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Follow Your Congressional Reps on Social Media

Are you active on social media, even a little bit? Are you thinking about signing on?

Please follow the pages and accounts of your Congressional representatives.

Pull up the web pages of your three Congressional reps–your two senators and your house rep. Social media platform logos tend to show up at the top of the home page or the bottom. If they’re not there, try the Contact page.

Most members of Congress are on Facebook and Twitter. If they’re on other platforms and you want to follow them there, go right ahead. But don’t feel like you must follow them on every platform. Do what makes sense for you.

If any of your reps are not on social media, or aren’t on the platform you like best, call their offices and ask them to join. You can bet there’s an intern or entry-level staffer who’s been chewing the rep’s ear off, trying to make their case. If enough constituents call to ask them to get on social media, or on a specific platform, that might change their minds.

Following your reps on social media is worth it. It keeps you up to date on what they’re saying and doing, and lets you know when they might appear at an event happening near you. It lets you show your support for them. And it helps move toward a world in which members of Congress take messages that arrive through social media as seriously as requests that come over the phone or through postal mail.

But don’t forget that for now (early 2017), social media is the least effective way to speak to your reps. If you need to ask your members of Congress to do something, use the phone. Do not use social media. Your message will not get through to them.

If you’re not on social media at all, consider signing up to follow your reps. You can have a private account on Twitter, and you can keep strict privacy settings on your Facebook page.

If you’re not on social media at all and have no wish to be, sign up for their e-newsletters and postal mailings instead, if you haven’t already. You should be able to do this through their web sites.

 

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Tell Your MoCs to Make Trump Keep Watch on Homegrown White Terrorists

Call your members of Congress and ask them to make sure the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program keeps monitoring and prosecuting homegrown white terrorists.

Last month, the Trump administration announced plans to narrow the focus of a government anti-terrorism program run by the Department of Homeland Security.

The CVE covers homegrown terrorist threats as well as those hatched abroad. Trump and his minions floated the notion of changing the program’s name to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism” and focusing it on Muslim terrorists–seemingly redirecting the program from stopping Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. White racist groups exist, and they and their members have been plotting and committing terrorist acts. The most infamous recent atrocity on American soil was Dylann Roof’s murder of nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

Limiting the CVE to Islamic terrorists is a bad idea. Wittingly or not, Trump’s racist statements and his failure to quickly and strenuously condemn incidents such as the Quebec mosque shooting in January, where a young white man killed six, have emboldened  racists. Signaling that the federal government no longer sees attacking non-whites and non-Christians as terrorism will only encourage the sicker individuals among them to lash out.

Important note: Does your House rep sit on the House Homeland Security Committee? Do you have a senator on the Senate Committee for Homeland Security & Government Affairs? Then it’s that much more important for you to call about this issue. Check the committee rosters before calling:

 

House Homeland Security Committee:

https://homeland.house.gov/full_committee/

 

Senate Committee for Homeland Security & Government Affairs:

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/about

 

Sample script: “Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am calling to ask (House Rep/Senator Lastname) to push back against the Trump administration’s plan to narrow the focus of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism program. Trump evidently wants to change it to focus exclusively on what he calls “radical Islamic extremism.” Doing so would send a signal to the would-be Dylann Roofs of the world that they can attack non-white, non-Christian people and the federal government will look the other way. We need to focus on stopping and prosecuting terrorists regardless of what motivates them. Attacks by white racists can do as much damage, or more, as attacks by Muslims.”

 

Read an Independent article on the planned changes to the CVE:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-cut-white-supremacism-countering-violent-extremism-programme-neo-nazi-counter-extremism-a7558796.html

 

Read the Department of Homeland Security’s main landing page for the CVE program, while it still reflects its broader focus:

https://www.dhs.gov/countering-violent-extremism

 

Read about the suspect in the Quebec mosque shooting:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-mosque-attack-alexandre-bissonnette-1.3958559

 

Read about Dylann Roof’s attack on the Charleston church and his subsequent death penalty sentence:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/06/18/for-charlestons-emanuel-a-m-e-church-one-of-the-oldest-in-america-shooting-is-another-painful-chapter-in-long-history/?utm_term=.7c53fb65a5ab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Save This Tool for Tracking All the Laws and Executive Orders Trump Signs in 2017

It feels like Trump and his administration have been more active than a birthday party full of eight-year-olds hopped up on sugar and caffeinated soda and itching for a swing at the piñata.

Pinning down and understanding every law and executive order Trump has signed so far is almost a full-time job, but the team at Vice are up to the task.

Bookmark this web article that is tracking all the laws and executive orders Trump signs in 2017.

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/all-the-laws-and-executive-orders-trump-has-signed-so-far

The Vice staff have done a capital job of identifying each bill and executive order Trump signs and putting them in a larger context, stating plainly what each will do, and who they will effect. It also includes relevant links to related Vice stories.

 

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Self-advocacy 101: Find Your Congressional Representatives

FWIW: This is the first-ever post to OTYCD, uploaded on January 7, 2017.

Before you can start pushing back against Trump, you need to know who represents you in Congress.

Find out who your Congressional representatives are by plugging your zip code and your state into this web site:

http://whoismyrepresentative.com/

This web site is better for learning who stands for you in the House of Representatives (plug in your zip code and it will narrow the choices to two. The name that seems more familiar to you is probably your House rep):

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Once you have pinned down your two Senators and your House Rep, pull up their web pages. Scroll to the bottom. If their offices aren’t listed there, go to the Contact page and find them.

Pick the state office that is closest to you (*NOT the Washington D.C. one).

Find the phone number for that office.

Put it in your phone.

Repeat for your other two representatives.

Done!

* You can put the Washington, D.C. numbers in your phone, but call them last. You are far more likely to reach a real person if you call the district offices.

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Never Stop Demanding That Congress Investigate Trump’s Ties to Russia and His Violations of the Constitution

Trump and his minions have done, or tried to do, any number of horrible things. Most of them demanded an immediate answer. Others demanded ongoing attention.

Several people are speaking up to say the daily shenanigans are distracting us from focusing on the two issues that have the power to force Trump from office: His financial conflicts of interest, and the Russian hacking scandal, which should shed light on Trump’s curious connections to Putin.

To be fair, these issues have not been forgotten, just overshadowed. A team of lawyers from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is suing Trump over his violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause. Jerry Nadler, a house rep from New York who sits on the house judiciary committee, recently filed a resolution of inquiry into Trump, an early step on the road to impeachment. Members of Congress are pursuing bipartisan investigations into the Russian hacking scandal, despite Republican attempts to keep such queries under its party’s control (which would let them soft-pedal the findings).

But the blogger behind The Liberal Yell rightly points out that it’s on us, the citizens, to keep pressing Congress to stay on the two issues that could end Trump’s presidency, and we should support their efforts to do so.

See the blog below.

http://theliberalyell.com/focus-people-there-are-only-two-things-to-demand-of-congress-in-regards-to-trump/

To summarize: TLY asks us to stay firmly on these two issues, regardless of what other evils Trump looses. No matter what happens, do not lose sight of the need to look into Trump’s Emoluments clause violations and the importance of getting to the bottom of the Russian hacking.

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post for a great tool–a custom postcard demanding investigations into both issues, which you can download and print and mail and hand out to others.

Read about bipartisan efforts to investigate the Russian hacking scandal, and Republican resistance to it:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/02/02/senate-panel-investigate-russian-election-interference/97411482/

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/10/14220484/house-dems-bipartisan-probe-russian-hacking

http://www.snopes.com/mitch-mcconnell-blocked-investigating-russian-hacks/

Learn about New York House Representative Jerry Nadler’s filing of a resolution of inquiry into Trump, and its implications:

https://www.countable.us/articles/237-preliminary-impeachment-inquiry-filed-president-trump

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Protect America from Election Interference by Asking Your MoCs to Revive or Vote for These Bills

Ask your members of Congress (MoCs) to support or revive bills identified by Lawfareblog as measures that could protect America’s next big election from outside interference.

In his June 20, 2017 Lawfareblog piece How Congress Should Fight Election Interference, Dr. Ben Freeman identifies three bills–one live, two which died in previous sessions of Congress–that could help safeguard the country against meddling of the sort perpetrated by Russia during the 2016 election.

The first is S. 625, the Foreign Agents Modernization and Enforcement Act, which would force propaganda outlets such as Russia Television (better known as RT) to register as a foreign agent. The bill would also permit us to better scrutinize these entities by asking them where they get their money and who their friends are.

Here’s a sample script for calling your senators about S. 625:

If you’re represented by New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen or Indiana Republican Senator Todd Young, thank them for co-sponsoring the bill and tell them you wish it well.

If not, say something like this: “Dear Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname of town, zip code). I am calling to ask you to support S.625, the Foreign Agents Modernization and Enforcement Act. It’s a bipartisan bill, introduced by your colleagues Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Todd Young of Indiana, and it would close a loophole that allows propaganda outlets such as Russia Television to register as nonprofits instead of the foreign agents that they are. The bill would also allow us to ask RT where it gets its money and what foreign connections it has. Thank you for considering my request.”

The other two bills Freeman cites are dead bills that should be revived. The Close the Foreign Lobbying Loophole Act would have addressed and clarified many issues that ensnared Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort. It would also have outlawed the act of lobbying for a foreign power overseas without publicly disclosing that fact back here. Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced the bill, S.3123, in 2008 during the 110th Congress. If either of them represent you, please ask them to revive and resubmit it.

The other is the Ethics in Foreign Lobbying Act of 2016, aka H.R. 6057, which would have levied a fine of $2,000 for each violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). It was introduced by Ohio House Rep Marcy Kaptur in the 114th Congress. If she is your house rep, please call or email her and ask her to revive the bill.

 

Read Freeman’s Lawfareblog post:

https://www.lawfareblog.com/how-congress-should-fight-election-interference

 

Read Republican Senator Todd Young’s press release about S. 625, the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act:

https://www.young.senate.gov/content/americans-deserve-media-transparency-not-propaganda

 

See the GovTrack page on S. 625:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s625

 

See the GovTrack page on S. 3123, the Close the Foreign Lobbying Loophole Act:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/s3123

 

See a 2008 press release on S. 3123:

https://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/media-center/news-releases/schumer-mccaskill-introduce-legislation-to-close-foreign-lobbying-loopholes

 

See the GovTrack page on H.R. 6057, the Ethics in Foreign Lobbying Act of 2016:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr6057

 

Support Lawfareblog and the Lawfare Institute, which publishes it:

https://www.lawfareblog.com/support-lawfare

 

Support GovTrack:

https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?c=350193

 

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Fight the GOP Tax Bill, December 1 Update

Fight the GOP tax bill, as you have been doing.

Sarah Jane here. First, an apology. I was having technology hiccups with WordPress that prevented me from getting in here to update posts in the queue, and I was having life hiccups too (I have to do this blog in my free time, and I didn’t have much of any this week.)

As you know, this week has been crazy and tense. Lisa Murkowski and John McCain are both yeses on this thing, or at least they were on Thursday November 30.

Everything went extra pear-shaped last night when two things happened.

One, the Joint Committee on Taxation released its numbers, and they showed that the bill would cost us $1 trillion more than the GOP counted on.

Two, it became clear that the trigger that Tennessee Senator Bob Corker insisted on would not pass muster. The trigger would have raised taxes automatically if the economy failed to meet revenue projections assumed by the bill. The trigger was a terrible idea anyway–the government should spend more when the economy is limping and cut taxes when it’s doing well–but still. That was another blow that the Republicans could have avoided if they had, yanno, slowed down and spent the time and effort to write the bill properly and hold hearings that would have allowed them to comb out all the tangles before bringing it to the Senate floor.

The GOP had hoped to vote on the bill late on November 30. Instead, they ended up sending everyone home and planning to resume at 11 am today, December 1. Read more here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/2017/11/30/c2118302-d5e7-11e7-a986-d0a9770d9a3e_story.html?utm_term=.fdb832e31673

This is good news. It gives us more time to call and fight this wretched thing, which the GOP has loaded with a repeal of the Johnson amendment, which constrains political activity by churches, as well as a form of personhood language, couched in terms of giving fetuses tax benefits for saving for college. Here are the cites on those two inclusions:

Fetal personhood language in the bill:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/11/06/why_the_republican_tax_plan_gives_fetuses_the_right_to_save_for_college.html

Removing the Johnson amendment prohibitions:

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2017/11/29/johnson-amendment-nonprofits

Anyway, the point is–this bill, which was steaming toward passage, is derailed, and we need to take advantage of that. It’s still hugely unpopular. If we call, and get our friends to call, NOW, we could stop it.

Before you scroll down for your scripts, here’s a good update thread from the wee hours of December 1 from our friend Andy Slavitt (@aslavitt), who you should be following on Twitter:

BREAKING: McConnell has 14 hours left on his schedule to try to rewrite the tax bill. Talking to both sides. This has issues. Will tweet soon for those still awake and interested. Long day.

Here goes. This is still an uphill battle. I asked a D Senator & house member if there is a breath of life left & they both said “more.” 2/

Fundamental GOP problem is math. Most favorable interpretation is a $1 trillion increase in debt. 3/

Why do I make this claim? Because the House would never allow a cut that big. AND the House also wants to add ANOTHER $300B is costs.5/

House Rs are gong to insist on state and local tax (SALT) deduction is added back and that’s $300B. Corker and Flake must hold the line.6/

If Corker and Flake get on board the chances of this dying in conference go up. So there are 2 bites at the apple. Now… 7/

If Corker and Flake don’t get on board, then with only 50 votes, Susan Collins becomes critical. Therefore…8/

Senator Collins needs will make Corker’s problems worse. This is the math problem. So…9/

So after all the social engineering (personhood, pro-estate, arctic drilling, loopholes) to win votes, this no hearing, no expert, bad process bill has bad math. 10/

Sens Corker & Flake are insisting that taxes be cut in the amount of 1/2 of that— $500B. If they stick to that, this bill likely dies. 4/

 

So, yes, CALL YOUR SENATORS, and get your friends to call theirs, and it’s extra-urgent to call if you live in Tennessee, Arizona, or Maine, which are represented by Corker, Jeff Flake, and Susan Collins.

Language, information, and resources from previous days is below. Thanks all. Keep fighting the good fight.

We began daily updates on this topic back on November 3.

Please continue to call your MoCs to fight this craptastic bill. Scroll down for a script.

 

In case it isn’t clear from this: The bill is vulnerable, and McConnell is under pressure to get it as close to done as possible before the winner of the Alabama Senate special election is seated.

If you haven’t called to speak out against the GOP tax bill, call your senators and ask your friends and family in other states to call too.

Also, check this link from Indivisible to see if your MoCs are holding a Town Hall or other event where you can appear and ask them to oppose the bill:

http://act.indivisible.org/event/recess-townhall/search/

…And the Not One Penny folks have anti-Trump Tax Scam rallies planned from now until  December 10 at least.

Plug your zip code into the link below to find the event closest to you:

https://notonepenny.org/take-action/#events

Older text follows below but as noted, scroll down for the sample calling script. Target your senators, please.

 

The GOP feels terrible urgency to push through this tax bill for many reasons.

Pressure from donors is one (see link to a relevant story below).

The December 12 Senate special election in Alabama is another. With Republican candidate Roy Moore embattled and compromised, and Democratic candidate Doug Jones on the rise, the odds of the seat flipping blue and reducing the Republican Senate advantage to 51-49 is real.

But here is more good news for those who oppose this highly unpopular bill. The GOP is trying to get it done via reconciliation, which means they can afford to lose only three of their senators (all Democrats and both Independents are opposed–if they represent you and you haven’t yet called to thank them, please do).

Republican Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Susan Collins of Maine have voiced opposition to the bill. (Interesting point to remember–Collins was the one who sought and won the tax deduction for teachers who buy school supplies for their classrooms, and she succeeded in having the deduction made permanent just last year.)

Other potential ‘no’s who have been silent on the issue (at least as of November 18) are Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee, John McCain of Arizona, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

As the days pass, more jaw-droppingly bad aspects of this bill come to light. It’s almost as if Republican MoCs are trying to write a parody of the worst, most unpopular bill they could possibly propose, with tax breaks for private jets, golf courses, and hedge fund managers while taking them away from teachers, graduate students, the sick, the elderly, and the disabled. Except they’re really trying to pass the damn thing.

The Congressional Budget Office released stats that show if passed, the tax bill would force an immediate $25 billion cut to Medicare.

Per a Paul Krugman tweet from Nov 14:

This is awesome: passing the R tax cut would REQUIRE an immediate $25 billion cut in Medicare, plus $111 billion in other cuts (which isn’t legally possible). I.e., the whole exercise is illegal under Congress’ own rules

And Republican senators are also considering repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate within the tax bill, because why not try that again?

This bill is lousy. It blows a $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit, which sets the Republicans up to force unwanted Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA cuts down the line. It lightens the tax burden of the wealthy, and it does so at the expense of the rest of us. The only people who want to see that happen are a fraction of the one percent.

As mentioned in previous posts, the GOP bill would flat-out eliminate the estate tax, a tax that hits the exceptionally wealthy. The tax is also philosophically important. We’re Americans. We don’t want an aristocracy, we want a meritocracy. The estate tax nips aristocracy in the bud. We need to keep it.

The bill would also eliminate tax deductions for medical expenses, state and local taxes, interest on student loans, a tax break that helps teachers buy supplies for their classrooms, and a tax credit that encourages employers to hire military veterans. Tellingly, it keeps the carried interest provision, which allows managers of hedge funds and other financial funds and investment partnerships to be taxed at a lower rate.

In short: The GOP tax bill whacks you and pretty much everyone you know while fattening the bank accounts of people who are already insanely wealthy already, and it encourages the creation of more people like Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump, Jr., who were born on third base and genuinely think they hit a triple.

The thoroughgoing lousiness of the tax bill and the GOP desperation to push it through is why we at OTYCD are clearing the decks of scheduled new posts and asking you to focus solidly on opposing this every day until it is dead.

Call, call, call. Yell, yell, yell. Get your friends and family to do it too. We have to let our MoCs know this is wrong and we will not stand for it. 

And again, remember this when your incumbent MoCs are up for re-election. Having to dial for our lives every two or three months is Not On. Thank the Dems who have been doing their damnedest to hold together and raise the alarm. Punish the Republicans who are placing their mega-ultra-wealthy donors above their constituents.

 

Sample calling script: Dear (Senator Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, state). I am calling to voice my opposition to the GOP tax bill, which was unveiled on November 2 and passed the house on November 16. This bill is irresponsible and it benefits the exceptionally wealthy at the expense of every other class that pays income tax. It eliminates the estate tax while taking away tax deductions for medical expenses, student loan interest, state and local taxes, and deductions that teachers use when buying classroom supplies and that encourage employers to hire veterans. It also blows a $1.5 trillion dollar hole in the deficit. I am asking you to vote no on this bill. Thank you for listening.”

 

If you didn’t start following these first four people on Twitter during the Trumpcare fight, do so, and add three more tax experts as well:

@benwikler

@celeste_p

@aslavitt

@topherspiro

@sethhanlon

@michaelslinden

@lilybatch

Slavitt and Spiro primarily cover health care, but they’re covering the tax bill because it affects health care, too.

These folks, particularly the first two, will have news updates faster than OTYCD, which does one new post per day.

 

Other resources follow.

 

Check out the Trump Tax Tool Kit:

https://trumptaxtoolkit.org

 

Check out Not One Penny:

https://notonepenny.org

 

Another note related to Not One Penny: Do you live in New York State? The folks at Not One Penny are holding anti-tax bill rallies on November 20 in Oswego and Auburn, N.Y., and they might be adding more as we type this.

Plug your zip code into the link below to find the event closest to you:

https://notonepenny.org/take-action/#events

 

And here is a bundle of links to relevant stories:

 

The GOP tax bill retains a deduction for golf course owners:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-09/one-tax-loophole-untouched-so-far-the-trump-golf-course-break

 

A majority of the general public seems to recognize that the GOP tax cuts favor the wealthy:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/60-percent-americans-trump-tax-plan-benefit-wealthy/story?id=50891221

 

The GOP has an extra-strong motivation to pass something, anything, in an attempt to please their donors:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/gop-donors-to-gop-lawmakers-yeah-we-will-cut-you-off-absent-tax-reform

 

Senator John McCain shows his skepticism by calling for normal order, which hasn’t been happening with this tax bill:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-26/mccain-calls-for-bipartisan-tax-effort-just-like-on-health-care

 

White House adviser Gary Cohn likens the earned benefits of Medicare and Social Security to “welfare,” which it is not:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/09/gary-cohn-trickle-down-is-good-for-the-economy.html

 

Still more links to various stories about the GOP tax bill and assorted aspects of the bill:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/11/02/winners-and-losers-in-the-gop-tax-plan/?utm_term=.d004e6b965c6

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-finance-202/2017/11/03/the-finance-202-wall-street-escapes-gop-tax-cutters-unscathed-so-far/59fb725730fb0468e7654095/?utm_term=.7a124f4781ab

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/11/02/teachers-spend-nearly-1000-a-year-on-supplies-under-the-gop-tax-bill-they-will-no-longer-get-a-tax-deduction/?utm_term=.dc599785707e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-gops-bill-is-a-sensible-framework–but-still-a-deficit-exploding-tax-cut-for-the-rich-and-corporations/2017/11/02/28b3688c-bffe-11e7-959c-fe2b598d8c00_story.html?utm_term=.62b5bdd7bb78

https://www.axios.com/house-gop-keeps-tax-loophole-for-hedge-fund-managers-2505477999.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/02/who-pays-more-trump-gop-tax-plan-244472

http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/02/pf/college/house-tax-bill-student-loan-interest-deduction/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/house-gops-evolving-tax-bill-leaves-retirement-plan-intact/2017/11/01/755e7906-bf77-11e7-9294-705f80164f6e_story.html?utm_term=.acb66b4fc0c4

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/the-house-republican-tax-cut-is-a-failure-on-its-own-terms.html

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/the-republican-tax-plan-is-political-suicide.html