Things That Matter

Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

Democrats have officially wrapped their third round of Democratic debates. Last night, 12 candidates for the Democratic nomination went head to head on the debate stage in Ohio. The biggest topics of the night were President Trump’s sudden withdrawal of troops in Syria leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Turkey’s attacks and what to do with billionaires. There were some clear winners and losers from the debate. Here is your quick breakdown from the candidates trying to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Elizabeth Warren delivered a powerful message on the inequalities of the abortion debate.

“I think there are a number of options. I think as Mayor Buttigieg said, there are many different ways that people are talking about different options and I think we may have to talk about them,” Sen. Warren said when asked if she’d add justices to the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights. “But, on Roe v. Wade, can we just pause for a minute here. I lived in an America where abortion was illegal and rich women still got abortions because they could travel. They could go to places where it was legal. What we’re talking about now, is that the people who are denied access to abortion are the poor, are the young, are 14-year-olds who were molested by a family member. We now have support across this country. Three out of 4 Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you’ve got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress. We should not leave this up to the Supreme Court. We should do it through democracy because we can.”

The U.S. has seen a series of laws passed on the state level aiming to limit access to abortion. The laws have attempted to shutter Planned Parenthood clinics, which offer many more services than abortions, and Alabama’s law sought to put physicians in prison for 99 years for performing abortions. Louisiana has a law that is being heard by the Supreme Court this session that could force all but one doctor in the state to stop performing abortions.

Julián Castro spoke out about increasing police brutality and deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

“I grew up in neighborhoods where it wasn’t uncommon to hear gunshots at night,” former HUD Secretary Castro said when asked about preventing handgun homicides. “I can remember ducking into the backseat of a car when I was a freshman in high school across the street from my school, my public school because folks were shooting at each other.”

Castro continued by speaking about a topic that has been frequently discussed among the candidates, government buybacks of guns. Castro pointed out that he doesn’t like the idea of a mandatory buyback program since some people have not been able to define it. Furthermore, Castro states that if authorities are not going door-to-door then it isn’t going to be effective.

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted using data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 39,773 people died from gun-related incidents in the U.S. in 2017. The deaths came from suicides, murder, law enforcement, accidents, and undetermined circumstances.

Castro also made a point to name the latest victim of deadly police violence.

Atatiana Jefferson was home in Fort Worth, Texas with her nephew playing video games when neighbors called the police to check up on Jefferson. The officer who killed Jefferson, Aaron Y. Dean, resigned before he could be fired, according to The New York Times and has been charged with murder in the death. It is also reported that there have been six police-involved killings in the Fort Worth area this year.

Beto O’Rourke doubled down on his plan to create a mandatory buyback program of assault rifles.

If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate, which we saw when we were at Kent State [University] recently, then that weapon will be taken from them,” former Congressman O’Rourke told the audience when asked about finding the weapons and taking them away. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement. But the expectation is that Americans will follow the law.”

Bernie Sanders, fresh from a health scare, let the billionaires have it.

“When you have a half-million Americans sleeping out on the streets today; when you have 87 million people uninsured or under-insured; when you have hundreds of thousands of kids who cannot afford to go to college and millions struggling with the oppressive burden of student debt,” Sanders said. “Then you also have three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that is a moral and economic outrage and that truth is we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality and we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war for 45 years.”

The night was filled with other candidates bringing up issues of the opiate crisis, Russian meddling in American democracy, the need to bring dignity back to jobs, and Biden was confronted about the Ukrainian scandal his son is involved in.

READ: From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

The Trump Administration Is Withholding Roughly $10 Billion In Disaster Relief From Puerto Rico, Now Congress Wants Answers

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The Trump Administration Is Withholding Roughly $10 Billion In Disaster Relief From Puerto Rico, Now Congress Wants Answers

nancypelosi / Instagram

The recovery process in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria has been exponentially slowed down by a lack of adequate help from the Trump administration. If there was any more proof of that, it came last week as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Department held up $18 billion in aid that was designated for disaster relief in Puerto Rico.

The mandated deadline for those funds came back on Oct. 4 but no money was ever released. Ninety days later, Democratic lawmakers are looking for answers as to why Puerto Rico has been left in the dark here as recovery efforts continue more than two years after Maria hit the island. Even though HUD employees have testified that they know withholding this aid is illegal, they are continuing to withhold it. 

Recovery aid is needed in Puerto Rico now more than ever but as of now, it’s being withheld due to the Trump administration’s fears that it will be put in corrupt hands. 

Back in September, Congress had asked the agency to publish funding notices to 18 disaster-stricken states and territories. Seventeen were published with Puerto Rico being the lone exception. The funding notice was supposed to be $10.2 billion in aid to help build much-needed infrastructure reinforcement in anticipation of future storms.  

“This is not meant to be a suggestion, it’s mandated,” Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. David Price, D-N.C. told NBC News. “It’s time to release this notice and the longer this goes on, the more one has to wonder about the political influences that might be taking place at the top.”

In total, the agency is holding up $18.5 billion, the largest single amount of disaster aid awarded in the agency’s history. The reasoning behind the delay stems from fears that the money could be in corrupt hands, something that the agency’s secretary Ben Carson and President Trump have previously said

 According to NBC News, Price said the “Trump administration is exaggerating the corruption allegations since the Office of Inspector General didn’t find widespread corruption within Puerto Rico’s housing agency, which would be managing the federal housing aid at stake.”

In a statement to Newsweek, an unnamed HUD spokesperson reiterated Carson and Trump’s belief in the withheld funds being misused. The statement also notes that Puerto Rico has only used a fraction of the already allocated funds available to it already.  

“The Administration has taken historic action to help the people of Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Given the Puerto Rican government’s history of financial mismanagement, corruption, and other abuses; we must ensure that any HUD assistance provided helps those on the island who need it the most. This process must be handled in a prudent manner with strong financial controls to mitigate the risk to Federal taxpayers. In addition, it is worth noting that Puerto Rico already has access to $1.5 billion and has so far only spent $5.8 million—less than one percent of those funds.”

Now Congress has a problem on its hands that has many Democrats calling for answers about when this disaster aid will be released, if ever.  

One of the members of Congress leading the charge is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas who told reporters last week that “the Trump administration knowingly broke the law by failing to comply with the deadline to issue a federal notice for over $10 billion in aid to Puerto Rico.”

According to John Hudak, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution told NBC News these types of congressional deadlines do at times get missed but there is also a level of transparency from agencies.  

“When these conversations do not happen, it means that something else is going on and it raises concerns that something improper might be happening,” Hudak said. “Instead, they silently missed the deadline.”

Hudak said that there are a few options that Congress can take to make HUD begin dispersing the disaster aid. The first option being halting the funding that the agency uses every day to operate but there is resistance from some Democrats in going that far right now. There is also the possibility that Congress and the Puerto Rican government could take legal action and sue the agency for basically not doing its job. 

Over 850 organizations as of Saturday had joined members of Congress in calling out the agency for not complying with the law. Many of them have stressed the importance of the aid and how critical that it gets released in a timely manner.

There is increased urgency coming from over 850 various organizations that have joined together with members of Congress in denouncing HUD for its actions. At stake is Puerto Rico, which still has ways to go in terms of full recovery from Hurricane Maria.

“It is outrageous that Secretary Carson continues to withhold critical mitigation funding for Puerto Rico approved by Congress nearly two years ago,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition, one of the 850 organizations that have denounced HUD. “Secretary Carson’s decision to ignore Congress and refuse to release these funds makes it nearly impossible for Puerto Ricans to prepare for future disasters. Congress must hold him accountable – every day of inaction puts American lives at risk.”

READ: ‘We’re The Ones Making Wigs Modern’: These Female Entrepreneurs Want You To Support Black-Owned Hair Businesses

Trump Tried To Bully Kamala Harris And She Clapped Back In The Most Hilarious Way Possible

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Trump Tried To Bully Kamala Harris And She Clapped Back In The Most Hilarious Way Possible

Kamala Harris / Instagram

P1: Kamala Harris may be out of the race, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to stay quiet. On Tuesday, the former Democratic Presidential Nominee clapped back on Instagram to a tweet Trump had aimed at her. The tough-as-nails former prosecutor has never been one to mince words when it comes to confronting bullies and haters. Who could forget that epic showdown she had with the snarky college student who asked her about gun control? But this time, Harris’s wrath is aimed at a more powerful for: the president. 

After announcing the suspension of her 2020 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Trump took to Twitter to lob a gloating comments Harris’s way. “Too bad,” he said. “We will miss you Kamala!”. Harris, for her part, wasted no time showing the president who’s boss. “Don’t worry, Mr. President,” she replied. “I’ll see you at your trial.”

Naturally, the internet exploded in glee over Harris’s quick-witted response.

As of Thursday, Harris’s viral tweet has racked up over 186,000 retweets, 44,000 comments and a whopping one million likes. Supporters and fans alike commented on her post with compliments like:”Best tweet ever” and “Omg the shade”. So, although many are disappointed that the once-front runner nominee of the Democratic primary will no longer be on the ballot, many are at least comforted by knowing that she has retained her trademark sense of humor

What’s not a laughing matter, however, is the trial that Harris was referring to. After Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi confirmed that the the House had “no choice” but to move forward with articles of impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee announced that its next impeachment hearing will be on December 9th. This comes after the The House Judiciary Committee released a 300-page report that detailed the relationship between Trump and Ukraine. So, as of now, Trump is on track to be the third president in the history of the United States to be impeached. 

The House has concluded that Trump, in the words of Pelosi, has “abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival”. The political rival was Vice President Joe Biden, whom Trump viewed as a threat to his upcoming presidential campaign. 

Although Harris’s clap-back was funny, her withdrawal is still a loss for the presidential nominee pool that now falls woefully short on candidates of color. 

Harris, with her stellar resume, has long been a shining star in the Democratic Party. Not only was she both the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s Attorney General, but she was also first South Asian-American and second African-American woman to serve in the Senate in US history. In other words: she is well-qualified to take on any job she tackles.

Both presidential candidates Cory Booker and Julian Castro blame the Democratic National Committee for not throwing their support behind candidates of color in the same way they do with white candidates. As of now, the DNC’s lineup of debate participants (and therefore more publicity), are all white: Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. “What message is that sending, that we heralded the most diverse field in our history, and now we’re seeing people like her dropping out of this campaign?” Booker told Politico. “Voters did not determine her destiny.” 

As for now, it’s nice to get some comfort from Harris’s unparalled talent at confronting bullies.

When Americans are forced to deal with realities as depressing as the 2020 campaign, you can’t blame them from grasping onto what little entertainment is presented to them.

This Twitter user thinks that Harris’s comeback was step above the usual “shade” throwing.

We’ll remember this description for later. 

This person believes that Harris should win an award for her clap-back.

We would love to be able to hand her a medal for this shade. 

This person kindly pointed out whose tweet had the more likes and retweets–despite Trump having 67 million followers compared to Harris’s 3 million followers.

You might even venture to think that Harris’s followers are more passionate than Trump’s. Hmm…

This man is a man of few words, but we concur with his sentiment

As always, we stan a queen. And Kamala Harris is definitely one of them. We’re pretty sure she’ll continue to serve the American people for a long time to come.