Good morning! This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Friday, January 12, 2018.
1. In the ‘hole
- “Ugh.” That was the unmistakable, guttural sound coming from Congressional Republicans Thursday when, amid promising bipartisan negotiations on an immigration agreement, President Donald Trump belittled, dismissed and insulted Haiti, El Salvador and African countries with piercing, unnecessary vulgarity.
- “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?,” the president was quoted asking a bi-partisan group at the White House. “Why do we need more Haitians… Take them out.”
- The White House did not deny the comments, but rather defended the president’s general position on immigration. Trump himself appeared to double down on his remarks this morning on Twitter.
WHY IT MATTERS
- Trump was THIS close to delivering on his top campaign promise – to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Republicans and Democrats in Congress – with significant input and leadership from the president himself – have been making real progress toward an immigration deal that included funding a border wall in exchange for a path-to-residency solution for illegal immigrants who were brought here as children.
- Trump’s comments appear to have done great damage to those negotiations.
- The White House and conservatives were having a really good news week! The economy is growing like gangbusters, thanks in part to a tax reform package that is beginning to yield real results.
- Before Trump’s comments surfaced, the gaffe of the week surely was going to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who described raises, bonus and other employee benefits resulting from tax reform “crumbs” and “really pathetic.”
- But, instead of being able to pounce on comments like that and drive home a winning message of economic opportunity for working Americans, Republicans had to once again grapple with an unforced error from the Commander-in-Chief.
- Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), herself the daughter of Haitian immigrants,called on the president to apologize, saying the comments were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.”
IS TRUMP RIGHT?
- Fox News host Tucker Carlson gave the president credit for his candor, saying, “President Trump said something that almost every single person in America actually agrees with” and that the countries mentioned are actually “dangerous,” “dirty,” and “poor.”
- All that may be true. Abandoning political correctness and “telling it like it is” is one of the primary reasons Trump is president right now.
- But, when brutal honesty starts hindering your ability to actually get things done, it’s a problem.
- It’s what happens when keeping it real goes wrong.
2. Tax reform wins keep coming
- This is not what “Armageddon” is supposed to look like.
- The hits keep coming from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as more major American companies announce positive news they say results from the tax reform package.
- WALMART announced it would raise its minimum wage, offer bonuses, and provide new employee benefits. However, the good news was tempered with the subsequent announcement that more than 60 Sam’s Club locations would be closing. Walmart is Alabama’s largest employer.
- Fiat-Crystler announced it is moving its truck production facility from Mexico to Michigan, bringing 2,500 jobs back to the United States. The car company also said it would provide $2,000 bonuses to 60,000 American employees as a result of its savings from tax reform.
- And finally, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the IRS will issue new withholding tables that will result in Americans seeing more money in their paychecks. As many as 90 percent of Americans are expected to see a bump in take home pay as a result of the tax reform package.
3. Alabama’s Report Card
- After many delays, Alabama schools finally have a report card.
- Collectively, we got a C+. Read Trish Powell Crain’s report on AL.com for more details on how we arrived there.
- MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, each individual school in the state now has a report card of its own.
- Thanks to an impressive new dashboard that went live yesterday, parents can look up any school in any district to see how they perform in an easy-to-understand format.
- The move toward publishing schools’ letter grade report cards has irked many in the education establishment who say school performance is complicated and not easy to communicate on a A-B-C-D-F grade scale. They are probably right that it isn’t easy. However, don’t parents and taxpayers deserve to know the truth about public school performance?
- I once heard former Florida Governor Jeb Bush say that of all the policy changes that helped spur his state’s incredible education transformation, implementing an easy-to-understand report card for school performance was the single most important.
- Why? Because once parents understood exactly how their children’s schools were really performing, they began demanding better. And nothing – not campaign promises from politicians or the best intentions of education officials – nothing is more powerful toward spurring real change at the local level than informed and determined parents.
- This policy change is long overdue in Alabama. Congratulations to Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur for seeing her legislative victory from five years ago finally become a reality.
- Congratulations as well to the Alabama Department of Education for delivering a simple, user-friendly product.
4. Alabama Senate Republicans Announce Agenda
- The Alabama Senate Republican Caucus announced its 2018 legislative agenda Thursday.
- As AL.com’s Mike Cason reports, the agenda includes a tax cut targeted toward middle class families, a crackdown on child sex trafficking and enforcing stricter work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
- Brian Lyman of The Montgomery Advertiser explained how the proposed tax cuts might impact the state.
- YellowHammer News’ Brendan Kirby offered a rundown of legislative activity for Thursday.
- The Legislature reconvenes next Tuesday.
(Note, all these headlines are available in web form here.)
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Alabama Senate GOP agenda includes income tax adjustment.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Jeff Sessions pledges new look into old administration’s shutdown of drug investigation.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – State Senator hopes to spur rural broadband development in Alabama with incentive program
DOTHAN EAGLE – Now it’s time to invest in Alabama.
AL.COM – Alabama flu outbreak declared emergency: Schools close, hospitals reschedule surgeries.
AL.COM – Doug Jones cosponsors bill to renew CHIP funding.
AL.COM – Gulf Shores fish kill leaves locals holding their noses.
AL.COM – Toyota-Mazda incentive package tops $800 million, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle says.
AL.COM – Ivey, Battle already campaigning on new Toyota-Mazda jobs.
AL.COM – How did Huntsville land Toyota-Mazda plant? By failing in the past.
AL.COM – Birmingham area hospitals over capacity due to ‘major flu situation’.
AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey joins push for statewide regulations for Uber, similar companies.
AL.COM – As state grapples with mental health lawsuits, more funding could be on the way.
AL.COM – North Carolina offered $1.5 billion in incentives to Toyota-Mazda.
AL.COM – Birmingham now in ‘middle of diamond’ among Toyota-Mazda, other automakers.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Walt Maddox: The picture Ivey painted of the state was fiction.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – State still behind in LGBT protection as lawmakers return to Montgomery, LGBT group says.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Columnist Joey Kennedy: The real State of the State.
DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily: North Alabama enjoys Huntsville growth.
DECATUR DAILY – Racial divisions continue 50 years after King’s assassination.
GADSDEN TIMES – Absence of distractions a positive for Legislature.
ANNISTON STAR – Proposed bill would allow license holders to provide emergency contact information.
ANNISTON STAR – When Alabama goes all in.
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