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Archive → May 22nd, 2017

Washington wants the president to be a lame duck by way of manufactured controversy

Washington is on fire

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Get ready for another major dust-up over the Trump administration’s attempts to replace Obamacare this week as the Congressional Budget Office releases numbers that are likely to make some eyes bulge. Meanwhile, this big, dumb controversy involving Trump, Russia and the FBI certainly isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Unfortunately for Trump supporters, it’s looking like Washington wants the president to be a lame duck by way of manufactured controversy.

The fate of President Donald Trump’s Obamacare repeal plan will be a little clearer by Wednesday after the Congressional Budget Office reveals the replacement plan’s “score” before it heads to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was rushed through the House so quickly earlier this month with several changes that the legislation passed the House without receiving a final CBO analysis, which is key to informing lawmakers and U.S. voters of the expected final cost of the law change.

Already facing a steep uphill battle in the Senate, the CBO’s analysis will give lawmakers in the Senate a clearer view of what sort of changes they may want to make to the legislation.

In the Senate, lawmakers will face a challenge of pleasing conservatives worried that the Trump repeal plan isn’t actually the full repeal that was promised by the administration and Democrats concerned that the new plan, while still a lite version of Obamacare, would cut healthcare benefits for a large number of Americans.

As reported by CNN Money:

[T]he House is waiting until it receives the new score to send the bill to the Senate to make sure it conforms to Congressional rules — in particular, that the legislation meets its savings target of $2 billion over 10 years.

The most recent agency review of the House bill found that it would reduce federal deficits by $150 billion between 2017 and 2026. (An earlier CBO score found that the legislation would reduce deficits by $337 billion, but lawmakers then changed several tax and Medicaid provisions that eliminated some of the savings.)

The most damning finding of the initial CBO report was that 24 million more people would be uninsured in 2026 under the GOP bill than under Obamacare. An estimated 52 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million if Obamacare remained in place.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is set to continue having to play defense this week over continuing controversy concern alleged ties between the president and his team and Russia.

The New York Times on Friday published a story claiming that Trump suggested to top Russian officials that his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey would improve the relationship between the two nations during a meeting in the Oval Office earlier this month.

More on that: Trump to Russians: Comey was a nut job

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is set to speak with Comey about the issue for the first time during a meeting Monday.

During a Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanoupolis, Chaffetz said he isn’t convinced the NY Times story is true. But the lawmaker added that if any investigation turns up evidence of Russian misconduct during the election, Trump must respond.

“I hope it’s not true. I don’t know if that was said or not said. I would like the president to beat them over the head with the fact that if they did, the Russians, did interfere in any way, shape, or form, how wrong that is and how outraged America is on both sides of the aisle,” he said. 

The lawmaker added that Americans won’t know for sure what to believe until the Justice Department concludes its investigation into the matter.

“We have to step back and let the investigators and the FBI and others do their job,” Chaffetz said. “We’re not in a position to go individual by individual and do these type of interviews. We have to let those professionals in the Department of Justice do that.”

Political conversations Sunday also weighed heavily on whether the Trump administration is changing its tune with regard to Saudi Arabia as Trump conducted his first international trip since taking office in the country this weekend. 

Trump, who criticized the Saudi human rights record heavily during the campaign, was criticized by some observers for focusing on arms and investment deals during the trip.

Fox  News Sunday political analyst Juan Williams said of the trip: “I’m taken aback because you can see we are emphasizing deals and not diplomacy, not only president Obama but president George W. Bush made deals with the Saudis and it was just part of the deals, that’s what you’re doing and so when you talk about president trump emphasizing jobs and deals, it comes at some cost to us because the lack of human rights attention, the lack of understanding that the Saudis are implicated in anything from 9/11 to support for the Wahabis, radical Islam to the Madrasus that preach hate of Israel, Jews, hatred of the Shiite…”

Joining the same program, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) praised the president… which is probably not a great sign for anyone who voted for Trump over concerns about Hillary Clinton’s close ties to the House of Saud.

I think the trip so far has been excellent. I think the Sunni world, particularly or traditional friends there are encouraged. Because of the restrained if not estranged relations between the previous administration and so, I think it is successful. I think it is important. There is no doubt that if we are going to impede the Iranian continued efforts to exert a significant strength in the region that this is an important step forward.”

The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum, meanwhile, excoriated the Trump visit to Saudi Arabia as “bizarre and un-American.” And she asks a few pretty good questions…

Source: Will County News

High corporate, property taxes stunt job growth in Illinois By Michael Carroll

Studies: High corporate, property taxes stunt job growth in Illinois

  • By Michael Carroll

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

Illinois imposes a higher tax burden on its businesses than most of its Midwest neighbors, according to newly released economic data that some observers say proves the state lags in attracting businesses.

An April Anderson Economic Group study ranked the tax burdens on businesses for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Illinois businesses paid 9.4 percent of their profits in taxes to the state in 2015, while businesses in most of Illinois’ neighboring states paid percentages in the range of 7 to 8.7 percent, according to the study.

Only Minnesota, with a rate of 9.7 percent, was higher in its business tax burden.

“Taxes are certainly not No. 1 on the list when businesses are considering location,” Jason Horwitz, a senior consultant with the Anderson Economic Group who helped to prepare the report, told Illinois News Network.

But Horwitz pointed out that the state’s corporate income tax, at 7.75 percent, is among the highest in the nation. This might not be a major factor in a business’s decision to locate in the Chicago area, which has a great deal of talent and infrastructure, but it can bear on businesses considering to locate their operations further south in Illinois, he said.

A lower corporate tax in a neighboring state could lure a business to locate there instead of the southern areas of Illinois, Horwitz said, which is indicative of downstate Illinois’ stagnant job growth.

The study also makes clear that of the taxes imposed on businesses around the nation, the corporate income tax is a smaller burden than two other taxes. Topping the state tax burdens for businesses is the property tax and general sales tax.

A recent blog post by Illinois Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Aurora, said that Illinois businesses are moving out of state or closing down due to high property taxes in the state. A report by the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit tax policy institute based in Washington, found that on a ranking of states with the best business climates, Illinois was 46th based on overall property tax burden. A recent WalletHub study found Illinois had the second highest property taxes in the country.

The small business climate in Illinois is chock-full of uncertainty, according to Wheeler, who expressed concern that state legislators are proposing legislation that is hostile to business.

“Small business has been called the backbone of the American economy for good reason,” the lawmaker said in a recent blog post. “Small businesses create more than two-thirds of the net new jobs and employ more than half of the country’s workforce.”

An April briefing report by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, which was created by the General Assembly to study economic trends, found a dichotomy in the state’s economic performance of late. Although unemployment fell to just under 5 percent in March, nonfarm payroll employment also declined for three straight months, while recent gains in manufacturing jobs have dropped, the report said.

And eight of the state’s metropolitan regions reported a loss in payroll jobs between March 2016 and March of this year.

“Illinois is likely to continue to lag both the nation and Midwest with widely divergent trends in its metro areas as population declines and manufacturing employment weakens and jobs move out of state,” the commission’s report said.

Horwitz emphasized that the Anderson report’s numbers should be taken in a nuanced manner. North Dakota and Wyoming are shown to have high business tax burdens, but that is due more to geography and natural resources, he said, noting that the two states have severance taxes on oil production.

A key point to take away from the study is that businesses pay a variety of taxes far beyond the corporate income tax, Horwitz said.

For many business owners in Illinois, the reports on Illinois’ tax burden numbers ring true.

“The tax burden is so severe here in Illinois and so intense and, frankly, unfair that it retards job growth,” Al Panico, the president and CEO of The Line Group Inc. in Arlington Heights, told Illinois News Network.

Panico, whose company manufactures metal parts for multiple industries, sees a direct correlation between the state’s higher business tax burden and businesses moving out of the state. The corporate income tax can add thousands of dollars to businesses’ annual tax burdens, according to Panico.

“There are other reasons businesses move out of Illinois as well,” he said, citing high workers’ compensation rates paid by companies, pension fund financial burdens and other types of taxes, such as Cook County’s soda tax.

The state needs to get a balanced budget, come up with a way to cap property taxes and reform the pension system to cut costs, Panico said.

“The first thing they need to do is workers’ compensation reform,” he said.

Source: Will County News

Illinois Department of Natural Resources bringing back alligator gar

Illinois Department of Natural Resources bringing back alligator gar

  • Illinois News Network
  • May 21, 2017

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

Illinois is renewing efforts to reintroduce the locally extinct alligator gar to the state’s water system.

The long, cylindrical fish with a long beak used to be found in Illinois but was extirpated, with the last recorded catch in 1966.

Dan Stephenson, chief of fisheries for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said his division is part of a program being given alligator gar “fry,” or juvenile fish, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The fry are given to us,” Stephenson said. “We raise them, some in our hatcheries, and also we have two cooperating private hatcheries that really think it’s neat and interesting to try to bring back the alligator gar.”

The Illinois DNR started restocking the alligator gar in 2009 before taking a few years off. It resumed last year by stocking approximately 1,600 alligator gars. The state received this year’s supply in May and will raise them until September, then release them.

“We put them in there about 12-16 inches, and let them grow for a couple of years, hopefully,” Stephenson said. “And once they get bigger, then if you happen to get flooding, then they’ll move out into the river and really disperse pretty widely.”

The Illinois DNR hopes to create a population of alligator gar that is attractive to fishers.

According to Stephenson, the alligator gar can grow to 6 or 7 feet, and the record weight is more than 300 pounds.

“They get so big they make quite a trophy for the anglers to go after,” he said. “We have an opportunity to bring back a fish that’s extirpated — you know, extinct in Illinois — that’s really pretty neat to be able to do that.”

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Stephenson emphasized that the project will take time.

“We know that to create a self-sustaining fish population is going to be difficult,” Stephenson said. “The females aren’t sexually mature until they’re 11 years old. This is really a long-term project. We’re talking decades if this works at all.”

Stephenson noted that the effort has minimal costs associated with it, and that fishing licenses, not taxpayers, help pay for any expenses.

“We’re going to do this every year as long as the Fish and Wildlife Service will give us the fry,” Stephenson said.

Three other types of gar still exist in Illinois: the shortnose, longnose and spotted gar. The alligator gar population is thriving in southern states from Florida to Texas. Stephenson said alligator gar do not pose any threat to residents.

Source: Will County News

Homer 33C encourages students to “keep the learning going”

News Release
Homer CCSD 33C
Goodings Grove Luther J. Schilling William E. Young William J. Butler
Hadley Middle Homer Jr. High
Contact:
Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager
cbrautigam@homerschools.org
| 708-226-7628
reading is fun.jpg
For Immediate Release:
May 22, 2017
Homer 33C encourages students to “keep the learning going”
Summer may be a good time to relax and hang out with friends, but it’s
also a great time to read something for fun.
It’s a message resonating throughout Homer School District 33C as
students approach the last day of school.
“We want you to enjoy your summer,” teachers tell their students in a
video being shared on social media. “We also want you to keep reading.
You’ve learned so much this year; keep it going all summer.”
According to a three-year study by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville,
students who read over the summer tend to gain a month of reading
proficiency while those who do not read lose two to three months of reading
development.
So, as the last day of school approaches, teachers throughout Homer 33C
are encouraging students to pick up a book, magazine or newspaper and
“keep the learning going.”
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B14EHGz8GJ9UT1kyTk56Q2RfMzA/view
“We hope students use some of their free time this summer to engage in
reading by choosing books they will enjoy,” said Homer Junior High School
English Language Arts teacher Shannon Schroeder. “We’re hoping to instill a
​love of reading for pleasure, and summer is a great time to escape into a
good book.”
At Homer Jr. High, students are being encouraged to join the school’s
Summer Reading Program by considering their Lexile when choosing a book,
and recording what they’ve read by filling out a Google form.
Those who participate will be entered in a drawing for exciting prizes.
They’ll also be recognized in a variety of ways.
At the elementary level, students are being challenged to read a certain
number of minutes or a certain number of books during the summer months.
Those who complete the summer reading challenge will be rewarded with a
special school celebration when classes resume in the fall.
As the video concludes: “When you get back (from summer break), you’ll
be ready to learn and grow.”
Like us on Facebook at
https://www.facebook.com/homer33c?
fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Source: Will County News

Trump News May 22, 2017

Watch a recap of President Donald J. Trump’s first two days abroad:

TODAY’S EVENTS

9:30 AM LOCAL / 2:30 AM EDT: President and First Lady Trump depart Riyadh, Saudi Arabia en route to Tel Aviv, Israel

1:20 PM LOCAL / 6:20 AM EDT: President Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with President Reuven Rivlin of Israel

1:55 PM LOCAL / 6:55 AM EDT: President Trump gives remarks with President Rivlin of Israel

2:15 PM LOCAL / 7:15 AM EDT: President and First Lady Trump visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

3:25 PM LOCAL / 8:25 AM EDT: President and First Lady Trump visit the Western Wall

6:00 PM LOCAL / 11:00 AM EDT: President Trump meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel

7:25 PM LOCAL / 12:25 PM EDT: President Trump gives remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu – Watch Live

7:30 PM LOCAL / 12:30 AM EDT: President and First Lady Trump have dinner with Prime Minister and Mrs. Netanyahu

4:30 PM: Vice President Pence participates in a series of meetings with lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol

POTUS ABROAD

On Saturday, May 21, 2017, President Trump and King Salman participated in the signing ceremony for the Joint Strategic Vision Statement for the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, worth $110 billion in defense capabilities.

On Sunday, May 22, 2017, President Trump delivered remarks at the Arab Islamic American Summit where he gave his vision for “peace, security, and prosperity in this region and all throughout the world.”

Today, President Trump is in Israel where he will meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Follow the President’s trip abroad at WH.gov/potus-abroad and on Twitter at #POTUSAbroad @WhiteHouse.

President Donald Trump waves as he and First Lady Melania Trump arrive, Saturday, May 20, 2017, to King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead). See more photos of the President’s trip abroad on Facebook and Flickr.

WHITE HOUSE UPDATES

President Trump proclaimed on Friday the third Saturday of each May as Armed Forces Day. The President noted the nearly 70 year history of our Nation setting aside one day to recognize the great debt we owe to the men and women who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

President Trump announced his intent to nominate K.T. McFarland as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore.

WHAT WE ARE READING

“Trump said during his travels in recent days, he has found ‘new reasons for hope.’‘We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people,’ Trump said in his remarks.”The Hill

“President Trump Sunday in a highly-anticipated speech to Muslim leaders during his first foreign trip called for unity between the U.S. and Middle Eastern nations in the fight to ‘stamp out extremism.’ “Fox News

“Trump’s speech brought welcome relief to his Arab audience after eight years of Obama’s blindness to Iranian and terrorist threats.New York Post

Source: Will County News