DCCC backing Abby Finkenauer in IA-01

The main political arm of U.S. House Democrats is officially promoting Abby Finkenauer as its preferred candidate to take on Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first district.

Finkenauer was among the initial group named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program for this election cycle, as first reported by Roll Call’s Simone Pathe on November 15. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Representative Jimmy Panetta were featured guests at a Cedar Rapids fundraiser for Finkenauer’s campaign on November 19.

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Tax bill backed by Blum, Young, King skewed toward wealthiest Iowans

Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) joined most of their Republican colleagues in the U.S. House today to pass a tax bill that would greatly increase the federal deficit, conferring most of the benefits on corporations and people far wealthier than most Iowans. Tens of millions of low to moderate-income Americans would pay more in federal taxes if its provisions became law, because a number of tax credits and deductions would be scrapped or scaled back.

To cite just one example: ending a tax break for out-of-pocket medical expenses would have a “catastrophic effect on disabled people” as well as anyone who spends a substantial amount on chronic health conditions or fertility treatments.

Meanwhile, an estimated 203,000 Iowa children would be either fully or partially left out of the expanded Child Tax Credit included in the House bill. Repealing the estate tax, which applies “only to the value of an estate that exceeds $5.5 million per person ($11 million per couple),” would benefit about 70 Iowa families in 2018, some 0.2 percent of all estates.

House Republicans know their tax plan will cost many Americans more. For that reason, before bringing the bill to the floor–with no hearings–they waived a rule that “had been put in place to make it difficult to increase taxes.”

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Weekend open thread: Veterans Day do's and don'ts

Thanking a veteran is easy. Tackling problems that face veterans is hard.

At no time is that political reality more apparent than on the 11th day of the 11th month.

The usual expressions of respect and gratitude can be found in the latest batch of Veterans Day tweets by Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and Representatives Rod Blum (R, IA-01), Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02), David Young (R, IA-03), and Steve King (R, IA-04).

After the jump I’ve posted some concrete ways members of Congress could show they care about veterans. This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

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IA-01: If Rod Blum wasn't worried before, he should be now

Reviewing the Democratic “tidal wave” in Virginia on Tuesday, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report commented, “You can’t really look at tonight’s results and conclude that Democrats are anything other than the current favorites to pick up the U.S. House in 2018.” A backlash against President Donald Trump and Congressional Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act fueled strong Democratic turnout, sinking far more Virginia GOP state legislators than expected.

That’s not the only reason Representative Rod Blum should be feeling more nervous about winning a third term in Iowa’s first Congressional district.

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Chuck Grassley's odd reaction to the first Mueller indictments

Let’s start with the good news: despite being an early skeptic on the need for a special prosecutor to investigate possible collusion between Russian entities and President Donald Trump’s campaign, Senator Chuck Grassley told CNN’s Manu Raju today, “The president should let the special counsel do his job.”

Commenting further on Robert Mueller’s first indictments, Grassley said in a written statement that “it’s important to let our legal system run its course,” and that the “Judiciary Committee is continuing its work to ensure that the Justice Department and FBI are functioning free from inappropriate influence […].” As chair of that Committee, Grassley is better-placed than most Republicans to let the White House know Congress will not tolerate efforts to obstruct justice by firing Mueller before his investigation is complete.

The rest of Grassley’s news release focused on a small part of Mueller’s case against Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates. Seizing on that angle–failure by Manafort and Gates to register as foreign agents–allowed the senator to highlight his longstanding concerns about similar lawbreaking by Democratic consultants and lobbyists. Today’s statement continued Grassley’s pattern of focusing his investigative energy on “tangential subjects,” in an apparent effort “to minimize the culpability of Trump and his aides and to deflect attention from the core issues of the controversy.”

Grassley did not address a newly-disclosed guilty plea by a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser. The government’s “Statement of the Offense” charging George Papadopoulos with lying to the FBI, filed on October 5 but released today, lays out a damning timeline of attempts to connect Trump representatives with Russian officials. That document also indicates that Papadopoulos has been cooperating with investigators, who know more than what has been made public so far.

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