Sen. Blumenthal v. Pres. Trump: Is Trump a Bully?

A sad series of tweets and counter-tweets this week have led to cries of bullying in our nation’s capitol.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, was quoted on television as calling for a law to prevent President Donald Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has impaneled a grand jury and may be expanding his initial investigation into Russian interference in the election.  This prompted Trump to accuse Blumenthal of being “a phony Vietnam con artist.”

Blumenthal is a man of integrity with a record of distinguished public service… but he isn’t perfect. Some years ago, in the heat of politics, Blumenthal exaggerated his military experience. Blumenthal let voters in Connecticut believe that he had served in Vietnam. He was forced to call a press conference in 2010 and admit that while he served as a member of the Marines Corps Reserves from 1970-1976 he had never served overseas.  Blumenthal was emotional at the press conference and reportedly cried.

Trump, who got five draft deferments and never served in the military, has astutely observed that the Vietnam War flap is an acute embarrassment to Blumenthal. So Trump brings it up every time Blumenthal has the temerity to criticize Trump’s administration.  On Monday, he tweeted: “I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there.”

A few months ago,  Blumenthal objected to Trump’s dismissal of FBI Director James Comey and Trump tweeted that Blumenthal had “cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness” at the 2010 press conference. The reference to “baby” appeared to be an attempt to demean Blumenthal’s manhood. In a gross overstatement, Trump also accused “‘Richie” of devising “one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history.”

Blumenthal has vowed that Trump’s bullying won’t intimidate him ( though one worries it may deter some of Blumenthal’s less courageous and equally imperfect colleagues). And if anyone can stand up to Trump’s tweets, Blumenthal is up for the task.   “It’s not about me… Our national security and rule of law is at risk. And that’s where our focus should be. It is not about me,” he told The Hill.

Is Trump bullying Blumenthal? Not in the traditional sense of the word. Bullying is associated with a power differential. A bully has more power than his or her victim and uses that power to repeatedly harm the victim.  Blumenthal is not a 99-pound weakling.  Blumenthal is a powerful Democrat whose intent is clear – he knows the Special Prosecutor could severely damage Trump’s presidency. And Trump poses no threat to Blumenthal, who was elected to a second term in the Senate by Connecticut voters last year with the largest vote margin in the history of statewide elections in the state. [Read more…]

Momentum Builds to Stop Job Credit Checks

How would you like your job prospects to be contingent upon whether or not a national  credit reporting agency gets it right?

A coalition of seven U.’S. Senators, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), proposed legislation this week to prohibit employers from requiring potential employees to disclose their credit history as part of the job application process.

A 2013 study from the Federal Trade Commission suggests that errors in credit reports are common and, in many cases,  difficult to correct. Still, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that  43 percent of U.S. employers conduct pre-employment credit checks, weeding out individuals with poor credit histories.

At one time, an individual’s credit history was seen  an indicator of  character but that was before the Wall Street financial collapse resulted in mass layoffs, foreclosures, medical-related bankruptcies, etc.

“Families have not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and too many Americans are still searching for jobs. This is about basic fairness — let people compete on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills,” said Sen. Warren

Warren’s bill is based upon the proposed Equal Employment for All Act  (EEAA), which amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act and was originally introduced in the U.S. Congress in 2009  by  Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN).  The EEAA now has 31 sponsors in the House.

The EEAA would prohibit a current or prospective employer from using or procuring a consumer report  for  employment purposes that contains information about the consumer’s creditworthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity.

The EEAA makes exceptions for employment: (1) requiring a national security or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) clearance; (2) with a state or local government agency that otherwise requires use of a consumer report; or (3) in a supervisory, managerial, professional, or executive position at a financial institution.

Senate co-sponsors include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The Equal Employment for All Act has been endorsed by more than 40 organizations representing women, people with disabilities, union members, minorities and victims of domestic violence.

* Note: Before an employer can request for a credit report about an employee or job applicant, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the employer to tell the individual that it might use the information to make a decision. This notice is separate from other documents  — like an application. An employer may not get a report about an employee or job applicant for employment purposes without getting his or her permission or authorization first, usually in writing. If an employer might use information from a credit or other background report to  deny an individual employment, a promotion, to terminate employment or to reassign the individual  — the employer must give the individual a copy of the report and a document called A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act before taking any adverse action.  More information is available from the Federal Trade Commission.