Senate moves to step up protections for tax whistleblowers

A bipartisan bill introduced by members of the Senate Finance Committee would make it easier for employees to report employers for tax evasion.

The legislation, introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would extend anti-workplace retaliation provisions to American workers who forward company information illustrating tax evasion to the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS Whistleblower Improvements Act of 2017 serves two main purposes, according to the lawmakers:

(1) increase communication between the IRS and whistleblowers, while protecting taxpayer privacy, and

(2) provide legal protections to whistleblowers from employers retaliating against them for disclosing tax abuses.

“Whistleblowers have helped the IRS recover more than $3 billion for the taxpayers that otherwise would have been lost to fraud,” Grassley said.  “Whistleblowers have the potential to help even more.  They need assurances that putting their jobs at risk carries protections.  They also need better communication about where their cases stand so they’re not sitting in limbo.  This bill will offer a welcome mat to those who are too often treated like skunks at a picnic.”

Establishment intensifies attacks on Freedom Caucus

In Trump’s Washington, you’re with the GOP establishment or you’re against it.

That seems to be the signal following last week’s unsuccessful efforts by President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan to get conservative House lawmakers to agree to pass what they considered a weak attempt at repealing Obamacare.

Following the failure, attributed majorly to push back from the House Freedom Caucus, Trump and members of the Republican establishment have set sights on eliminating conservative obstructionism.

Trump, following the healthcare failure, suggested that House conservatives should be held responsible for Obamacare’s continued existence, saying via Twitter: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!”

Meanwhile, Washington newspapers ran several against the Freedom Caucus in their opinion pages at the start of the new week.

Washington Post policy contributor Marc Thiessen declared:

Trump’s Washington sees the establishment turn on conservative voters

Remember how conservative Republicans lost it when Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi said of Obamacare, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Well, here we are again…

Representative Chris Collins, a Republican from New York, was working overtime Thursday to urge passage of the American Health Care Act when he offered viewers this gem during an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams.

“In my district, right now there’s a lot of misunderstanding as to what it is we’re doing,” he said. “And once we get it done, and then we can have the chance to really explain it.”

Did you catch that?

The Republican healthcare bill, which the GOP leadership tried desperately to keep under wraps to the dismay of conservatives like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, is more of the same bureaucracy-laden garbage that Republicans have purported to loathe since Pelosi’s absurd 2010 utterance.

Is Trumpcare dead in the water?

House Republicans postponed a planned vote on the Ryan/Trump Obamacare replacement package Thursday, signaling that the president has yet to win over conservatives.

Trump has met with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus over the past two days in an effort to win support for the plan—but as of Thursday afternoon there were still too many no-voters in the room.

That’s because many conservatives consider the plan a betrayal of election promises of a full repeal and replacement.

According to reports, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadow’s said there were “30 to 40” potential Republican votes against the measure at the time the decision was made to postpone a voter until Friday or Monday.

The GOP establishment can afford to lose no more than 21 House Republicans if they hope to pass the bill, as there is currently no reason to believe that a single Democrat would vote in favor of the plan.

Rand Paul: Trumpcare dead on arrival

Sen. Rand Paul, one of the harshest critics of the GOP effort to reinvent Obamacare said Sunday that he doesn’t believe the establishment Republican healthcare redux has a chance of passing Congress.

The Kentucky conservative believes the biggest problem with the plan is that it doesn’t go far enough in fulfilling a promise to GOP voters to fully repeal, and then replace, President Barack Obama’s failed healthcare plan.

Paul, who has frequently referred to the plan being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Trump administration as “Obamacare-Lite,” says he believes voters expect congressional conservatives to fully repeal the healthcare law before opening debate about the best plan for a replacement.

“I was elected in 2010 right after it came into place, to repeal it,” Paul said.

He’ll be back: Schwarzenegger could become the nation’s next celebrity senator

On the heels of public insults from President Donald Trump over his performance on the president’s former The Apprentice television show, there’s talk that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering a 2018 Senate bid.

The action movie star and politician recently announced that he wouldn’t be returning to host The Apprentice, citing political toxicity damaging the show’s ratings.

Trump, meanwhile, has taken time away from his busy job leading the free world to dispute the claims via Twitter.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t voluntarily leaving The Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show,” the president said last week.

It wasn’t the first time Trump lashed out at the actor.

Should Trump really care about what’s going on with The Apprentice while he’s contemplating how he will “make America great again” with his limited time in the White House? Probably not.

GOP establishment targets conservatives

As Republicans remain divided over the best plan for replacing Obamacare, the GOP establishment is signaling a willingness to go on the attack against conservatives.

The American Action Network, a group aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), is running an ad campaign seeking to convince Republican voters that there’s no room for disagreement within the GOP.

The AAN ads are running on Fox News as well as in local markets in 30 districts represented by members of the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus.

“ObamaCare is full of job-destroying mandates. The new plan eliminates them. ObamaCare put bureaucrats in control. The Republicans’ plan puts patients and doctors in charge. ObamaCare stuck families with soaring premiums. The new plan provides more choices and lower costs,” the ad says.

Next comes a scene of President Donald Trump saying that Congress must “repeal and replace Obamacare” during his address to lawmakers earlier this month.