Saturday, April 29, 2017

The latest in media sucking up: AP mounts a spirited defense of presidential nepotism (laura Clawson) · Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 12:15 pm

The Associated Press offers up a pathetic defense of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s roles in Daddy’s White House: Nepotism was historically common. The examples offered of the 18 sons and 14 daughters or daughters-in-law who helped presidential fathers:

Martha Johnson, daughter of Andrew Johnson, lobbied members of Congress for appropriations and helped set protocols still used at the White House. Webb Hayes, son of Rutherford Hayes, "virtually ran the White House for his father," says Wead. John Eisenhower was a trusted adviser and protector of his father, Dwight Eisenhower. Anna Roosevelt went to Yalta to help with her father's meeting with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill, Wead says.

Why, if you go back 65 years, you can find a clear example of a president’s child serving as an aide. Although John Eisenhower, at the time an experienced Army officer, was not tasked with his time’s equivalents to reaching peace in the Middle East, restructuring the federal government, and solving the opioid crisis. But still, if Rutherford Hayes—another popular vote loser!—had his son virtually run the White House, then Donald Trump is clearly on solid ground 140 years later. I don’t know why we’re even talking about the fact that the White House is now being virtually run by someone whose qualification is that he is a real estate heir who married a real estate heiress and hawker of branded products and sucked up to his father-in-law. Or the fact that the president’s daughter got approval for Chinese trademarks the same day she had dinner with the Chinese president. Seriously, though. Why would we talk about this when Martha Johnson did stuff?


Powerful Conservative Groups Announce Support For GOP Health Bill Amendment

Matt Shuham · Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 12:14 pm

Two deep-pocketed conservative groups announced their support Wednesday for an amendment to the American Health Care Act, signaling a change that could sway conservative congressional votes.

Freedom Works and Club for Growth, who both opposed Republicans’ first effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, announced Wednesday that they would support the bill if it included an amendment penned by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) of the conservative Freedom Caucus and Rep. Tom MacArthur of the more moderate Tuesday Group.

The amendment was first leaked in a white paper dated April 13 published by Politico last week. According to that bare outline, the amendment would allow states to apply for waivers for Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits and community rating rules, with some exceptions, if they do so in the name of lowering costs, increasing coverage or advancing some other “benefit to the public interest.”

States that set up federal risk pools, or participate in a federal high risk pool, would be able to apply to waive the rule preventing insurers from raising rates based on health status under the amendment.

“The MacArthur-Meadows amendment addresses two costly parts of ObamaCare, community rating and the essential health benefits, providing states with much-needed flexibility to stabilize the market, enroll more people in health plans, and bring down the cost of premiums,” FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon said in a statement Wednesday. “We thank Reps. MacArthur and Meadows for their work on this amendment, which represents a path forward on health care in House. If the MacArthur-Meadows amendment were adopted, we would immediately withdraw our key vote against the American Health Care Act.”

“A month ago we said ‘conservatives and moderates… should start by meeting together to see what common ground they have.’ Today, we believe the hard work of Rep. Mark Meadows (NC-11) and Rep. Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), facilitated by Vice President Mike Pence, has yielded a compromise that the Club for Growth can support,” Club for Growth president David McIntosh said in his own statement, according to TownHall.

Last week, a senior GOP aide tempered expectations about the amendment to TPM, noting that there wasn’t even a legislative text prepared yet. And unnamed members of the Tuesday Group stressed to Politico Wednesday that MacArthur was negotiating the amendment on his own, not on behalf of the group.

During a press briefing Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the amendment “helps us get to consensus.” Conservative Republicans were similarly enthusiastic about the amendment.

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This is Amazing

Josh Marshall · Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:13 am

This is really quite astounding. In this morning’s edition of Mike Allen’s not-Playbook from Axios he introduces what seems to be Ivanka Trump setting up something that sounds a lot like the Clinton Foundation, only in this case run from within the White House by a top presidential aide who is also the President’s daughter, who also runs her own large international company and who also has two brothers who are currently running the President/Father’s company and trying to rake in as much money as possible on the fame and power of the presidency. Also, let’s be honest, the Trumps are a notoriously corrupt family, especially when it comes to running foundations.

No less astounding is that Allen never mentions that there’s anything problematic about this or that it doesn’t mimic in a wildly more corrupt way what President Trump nominally ran most of the 2016 campaign against.

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Reich on the tax cut proposal

Robert Reich

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, former hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs partner, calls it the “biggest tax cut and largest tax reform in the history of our country.”

In reality, it’s the biggest declaration of class warfare – Trump’s and Mnuchin’s class against average Americans -- in history.

Trump won’t just cut corporate taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent – a huge boon to the shareholding class (remember, the richest 10 percent of Americans holds 80 percent of the entire value of the stock market).

He’d also cut the individual taxes paid by partners in hedge funds, private-equity firms, and real estate empires like, um, Trump’s — from 39.6 percent to 15 percent. This is a giant windfall to the richest of the rich.

And he’d repeal the estate tax – paid by the richest 2 percent.

Oh, did I say that Trump is now proposing another repeal of Obamacare that would save America’s wealthy another $300 billion a year in taxes?

The biggest winners: Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Robert Mercer (Steve Bannon’s funder at Breitbart) and his daughter Rebekah, who is bankrolling a super PAC airing pro-Trump ads, along with Steven Mnuchin and all the other billionaires Trump brought into the his administration, including Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, and Betsy DeVos, as well as others on Wall Street and in corporate suites.

The biggest losers: Average working Americans -- many of whom voted for Trump -- who will now have fewer government services, and whose taxes will be paying more interest on a higher federal debt (much of which is owed to the rich, like Trump, who hold some of their fortunes in government bonds).

Trump has just declared class warfare against the people who voted for him, and most of the rest of us, too. It's our responsibility to sound the alarm far and wide.


5 Reasons Why Trump’s Corporate Tax Cut is Appallingly Dumb


Trump wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, in order to “make the United States more competitive.” 

This is truly dumb, for 5 reasons:

1. The White House says the United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Baloney. After corporate deductions and tax credits, the typical corporation pays an effective tax rate of 27.9 percent, only a tad higher than the average of 27.7 percent among advanced nations.

2. Trump’s corporate tax cut will will bust the federal budget. According to the Congress’s own Join Committee on Taxation, it will reduce federal revenue by $2 trillion over 10 years. This will either require huge cuts in programs for the poor, or additional tax revenues from the rest of us.

3. The White House says the tax cuts will create a jump in economic growth that will generate enough new revenue to wipe out any increase in the budget deficit. This is supply-side nonsense. The Congressional Research Service reviewed tax cuts since 1945 and found no evidence they generate economic growth. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both cut taxes, and both ended their presidencies with huge budget deficits. Bill Clinton raised taxes, and the economy created more jobs than it did under Bush or Reagan. 

4. American corporations don’t need a tax cut. They’re already hugely competitive as measured by their profits – which are at near record highs.

5. The White House says corporations will use the extra profits they get from the tax cut to invest in more capacity and jobs. Rubbish. They’re now using a large portion of their profits to buy back their shares of stock and to buy other companies, in order to raise their stock prices. There’s no reason to suppose they’ll do any different with even more profits.

Don’t fall for Trump’s corporate tax giveaway. It will be a huge windfall for corporations and a huge burden on ordinary Americans.


Racist-as-all-hell Sessions: Child tax credits going to 'mostly Mexicans' can pay for the wall (gabe Ortiz) · Monday, April 24, 2017, 1:34 pm

As the administration quickly approaches a disastrous, historically unpopular 100 days mark, America’s most racist Keebler elf has a pretty offensive plan to salvage Donald Trump’s failing presidential campaign promise to build a “big, beautiful” wall along the entirety of the southern border and have Mexico pay for it, and it’s exactly what someone named Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III would brainstorm:

“We're going to get paid for it one way or the other," Sessions said on ABC's This Week. "I know there's $4 billion a year in excess payments, according to the Department of the Treasury's own inspector general several years ago, that are going to payments to people — tax credits that they shouldn't get.”

"Now, these are mostly Mexicans," he continued. "And those kind of things add up — $4 billion a year for 10 years is $40 billion. There are a lot of ways we can find money to help pay for this."

Not only is this goblin racist as all hell, he has no clue what he’s talking about. First of all, the report he cites makes no mention of Mexicans, or any other nationality for that matter. According to the most recent data from Pew, Mexicans make up about half of the undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. But to Sessions and his white nationalist buddies, all undocumented immigrants are Mexicans. And if they’re all Mexicans, they must love their public benefits. Which brings up the second matter:

Sessions appears to be referencing a 2011 audit report Trump also cited while campaigning. As Politifact explains, the report said that in 2011, $4.2 billion in child tax credits was paid to people filing income taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number. Some of these filers are illegal immigrants, but many are legal foreign workers, and the audit did not say how many are Mexican.

"The vast majority of that $4.2 billion, the filer may be undocumented, but you have to have a child to receive it," said Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "And the children are overwhelmingly U.S. citizens."


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