty horrible stuff like the following:

  • 501(c)4s are tax exempt organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors.  They are supposed to be non-profit and “operated primarily to promote social welfare” like, for example, the NAACP and AARP.  Such organizations can fund political advertisements as long as politics is not their principal activity.  The IRS is supposed to be the watchdog to make sure that unscrupulous political operatives don’t set up sham 501(c)4s organizations so foreign governments, large corporations or billionaires buying influence don’t have to disclose their political activities.  No longer.  Hidden in the Republican budget is a provision that bars the IRS from asking questions.  The 501(c)4s watchdog has been muzzled.
  • CEOs of large corporations got a gift buried on page 1,982 of the bill.  Now they don’t have to worry about being required to disclose their corporation’s political spending, even to their stockholders.  The Securities and Exchange Commission has been barred from requiring such disclosure. 
  • Numerous privacy groups along with major tech companies like Apple, Google, Twitter and Wikipedia have opposed something called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) which encourages companies to share the data they collect on their customers’ activities with government agencies.  The Republican-controlled Congress has not been successful in getting CISA passed in the open so they just buried the entire bill in the budget act.  So much for privacy or open government.
Read the Silver/Gidgar post here:

Two Really, Really DUMP provisions inserted in the budget act

Finally, Huffington Post’s Zack Carter discovered that while they were stuffing the budget bill in the middle of the night with provisions that they could never pass in the light of day, the Republican Congress managed to add two of the dumbest pieces of legislation ever passed:
  1. A provision denying funding to a nonexistent organization.  Section 522 makes it illegal to provide funds to ACORN, an organization that has not existed for more than five years.
  2. A provision forbidding the  U.S. Government from distributing pornography.  In  four different places in the budget bill, the Republican Congress inserted the following provision:

    “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to maintain or establish a computer network unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and exchanging of pornography.”
    That’s going to upset a lot of lonely soldiers and sailors.  Fortunately guys and gals, most legal scholars say such a provision is totally meaningless and unenforceable. 


Hilary vs Trump vs the Republican nominee
2016 is going to be a blast!

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