H.R. 1114/S. 427, the Social Security Expansion Act, would, as its title suggests, expand Social Security benefits for all seniors, and pay for these benefit expansions by instituting a payroll tax on income over $250,000. That would, of course, create a sort of "donut hole" in the current payroll tax scheme, since income over $117,000 doesn't get taxed into Social Security at all -- and indeed, the Harkin/Begich bills from 2014 would have simply eliminated that $117,000 income cap -- but certainly this tax-hike-on-the-rich would result in Social Security doing better by our seniors. The bill would also tie all cost-of-living increases to the CPI-E, or the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers, and for good reason -- seniors have fixed incomes and high health care costs, which other indeces don't capture. The Social Security Expansion Act warrants a phone call to your Reps and Senators; you can find their phone numbers, of course, using the tools in the upper right-hand corner of this page (or, if you're on your cellphone, the bottom of this page).
Meanwhile, the state of Arkansas, after not executing a prisoner for a decade, now plans to execute two inmates a day on four separate days over a 10-day period, something no state has ever done before -- and all because its supply of the dangerous execution drug, midazolam, expires at the end of the month. Even if you support the death penalty, you would raise an eyebrow, I think, at the notion that using up stock of an expiring drug would dictate when to carry out executions -- and, not for nothing, but both Florida and Arizona have banned this drug, because it can cause prisoners to convulse for a quarter-hour after injection. If, of course, you're all about causing prisoners pain, then you're not a civilized person who treats people humanely even when you think they don't deserve it -- you know, like Jesus would do! -- and you really should stop reading this blog and go read Breitbart or something. Just remember to wipe off your computer screen afterwards! The ACLU helps you tell Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to drop his "execution blitz" plan.
Finally, Pennsylvania residents take note: the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state's mandatory minimum sentencing regime in 2015, on the grounds that suspects didn't find out they were a target of a mandatory minimum until after sentencing, but HB 741 would re-establish mandatory minimum sentences (while requiring prosecutors to argue for a mandatory minimum sentence during trial, which would likely satisfy the Court's objections). But who could be against mandatory minimums for people who sell drugs and molest children? Someone who thinks judges should judge, and someone who has faith that we can keep people safe and punish people honestly for heinous crimes, that's who. Mandatory minimums also increase taxpayer costs (as you'd figure it would, since mandatory minimums also jack up the prison population) and prosecutors who claim they need the mandatory minimums to get to drug kingpins need to ask themselves how well that's all worked out. So the ACLU helps you tell your Pennsylvania state legislators to reject mandatory minimum sentencing.