Quote of the week
"Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done? I don't understand it. Maybe that's the whole point." — Hillary Clinton, at an event in Little
Tax bill movement
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill by a 227-205 vote. All four Arkansas congressmen supported the cut. Thirteen Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill because of elements that will be harmful to the blue or bluish states from which they hail.
The bill would hurt taxpayers in Arkansas who itemize, through the loss of deductions for state and local taxes. It would also increase the deficit and benefit the wealthy, through the eventual elimination of the estate tax and other changes.
Meanwhile, at the urging of Sen. Tom Cotton and other ultraconservative senators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced last week that the Senate's version of the bill would include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. That repeal would reduce the deficit by an estimated $316 billion over the next decade, but would also likely mean millions would lose their health insurance. It's unclear what the addition of that repeal means for the tax plan's future in the Senate, where Republicans control a slim majority. The Senate was expected to consider the legislation after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Monument destroyer sent to State Hospital
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza decided last week that Michael Tate Reed, charged with demolishing the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds shortly after it was installed, was unfit to stand trial and ordered him committed to the State Hospital to see if he could ever be fit.
A psychiatric examination was ordered for Reed, 32, in September. He drove a car into the monument June 28 and has been in custody since.
Reed went through a similar process in Oklahoma after being charged with knocking down a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol in 2014. He was not prosecuted but referred to mental health treatment.
Reed was charged with first-degree criminal mischief, a felony, for destroying the monument. A new version of the Ten Commandments has been made, but not yet installed. Several groups have announced intentions to sue after the monument is in place for state endorsement of religion.
Chintan Desai, a regional project manager for the KIPP Delta charter school operation, is running as a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 1st District, now represented by Republican Rep. Rick Crawford.
Desai, a California native and son of immigrants from India, came to Arkansas in 2010 with Teach for America. He was a fifth-grade teacher at the KIPP school in Helena-West Helena and then worked on Teach for America staff before returning to KIPP Delta.
Among areas of emphasis for his campaign: "making higher education more affordable, closing the income and wealth inequality, gun-control legislation that makes sense and slowing climate change."
Jacob Scott Goodwin, 22, of Ward has been extradited from Lonoke County to Virginia to face a charge that he joined in a beating of a black man at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. His visitors in jail have included a network news crew and a local neo-Nazi.