Monday Report from Representative Rick Nolan

 

GOP Tax Bill Promises A Pot of Gold for the Rich


Middle class Americans are making it clear that their idea of tax reform is not the Republican plan  of more tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy multi-national corporations.

Dear Friend,

The so-called Republican tax “reform” plan promises relief to the middle class - but it actually delivers a bonanza to the super rich. Our Nation needs real tax reform that benefits the middle class, reduces the deficit, requires millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, and discourages huge corporations from moving good paying American jobs overseas. But that’s not what the Trump-GOP tax plan does. Not by a long shot.

In fact, according to the highly regarded Tax Policy Center, the plan Republicans offered last week would boost taxes for one in three middle class families, blow up the deficit by $5.1 trillion, and exempt the money U.S. multi-national corporations amass overseas.

By 2017, the richest one percent of Americans would receive 80 percent of the individual benefits – including $1.1 billion for the Trump family. And by repealing the estate tax, Republicans would provide a handful of wealthy families – the richest of the super rich – with a windfall stretching into the tens of billions of dollars.

Moreover, as the national deficit explodes to more than $25 trillion, Republicans would surely attempt to raid Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – and drastically cut education, health care, medical research, transportation, infrastructure and human development in order to pay for it.

In short, this Republican plan is not tax reform, and it belongs in the dumpster right beside their failed bills to take health insurance away from 31 million Americans. It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to put partisan politics aside and begin working on a bipartisan tax plan that benefits the middle class, reduces income inequality, creates more good paying jobs and moves our Nation forward. That will be my focus as this tax debate takes shape.

We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.

Sincerely,
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Nolan’s Rural Broadband Campaign Picks Up Steam 


Click on the photo above to hear me explain why it’s so critically important to extend high-speed rural broadband to 23 million underserved people across rural America.

Across rural America, 21st Century high speed broadband is a life-link for farms and small businesses, health care, education, and for millions of people who need to stay in communication with their families and friends. But rural America is getting shortchanged, and we need to fix that situation with a plan as sweeping in scope as Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal initiatives that established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the Rural Telephone Administration during the last century. 

With that goal in mind, Our “New Deal” broadband legislation to connect some 23 million rural Americans to 21st Century high speed broadband Internet service got a big boost last week as Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate announced support for the effort.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, we put forth a plan to expand our original bill, and provide $40 billion in direct federal investments to upgrade and provide new service in the countryside. The money would be directed toward small rural communities, local governments, co-ops and other entrepreneurial providers who would compete to ensure that taxpayer funds are used efficiently to provide everyone with high speed Internet service, regardless of where they live. 


GOP “Health Care” Debacles Prove Bad Process Produces Bad Public Policy


The so-called Republican “health care” bill failed because it would have harmed some 21 million Americans by taking away their health care - and also because it did not move through Congress under the traditional system of Regular Order - where every bill and every amendment is fully debated in committee and on the floor of the House and Senate prior to a vote.

Bad process produces bad public policy. That’s a one-sentence obituary for the string of failed Republican attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and take health insurance away from up to 31 million Americans. The latest and perhaps worst of the lot was the “Graham-Cassidy” bill. Concocted quickly from behind closed doors, and with no input from health care experts or the public, the measure couldn’t even muster a vote in the Senate last week after key GOP Senators broke ranks in frustration and disgust over the bill and the lack of bipartisan process behind it.

Republican Senator John McCain put it into a nutshell when he explained, “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and (we) have not yet really tried." 

Make no mistake – these plans by President Trump and Republican leaders to scrap the entire health care system were programmed to fail from the start because they did not follow the time honored system of Regular Order, where legislation is thoroughly debated through the committee process to find areas of agreement. And where every amendment and good idea is considered on the floor of the House and Senate under an open rule.

Bad process produces bad public policy – and Regular Order produces good public policy.  That’s the lesson Republicans should have learned from their string of failures to work with Democrats and finally get health care right for the American people.


With 3 Million Americans in Need, Administration’s Hurricane Aid for Puerto Rico is a Disaster


The Trump Administration has failed miserably and unconscionably in providing assistance to hundreds of thousands of American citizens devastated by hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.

I have urged President Trump to immediately order the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to airdrop urgently needed supplies to remote areas of hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. The United Nations has executed many such missions in Africa and around the world, and there is no reason why our own U.S. military can’t do the same for American citizens desperately in need of food, water and medicine in Puerto Rico.

By any measure, the Trump Administration’s response to the ongoing catastrophe in Puerto Rico has been unconscionably slow, poorly planned and not nearly adequate to meet the needs of some three million U.S. citizens. The excuses, accusations and blame flying between the White House, FEMA and the government of Puerto Rico are no substitute for lifesaving help that should have been immediately forthcoming – just as it was after the hurricanes Maria and Harvey that hit Florida and Texas earlier this fall. 


Little Falls, Minnesota Leads National Model to Curb America’s Opioid Crisis


With the CHI St. Gabriel’s leadership team, pictured from left to right are Dr. Kurt Devine, CHI St. Gabriel’s President Lee Boyles, Foundation Director Kathy Lange, and Dr. Heather Bell.

Little Falls, Minnesota has become a model for the Nation in demonstrating how to address opioid painkiller abuse that kills some 33,000 Americans every year. In fact, there is probably no more innovative or successful an intervention program than the one being undertaken by CHI St. Gabriel’s Health in Little Falls. The focus in on closely monitoring prescriptions, working with doctors and patients to seek alternatives to opioids, and weaning users from these powerful drugs whenever possible.

Last week, Senator Al Franken and I sponsored packed Capitol Hill briefings where team leaders from CHI St. Gabriel’s explained how their program has brought doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, law enforcement officials, educators and home health professionals together to achieve remarkable results.

In Little Falls, pharmacies have experienced a 23 percent decline in prescriptions for controlled substances, and 324 patients have stopped using them entirely. In the first eight months alone, pain went from the number one reason people were being admitted to the Emergency Room to not even ranking in the top 20.

All told, some 370,000 fewer opioids and other controlled substances have entered the community since the program began – a savings of about $2.6 million every year for patients. These achievements are nothing short of groundbreaking, providing real hope for getting the opioid abuse crisis under control across our Nation. 


Nolan Leads Measure for Safe, Affordable Housing Across Indian Country


Tens of thousands of Native Americans still live in homes that are dangerous and substandard. Our legislation to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act recognizes and respects the importance of tribal sovereignty by empowering tribes to take the lead in removing barriers to safe and affordable housing and fostering healthy families and communities.

Fulfilling our federal treaty requirements to help provide safe and affordable Indian housing is critical as Native Americans here in Minnesota and throughout our Nation work hard to build prosperity and opportunity for their communities. So last week, I joined a number of my colleagues in introducing legislation to reauthorize the bipartisan Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) – a measure that has helped to improve housing for people across Indian Country for more than 20 years.

Reflecting six years of work in cooperation with tribes and Native organizations, our bill streamlines expensive bureaucracy and red tape that has hampered Indian housing programs in the past. Moreover, the measure recognizes and respects the importance of tribal sovereignty by empowering tribes to take the lead in removing barriers to safe and affordable housing, and fostering healthy families and communities. When Americans in need succeed, we all benefit.  That’s what this Indian housing legislation is really all about. 

 


 

Flying High and Crashing Hard, HHS Secretary Price Resigns 

Tom Price, the now former Secretary of Health and Human Services, flew high on the taxpayers’ dime, and then crashed hard in disgrace. Price’s resignation last week followed revelations that he and his staff spent more than a million federal dollars taking luxury private jets to events they could have reached via coach on commercial airlines for a fraction of the cost. 

Price’s blatant disregard for taxpayers’ hard earned dollars, and his bad judgment, are simply mind-boggling. But quite frankly, they pale in comparison to the President’s own spending habits – tens of millions of taxpayer dollars using Air Force One to fly to his golf clubs in Florida and New Jersey and to thinly disguised campaign rallies all over the Nation. It’s something for the president to consider next time he calls for “fiscal restraint” in proposing drastic and unnecessary cuts for environmental protection, education, medical research, transportation and a host of other efforts to foster human development across our Nation.


Our Week in DC


I had a good meeting with representatives of the St. Paul District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, receiving an update on projects important to Minnesota and the 8th District. Thanks to Col. Sam Calkins and his team for the briefing!


About a dozen Minnesota Head Start parents and leaders were in Washington last week for their National Parent Training and Leadership Conference. As a former Head Start Director, I was delighted to meet with members of the group and discuss our efforts to promote more funding and resources for this outstanding service to our children and families. 


Members of the Minnesota Credit Union Network stopped by to discuss their work in serving more than 1.7 million members throughout our state. 


Former California Congressman Tony Coelho and I shared a few moments together before I had the honor of introducing him to the 9th Annual Lung Cancer Alliance Summit Breakfast last week. Tony has been a tireless advocate for medical research and patients' rights, and we worked together during my first period of service in Congress on legislation to spread awareness of the barriers handicapped people face in their daily life. 


Aitkin County Commissioner Anne Marcotte and Lake County Commissioner Rich Sve stopped by to discuss a number of issues relative to mineral exploration and forest management in our region. 


It was an honor to welcome Canada's new Consul General, Khawar Nasim, to our office last week to discuss, among other things, the important trade relationship between our two great nations. Canada is Minnesota's 8th District's largest trading partner. 


Charles Skinner, co-president of Lutsen Mountain Ski Area, was in town last week for a meeting of the National Ski Areas Association Board. We discussed a wide range of economic development issues important to Cook County and our entire 
region. 


A delegation of Northern Minnesota school officials was in town last week representing the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, and as a former teacher, I was delighted to meet with them and listen to their concerns. Their association represents children residing on Indian lands, military children, children residing in assisted housing, and children whose parents are civilian, but work on or live on federal properties. 


It was great to spend some time with Chipper Johnson, President and CEO of Hoover Construction in Virginia, MN, and other members of the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota. In particular, we discussed infrastructure investment, tax reform, and my lead role in working to reauthorize Perkins college loan assistance. 

Our Week in Duluth


District Director Jeff Anderson attended the annual Duluth Community Action luncheon.  Community Action’s mission is to end poverty in northern Minnesota.  Pictured here is Featured Guest and Community Action Board Member Daletta Higgins speaking about how Community Action helped her escape poverty.

Our Week in Hinckley




The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hosted a meeting in Hinckley on options for the dam on the Grindstone River. The DNR would prefer to remove the dam and let dam take it's natural course. Another option would be to replace the dam, and a third option would be to install what's called a Rock Arch Rapids. A number of residents attended and their concerns and ideas will all be made part of the official record and the ongoing discussion process. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended on my behalf.

Our Week in Side Lake


About 30 local residents, community leaders, and elected officials attended at meeting of the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners last week in Side Lake. Pictured above is United States Forest Service Representative Liz Schleif, who delivered an update on proposals to acquire School Trust lands and improve land management. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Jordan Metsa attended the meeting on my behalf.

Our Week in Grand Rapids


At last week’s Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) StandDown in Grand Rapids, Staff Sergeant Alex Lund and his six-week old son, Micah, met Misty, a therapy miniature horse from nearby Lost Path Stables. Our Congressional office was represented there as well, ready to help our heroes with any problem or issue they might be having with the Department of Veterans Affairs or any other federal agency. 

Our Week in Bemidji


Military Veterans from throughout the region attended the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) Standown last week in Bemidji. Ashley Henry and Megan Ellison provided free haircuts while others offered advice on legal matters, housing, employment, and many other areas of need. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside was there to assist Veterans with issues pertaining to benefits, health care and any other problem we can help solve for our heroes. 


Coming Up in Washington

In addition to focusing on aid to aid to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico, the House will continue work on the 2018 federal budget.


Finally...

Do Not Open for 50 Years!


The City of Virginia, Minnesota buried a time capsule last week to be opened 50 years from now in October, 2067. Among the items included is a letter from Yours Truly to my successor in the 140th Congress. I expressed hope and optimism for the future - most especially for a cleaner, more peaceful, educated and healthier world. Here I am signing the letter as our legislative director, Duluth’s own Will Mitchell, looks on.



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