Est. 1995

Tag: Social Security

“America has the best politicians money can buy.” Best judges too.

The humorist Will Rogers once noted that “America has the best politicians money can buy.” It appears that we have the best judges too.

The humorist Will Rogers once noted that “America has the best politicians money can buy.” It appears that we have the best judges too.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America, a lawsuit filed by predatory payday lenders seeking to strike down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) independent funding mechanism—and by extension, the Bureau itself. The case, in which the agency is appealing a far-right Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last October, could have catastrophic impacts if the Roberts Court sides with the payday lender plaintiffs. As the Prospect’s David Dayen has noted, the Fifth Circuit’s ruling “threatens the functioning of daily life,” as its radical interpretation of the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause would gut not only the CFPB (triggering a 2008-like mortgage market meltdown), but also many other regulatory agencies and federal programs without traditional appropriations—including Medicare, Social Security, and the Federal Reserve.

An obvious backdrop to this high-stakes case is the mounting ethics scandals of the Court’s conservative justices. Take Justice Samuel Alito, for example. Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer—who took Alito on a luxury Alaska fishing trip—holds at least $90 million in financial companies overseen by the CFPB. Alito has thus far failed to recuse himself from the case.

The ethics conflicts are even worse for Justice Clarence Thomas, who has also failed to recuse. According to ProPublica, Thomas has secretly attended at least two donor events for conservative billionaire Charles Koch’s political advocacy organization and is seen as a “fundraising draw” for the Koch network. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, one of the Koch empire’s many advocacy arms, has filed an amicus brief in CFPB v. CFSA calling the Bureau a “threat [to] liberty” and “mockery of the separation of powers.” Another anti-CFPB amicus filer in the case is none other than John Eastman, a former Thomas law clerk who is currently facing disbarment proceedings and a criminal indictment for trying to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election results. Eastman has previously tried to leverage his connections with Thomas to his benefit, corresponding with Thomas’s wife Ginni (a notably unhinged electoral fraud conspiracy theorist) in the run-up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

On top of all these egregious violations of elementary judicial ethics, our research revealed another ethics controversy surrounding Thomas and CFPB v. CFSA that has thus far escaped close scrutiny. It concerns Thomas’s central role in the Horatio Alger Association, an exclusive circle of wealthy business elites that gave Thomas lavish undisclosed gifts. In return, Thomas has granted the Alger Association rare annual private use of the Supreme Court chambers for its new-member induction ceremony—an event that Thomas personally hosts every year. The Alger Association has publicly promoted the Thomas-hosted Supreme Court ceremony in its fundraising materials, an act frowned upon by Court officials. According to a review of the Alger Association’s members conducted by the Revolving Door Project, at least 18 Alger members have either previously expressed an interest in weakening the CFPB or stand to gain from the Court gutting the Bureau. These wealthy elites span multiple sectors overseen by the CFPB and include some of its most prominent recurring opponents.

Though we at the Revolving Door Project called for Thomas’s and Alito’s recusal from this case in light of these ethics scandals, the Court’s well-established contempt for accountability and integrity offers little hope they will heed our advice. Should both of them persist in hearing CFPB v. CFSA on Tuesday despite their glaring conflicts of interest, the case for their impeachment and for rebalancing the Court to create an ethical majority will become even stronger.

The corporate elites and right-wing ideologues who populate the Alger Association’s membership roster clearly have a lot to gain from gutting the CFPB. Clarence Thomas has enjoyed the comically elitist connections and lavish undisclosed gifts of the Alger Association for over 30 years.  Are we really to believe that Thomas never once discussed issues of financial regulation and corporate law enforcement during decades of hobnobbing with America’s top bankers, investors, and lenders behind closed doors? Please. The fact that Thomas did not fully disclose his Alger activities and gifts from the very beginning, or the other Caligula-esque largesse he has received from other billionaire patrons—all while carefully constructing an aw-shucks persona as a guy who prefers to hang out in Walmart parking lots in his RV—speaks for itself.

Source:
 
Clarence Thomas Has Yet Another Huge Conflict of Interest

Republicans are “this close” to ending Social Security

 

Republicans are “this close” — just a matter of months away — from ending Social Security, a goal they’ve worked toward ever since 1935. They hope to use six Republicans on a corrupted Supreme Court to get there.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse points out, in his book The Scheme and his YouTube series about the same, that American oligarchs launched a campaign to seize control of the Supreme Court — and, thus, the American government — over 40 years ago, and they are now close to their goal of turning America back to the 1920s.

“This case is the product of a decades-long effort by pro-corporate interests to eviscerate the federal government’s regulatory apparatus, to the detriment of the American people.” Said Senators Whitehouse, Hirono, Feinstein, and Warren

Recently we learned from ProPublica reporting that Clarence Thomas has been the featured attraction at several multi-million-dollar fundraising events by the Koch brothers to marshal resources that could apparently be used, in part, to bring cases before the Supreme Court. In previous years, the late Antonin Scalia often joined him at these events.

Now that the billionaires have succeeded in packing the Court with six hard-right justices who are perfectly willing to ignore federal law about ethics on federal courts and enthusiastic to dance to their benefactors’ tunes, we’re getting close to the point that David Koch envisioned in 1980 when he ran for Vice President on the Libertarian ticket.

His platform was clear, calling for the end of the EPA and other regulatory agencies, and the privatization of the Post Office, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, libraries, and all the nation’s roads and rivers, among other things.

With two cases that the six corrupt Republicans on the Court will be hearing this fall, David could be getting his wish.

Source:
 
How the Billionaire Corruption of SCOTUS Could End Social Security – and America

Everyone loses when MAGA Republicans get their way

Freedumb Caucus

Freedom Caucus, US House, GOP Right Wing, speaker of the house, political cartoon

 

What you need to know

Now you might be thinking: Didn’t we just go through this whole cycle a few months ago? The brinksmanship, the urgent warnings, the crisis over government funding? Why on earth is this happening again?

The short answer: Because Republicans have handed the car keys to the most extreme members of their caucus and they’re driving us all off a cliff.

The long answer: The May default crisis was resolved in the nick of time with a deal between President Biden and Kevin McCarthy. That deal set top-line spending levels for the coming year’s budget.

MAGA arsonist Matt GaetzExtreme MAGA Republicans have spent the last several months agitating against the deal. Their demands are wide-ranging and radical. They want dramatic cuts to federal programs. They want to defund the DOJ and aid to Ukraine. They want to restrict access to medication abortion. They want drastic cuts to social safety net programs. In short, they want to move the goalposts for the budget process into right-wing fantasy land. As a result, Republican House members are currently literally unable to agree with each other on how to fund the federal government.

Now, this would not be a problem if Kevin McCarthy was willing to ignore the MAGA caucus. Because he does have enough votes in the House to pass the original deal. It’s just that he’d need Democratic votes to do it. And he’s committed to his caucus that he won’t pass a funding bill unless it can pass with only Republican votes.

US government shutdown: What is it and who would be affected?

This crisis could also be resolved if even a handful of Republicans were willing to go against their party and sign a discharge petition to allow Democrats to bring a bipartisan bill to the floor. A discharge petition is a tactic that allows a majority of Congress members to override the Speaker and put a bill on the floor. Plenty of Republicans (especially the ones who are worried about their re-elections, like the Unrepresentatives) are giving quotes about being frustrated, or how they wish their party would get its act together. Every time you hear that, just remember: it would take 6 Republicans signing a discharge petition to allow Democrats to bring a bipartisan bill to the floor. If your representative isn’t willing to do this, then their words are meaningless.

It’s common for the media to frame shutdowns as a “both sides” issue. But let’s be clear: This is not a situation where “Washington is broken” or “the two sides can’t work it out.” The deal has been reached. The votes for the deal are there. That’s not the problem. The problem is that Republicans, under pressure from their most extreme MAGA members, have unilaterally abandoned the deal. They would rather shut the government down than simply work with Democrats to pass the budget deal they already agreed to.

Don’t just take our word for it — here’s the same point from an unlikely source:

 

Said arsonist Matt Gaetz, “We cannot blame the Democrats for having not done our job to comply with the coalition agreement that we made at the beginning of the year. That is the fault of the Speaker.”

All of this would be comical if there weren’t such awful consequences for the rest of us. The pain of a government shutdown is enormous. Essential services for seniors, working families, the military, and first responders are disrupted. Kids go hungry because programs like WIC and SNAP lose funding. Disaster relief funding — like money for the survivors of the Maui fires — is delayed or cut. And crucial government functions like food safety inspections and air travel oversight risk disruption.

Everyone loses when MAGA Republicans get their way.

OK, so what do we do about it?

There are two things we need to do here: 

First, we need to get out of this mess without rewarding Republicans’ terrible behavior. If you’ve got a Democratic representative, you should be telling them to stand strong. If you’ve got a Republican representative, you should be putting the heat on them — especially if you’ve got a Republican who represents a flippable district, or who’s in principle opposed to their party’s shenanigans.

Second, if a shutdown does occur, we need to make sure that the public understands that it’s a product of Republican extremism and dysfunction. Republicans are doing something very unpopular (shutting down the government) to try to get something else that’s also very unpopular (cuts to essential programs for families, seniors, and more). They need to pay a political price for it. Fortunately, we’ve got a plan for that – an entire campaign. Join our Unrepresentatives Project and help us hold the most vulnerable Republicans accountable. 

The reality is that for these folks, the election season has already started. If this shutdown drags on, we’ve got to make sure they see consequences for it.

In solidarity,
Leah Greenberg
Co-founder and Co-Executive Director, of Indivisible

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