Editorials

Denham didn’t do his voters any favors with votes on framework

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, speaking in Denair in April.
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, speaking in Denair in April. jlee@modbee.com

Jeff Denham just tried to stick his hand in your pocket, brushed off the Dreamers and is pushing those on Medicare to better fend for themselves. All in a week’s work for the Turlock Republican deeply dedicated to the Trump agenda.

Start with a pinch of SALT.

House Republicans passed the “budget framework” last week, which forms the blueprint for both the actual budget and the oft-promised tax overhaul Republicans are crafting. It passed 216-212 – meaning a lot of Republicans voted no.

Five of the six New Jersey Republicans voted no. There are eight New York Republicans, and six voted no. California’s 14 House Republicans? All 14 voted to pass it.

Within the framework is a provision to kill the SALT federal income tax deductions – i.e., deductions for State And Local Taxes. If you don’t itemize, it won’t matter. If you do, you could lose some big deductions.

Losing SALT deductions will cost a lot of Denham’s constituents. (We could argue that if Californians didn’t pay so much in state and local taxes, this wouldn’t hurt as much.)

It will also penalize residents of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. So it’s understandable how Texas Republicans or one from Kentucky or Georgia would vote for it. But a Californian?

According to Forbes magazine, even with the higher standard deductions, this will cost hundreds of thousands of California taxpayers thousands of dollars each. Forbes wrote in June that four of the counties that will lose the most are in California; the others were in New York and New Jersey.

This same framework calls for cuts of $463 million to Medicare over 10 years and $1 trillion in cuts from Medicaid. Medicaid provides funding for Medi-Cal, which our state used to fund expansion of Obamacare. Roughly 100,000 of Denham’s constituents, including thousands of children, depend on Medicaid.

Voting to deprive so many Californians of healthcare is something Denham promised 1,000 people in Denair in April that he would never do. Did he forget so soon?

There are also cuts to farm subsidies and food programs for poor people that help purchase fresh produce, the kind grown on California farms.

The Chicago Tribune points out that Trump is pitching this plan as a boon to the middle class. Maybe the middle class in Texas, but not so much in California. Of course the real winners are those with the most money.

We know the framework is not yet law, and lots of time to negotiate. But if Denham can’t even break ranks on a “blueprint,” how can anyone expect him to vote against Trump’s agenda when it really counts?

And about those Dreamers. Denham told an NPR interviewer last month that helping them would be a wonderful way to unite Congress in a common purpose.

But the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals bill is languishing in a Congressional committee; House Speaker Paul Ryan says it will be part of a year-end spending bill. But that’s a vague promise at best. They’re bargaining chips.

Meanwhile, virtually all the Democrats have vowed to sign a “discharge petition” to move it out of committee and straight to the floor for a vote. One brave Republican has signed, too. That Republican is not Jeff Denham.

If Denham really cares about Dreamers – and frankly, we think he does – then he should either sign the discharge petition or explain how he’ll make certain DACA gets passed.

Jeff Denham is proving a loyal soldier for Donald Trump. Not so much for the thousands of Californians who sent him to Congress.

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