The fascist cadres surrounding Trump– from politicians like Mike Pence, Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions to predatory billionaires like Betsy DeVos, Steve Mnuchin, Robert Mercer, the Kochs and Wilbur Ross– are attacking the American core on so many fronts that its unimaginable that congressional Democrats– led in the Senate by a severely compromised Chuck Schumer and in the House by a gaggle of feeble, tired, sclerotic hacks– will even begin to know how to resist. Can they filibuster the worst of his appointees? Would that lead to the Republicans doing away with the filibuster, their last line of defense, altogether? Should they keep their power dry for the essential battles– like saving Medicare from a depraved team of Ryan and Health and Human Services Department head Tom Price? In fact Price and Ryan have been plotting since Trump was elected to start the process of dismantling Medicare in a way that skirts the filibuster– budget reconciliation. Or is there even worse and more fundamental harm that Trump and the team united around him can do? Ari Berman, in a post at The Nation this week that tags Trump as the greatest threat to American democracy in our lifetime makes the case that massive voter suppression is in the works. Dismantling democracy… even worse than dismantling Medicare– and more permanent.
“Unlike his Democratic and Republican predecessors,” wrote Berman, “Trump has little respect for the institutions that preserve American democracy, whether it’s freedom of the press or the right to vote. We can already glimpse how a Trump administration will undermine voting rights, based on the people he nominated to top positions, those he has advising him, and his own statements. His pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, wrongly prosecuted black civil-rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in the 1980s, called the Voting Rights Act 'a piece of intrusive legislation,' and praised the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, saying that 'if you go to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin.'… Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a front-runner to head Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, has called for precisely this. During a meeting with Trump last week, Kobach brought a 'strategic plan' for DHS that advocated purging voter rolls and drafting amendments to the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, presumably to require proof of citizenship, like a passport or birth certificate, to register to vote, which prevented tens of thousands of eligible voters from being able to register in Kansas. It’s chilling that a top Trump adviser like Kobach views voting rights as a threat to homeland security.”
And then there's Bannon… Trump's brain, in the same way that Karl Rove was George W. Bush's brain. Gannon has actually said– aloud– that only property owners should be allowed to vote and, another time, that excluding African-Americans from voting is “not such a bad thing.” Does Trump understand? Can he put it into historical context in terms of where he, unexpectedly, is? Does he even care or even think about this kind of thing? Does it matter?
Trump himself said, after courts struck down voter-ID laws in states like North Carolina, that “the voter-ID situation has turned out to be a very unfair development. We may have people vote 10 times.” Ironically, one of the only documented instances of voter fraud in 2016 was committed by a Trump supporter who voted twice in Iowa– and was caught in a state without a voter-ID law.
If you want a better idea of the lengths a Trump administration might go to suppress voting rights, take a look at what Republicans are doing in North Carolina right now. A month after the Supreme Court ruled that states with a long history of discrimination no longer had to approve their voting changes with the federal government, North Carolina Republicans passed a “monster” voter-suppression law that required strict photo ID, cut early voting, and eliminated same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.
Like in so many-GOP controlled states, Republicans in North Carolina justified the voting restrictions by spreading false claims about voter fraud. (Such fraud was in fact exceedingly rare: There were only two cases of voter impersonation in North Carolina from 2002 to 2012 out of 35 million votes cast.)
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that North Carolina’s law targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” But even after the court restored a week of early voting, GOP-controlled county election boards limited early voting hours and polling locations. The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party called on Republicans to make “party line changes to early voting” that included opposing polling sites on college campuses and prohibiting early voting on Sundays, when black churches held “Souls to the Polls” voter-mobilization drives. The North Carolina GOP bragged before Election Day that “African American Early Voting is down 8.5% from this time in 2012. Caucasian voters early voting is up 22.5% from this time in 2012.”
Things got even crazier after the election. After Republican Pat McCrory lost the governor’s race to Democrat Roy Cooper by 9,000 votes, his campaign began filing bogus complaints about voter fraud in an attempt to overturn the election result or have the North Carolina legislature reinstall him as governor. Those challenged by the McCrory campaign include a 101-year-old World War II veteran in Greensboro wrongly accused of double voting.
That wasn’t all. After a black Democrat, Mike Morgan, won a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority, Republicans have proposed expanding the size of the court by two justices, who could be appointed by McCrory in his last weeks in office, allowing Republicans to retain control. This would be an outrageous rebuke to the will of the voters and the rule of law, but you can’t put anything past the North Carolina GOP these days.
North Carolina is a case study for how Republicans have institutionalized voter suppression at every level of government and made it the new normal within the GOP. The same thing could soon happen in Washington when Trump takes power.
Yesterday David Dayen, in a post for the Fiscal Times went in the opposite– as in small bore– direction when he asked if the Democrats will stand up to Trump, reminding them that their first test is coming right up… even before Trump moves to Washington. House Republicans– along with some corrupt Wall Street-owned Dems– are looking to “lift mandatory Dodd-Frank regulatory supervision for all banks with more than $50 billion in assets, meaning those financial giants would no longer be subject to blanket requirements regarding capital and leverage, public disclosures and the production of 'living wills' to map out how to unwind during a crisis” (Wall Street whore Blaine Luetkemeyer's H.R. 6392).
You can see with this bill’s framework how financial regulation in the Trump era will be relaxed, not by outright repeal but through deliberate atrophy. Republicans want to replace any mandatory rules for regulation with discretionary ones. That way they can claim that they’re merely improving the system by putting the decisions in the hands of the experts instead of members of Congress.
The second step in that process, of course, would be to hire regulators dedicated to not paying attention to anything the financial industry does. In this case, the chair of FSOC is the Treasury Secretary. Two of the rumored selections for that position in the Trump administration have current or former allegiances to banks that would be subject to an FSOC determination on enhanced supervision.
…President Obama would almost certainly veto this bill, even if it miraculously passed the Senate. But there’s a reason Republicans plan to roll it out this week instead of waiting for Trump to enter the Oval Office. They want to gauge just how much Democrats have been cowed by the election loss.
In fact, the phrase “regional banks” has a totemic power to turn Democrats’ resolve to jelly. Wall Street-friendly caucus members have already endorsed tailoring Dodd-Frank rules away from the regionals, even though that phrase minimizes the sheer size of banks with $250 billion in assets. Because Democrats can say that JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are unaffected by this change, you might see them support it. Indeed, in the Financial Services Committee, eight Democrats voted for the bill.
Below are the 8 crooked Democrats who voted with the Republicans November 4, 2015. The dollar amounts next to their names are the amounts they've taken from the banksters– the very banksters they're supposed to be overseeing. Basically, all of these people should be in prison:
• Rob Delaney (New Dem-MD)- $1,947,102
• David Scott (New Dem-GA)- $2,813,894
• Emanuel Cleaver (MO)- $1,442,924
• Gwen Moore (WI)- $1,710,912
• Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)- $1,580,970
• Brad Sherman (CA)- $3,390,648
• Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ)- $1,683,407
• Joyce Beatty (OH)- $886,100
Back to Dayan; he asked the right question: “This is really a moment of truth for those Democrats. If Republicans put up a big bipartisan vote in the House for this, the Senate will be more inclined to try to pass it down the road. And it will serve as a test case for Democratic resolve more generally. Will they submit to donors and lobbyists and play ball with the Trump deregulatory agenda, or will they recognize the harms that would cause?”
Deregulation historically has never been a partisan game. Democrats and Republicans have typically worked together to roll back rules and open up the Wall Street casino for business. H.R. 6392 could represent a return to those times, or the moment when Democrats join together and say no, forcing Republicans to funnel victories to the banking industry on their own. If I were a Democratic member of Congress, I know what I’d rather have on my conscience.
Dayan was polite enough to describe it in bipartisan terms without mentioning that the Democrats who work with the Republicans on rolling back rules and opening up Wall Street to predators are, first and foremost, corrupt and second, conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, the Kyrsten Sinemas, David Scotts, Terri Sewells and John Delaneys. And, like I said, these people don't belong in the House… they belong in the Big House. I doubt Trump would pardon them either.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis