We have to say goodbye.
As much as it breaks our hearts, this will be our final newsletter. Guess that government shutdown is contagious, huh? All of us at The Left would like to send our most sincere thanks to you all for sticking with us, reading what we have to say, and giving a damn about politics.
If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye, you can always find us on Twitter @KimOnTheLeft, @AdamCBest, and @RedReedmond.
Shutdown Day 35: Federal workers are missing a second paycheck.
Today would have been payday for 800,000 federal workers if it weren’t for the ongoing partial government shutdown. Government employees have now missed two paychecks, and unemployment claims are skyrocketing.
Are all federal workers eligible for unemployment?
As it stands, only the 380,000 workers who are furloughed can apply for benefits. The 420,000 ‘essential workers’ currently working without pay are not eligible because of a Department of Labor regulation.
Seriously? Can’t someone change that?
Hopefully. House Democrats introduced legislation yesterday to make unemployment benefits available to all government employees, and a handful of governors have already moved to do the same in their states.
Those two competing Senate bills — one with border wall money and one without — both failed yesterday.
And the award for most out-of-touch Trump official goes to…
|Commerce Secretary and self-proclaimed billionaire Wilbur Ross. When told that federal workers are being forced to line up at homeless shelters for food, he said he doesn’t “really quite understand why” and recommended they just take out loans.
Michael Cohen has agreed to testify in front of the Senate.
Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Cohen to testify in a closed-door hearing in mid-February. His lawyer told MSNBC, “Of course he will honor the subpoena.”
Closed-door hearing? Wasn’t he going to testify publicly?
Yeah, but that wasn’t in the Senate. Cohen was scheduled to give public testimony in front of the House on Feb. 7. Buuut this week he decided to delay that hearing indefinitely, citing “ongoing threats against his family.” House Democrats are now thinking of issuing a subpoena to compel him to testify before he heads to prison.
When does that happen again?
His three-year sentence for tax evasion and lying to Congress is scheduled to begin on March 6. He’s probably pretty bummed 2019 is not a leap year.
Liberal groups want Dems to pick up the pace on Trump's tax returns.
|Progressive organizations Tax March, Stand Up America, and Indivisible sent a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal to say Trump’s tax returns can’t “be relegated to the back-burner.” In response, Neal defended his go-slow approach, so it could be a while before the committee makes a move.
New York passes its own DREAM Act.
|The legislation makes college tuition assistance available to undocumented immigrants and creates a private scholarship fund for children of immigrants.
So this just applies to New York?
Yup. This DREAM Act is different from the federal DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Same name, different scope.
The Super Bowl will have male cheerleaders for the first time ever.
|L.A. Rams cheerleaders Quinton Peron and Napolean Jinnies willmake history when they take the field on Feb. 3. They already made history at the start of the season, when they became the NFL’s first-ever male cheerleaders.
Tens of thousands of students call for action against climate change in Brussels.
|For the third week in a row, Belgian students are skipping school to say, “There is no planet B.”
Would you commit fraud to help a sick child?
by Reed Redmond
Casey Smitherman, a school superintendent in Elwood, Ind., has been charged with identity deception, official misconduct, insurance application fraud, and insurance fraud — three felonies and a misdemeanor. She knows what she did “was wrong,” but she insists she only did it out of concern for one of her students.
“I did it with the intent to help a child,” she said.
Smitherman has been the superintendent of Elwood Community Schools for about six months. Since taking the job in July, she made it her goal to provide “the best environment for Elwood students’ growth physically, mentally, and academically.” But outside of school, Smitherman realized some of the district’s students faced more socio-economic obstacles than others. Naturally, she wanted to do what she could to make sure all of her students could be successful.
In the fall, the 48-year-old superintendent started helping one of her district’s high school students — we’ll call him Charlie — by purchasing clothes for him, bringing him food, and cleaning his house. Smitherman and her husband even brought him gifts during the holiday season. The 15-year-old was living in a difficult home environment, but Smitherman, fearing he would be placed in foster care, did not want to call Child Protective Services.
On Jan. 9 of this year, Charlie didn’t show up for school. Smitherman called his home, and he told her he was sick. “After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat,” Smitherman later recalled. “As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic.”
When they showed up, the clinic refused to treat Charlie because he was uninsured and not accompanied by a legal guardian. Out of desperation, Smitherman drove the teen to another clinic and signed him in under her son’s name. Afterward, she took him to CVS and used her son’s health insurance to fill a prescription. “I knew he did not have insurance, and I wanted to do all I could to help him get well,” she later stated. “I know this action was wrong. In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health.”
Charlie ended up telling others about what happened, and on Jan. 17, Smitherman decided to turn herself into the police. A judge has since agreed to dismiss her charges if she is not arrested again within a year, and the school district has continued to support her. Yesterday, Smitherman returned to school.
Should an educator commit insurance fraud to help a sick student? Of course not. It’s a crime, and it can be highly dangerous to falsify a child’s medical information. But at the same time, it’s hard to blame someone for doing everything within her power to help a sick child.
In the state of Indiana, around 6% of all children ages 0-18 are uninsured. And Indiana isn’t exactly an outlier — the nationwide average is about 5%. Millions of children around the United States do not have health insurance.
So what’s the bigger problem: an educator committing fraud to help a sick child or the reality that fraud was necessary to help a sick child in the first place?
|Trump’s approval ratings have dropped below 40 percent. Almost as if people don’t like their president taking the government hostage for a useless wall.
Aviation workers have sent out a warning that airline safety is “deteriorating by the day” as a result of the shutdown. They say they can’t predict when “the entire system will break.”
Federal workers have been protesting in Senate buildings. On Wednesday, a dozen protesters were arrested after a sit-in outside Mitch McConnell’s office.