Republicans Despise the Working Class

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

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President Trump looking at guests identified as “middle class families.” CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

You can always count on Republicans to do two things: try to cut taxes for the rich and try to weaken the safety net for the poor and the middle class. That was true under George W. Bush, who sharply cut tax rates on the top 1 percent and tried to privatize Social Security. It has been equally true under President Trump; G.O.P. legislative proposals show not a hint of the populism Trump espoused on the campaign trail.

But as a terrible, no good, very bad tax bill heads for a final vote, something has been added to the mix. As usual, Republicans seek to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable, but they don’t treat all Americans with a given income the same. Instead, their bill — on which we don’t have full details, but whose shape is clear — hugely privileges owners, whether of businesses or of financial assets, over those who simply work for a living.

And this privileging of nonwage income isn’t an accident. Modern Republicans exalt “job creators,” that is, people who own businesses directly or indirectly via their stockholdings. Meanwhile, they show implicit contempt for mere employees.

More about that contempt in a moment. First, about that tax bill: The biggest-ticket item is a sharp cut in corporate taxes. While some of this tax cut might trickle down in the form of higher wages, the consensus among tax economists is that most of the break will accrue to shareholders as opposed to workers. So it’s mainly a tax cut for investors, not people who work for a living.

And the second most important element in the bill is a tax break for people whose income comes from owning a business rather than in the form of wages. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has evaluated the Senate bill, which the final bill is expected to resemble. It finds that the bill would reduce taxes on business owners, on average, about three times as much as it would reduce taxes on those whose primary source of income is wages or salaries. For highly paid workers, the gap would be even wider, as much as 10 to one.

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As the Center’s Howard Gleckman notes, this might mean, for example, that “a partner in a real estate development firm might get a far bigger tax cut than a surgeon employed by a hospital, even though their income is the same.” (Yes, a lot of the bill looks as if it were specifically designed to benefit the Trump family.)

If this sounds like bad policy, that’s because it is. More than that, it opens the doors to an orgy of tax avoidance. Suppose that I could get The Times to stop paying me a salary, and instead to pay the same amount to Krugmanomics LLC, a consulting firm consisting of one person — me — that sells opinion pieces. I would probably get a big tax break as a result.

Now, the bill will contain complicated rules intended to limit such gaming of the system, and they’ll probably prevent me personally from taking advantage of the new loophole. But as Gleckman says of these rules, “some may fail and some may work too well” — that is, deny the tax break to some business owners who really should qualify. On average, however, they’re likely to fail: a lot of revenue will be lost to those who game the system. Think about it: We’re pitting hastily devised legislation, drafted without hearings over the course of just a few days, against the cleverest lawyers and accountants money can buy. Which side do you think will win?

As a result, it’s a good guess that the bill will increase the budget deficit far more than currently projected. And meanwhile, after all those promises Republicans made about simplifying our tax system, they’ve actually made it far more complicated.

So why are they doing this?

After all, the tax bill appears to be terrible politics as well as terrible policy. Cutting corporate taxes is hugely unpopular; even Republicans are almost as likely to say they should be raised as to say they should be lowered. The Bush tax cuts, at least initially, had wide (though unjustified) popular support; but the public overwhelmingly disapproves of the current Republican plan.

But Republicans don’t seem able to help themselves: Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can’t contain it.

When I realized the extent to which G.O.P. tax plans were going to favor business owners over ordinary workers, I found myself remembering what happened in 2012, when Eric Cantor — then the House majority leader — tried to celebrate Labor Day. He put out a tweet for the occasion that somehow failed to mention workers at all, instead praising those who have “built a business and earned their own success.”

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Yes, it was just a gaffe, but a revealing one; Cantor, a creature of the G.O.P. establishment if ever there was one, had so little respect for working Americans that he forgot to include them in a Labor Day message.

And now that disdain has been translated into legislation, in the form of a bill that treats anyone who works for someone else — that is, the vast majority of Americans — as a second-class citizen.

Trump-Moore: A G.O.P. Tragedy in Four Acts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

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A Trump supporter at a rally for Roy Moore in Fairhope, Ala. CreditEmily Kask for The New York Times

With Roy Moore’s humiliating loss in the Alabama Senate race, the Trumpified Republican Party finds itself both defeated and dishonored, with no sign that it has yet hit bottom.

At every stage of the run-up to this special election, Republicans could have resisted, pushed back, or drawn lines, but their failure to do so lead them inexorably to this moment: the defeat of an unreconstructed bigot and ignorant crank who had the full-throated backing of the president they have embraced and empowered.

It may be worthwhile charting the party’s descent to this moment.

Think of it as a drama in four acts.

In Act I, the curtain opens to reveal a gaudy golden escalator, and as Donald Trump descends to announce his candidacy for president, the scene has the feel of a French farce. But the humor is tinged with menace, as his lies and insults pile up, targeting women, the disabled and minorities. As the curtain closes, it is unclear whether Republicans will bring themselves to embrace the erratic usurper. (Exit Jeb! stage right.)

The mood is more somber in Act II, as Republicans ponder their choice. A solitary Hamlet-like Paul Ryan paces the stage in a torn doublet and laments the evil days that have fallen on his party; he is accompanied by a Joker (who looks a lot like Lindsey Graham) who tells him that Donald Trump is a “kook,” someone who is “not fit to run the country.” But after several long monologues, in which he rationalizes that “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” the young Mr. Ryan decides that the election is a binary choice and he and other Republicans must go along. He wavers after Mr. Trump engages in what he calls a “textbook definition” of racism and is caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women. Other women come forward, but they are largely ignored. Republicans make the choice to stick with him and to everyone’s surprise, Donald Trump wins. (Exit Mr. Ryan and Joker stage left.)

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Act III opens to a scene shortly after the inauguration. One after another, Republican leaders bow the knee to the newly enthroned Orange God King, who is surrounded by a motley court of misfits, sycophants and brigands. Even as Mr. Trump’s behavior becomes increasingly outrageous and often unhinged, the party’s grandees appease and flatter him. Courtiers, who come and go, repeatedly reassure him that he is winning. After all, he is giving them what they want: judges, tax cuts, deregulation and an end to Obamacare mandates. Enter Paul Ryan, who is better dressed and a much more cheerful character in this act. He is asked: What choice would Republicans now make?

We already made that choice,” he said. “We’re with Trump.”

“That’s a choice we made at the beginning of the year. That’s a choice we made during the campaign, which is we merged our agendas.”

And this is the New Normal for Republicans: the surrender of the party now seems complete. When the president retweets racist videos from a British fascist group, Republican leaders simply ignore it. They have grown accustomed to the politics of rationalization and the moral compromises it demands. So, as President Trump’s lies become more flagrant, they shrug. His conflicts of interest generate little attention, his tweet-rages hardly a blink. Even as the special prosecutor’s noose appears to close around the president’s inner circle, party leaders mimic Mr. Trump’s denunciations of the investigation. Despite toxic polling, Republicans have fallen into line behind his tax plan, even though it threatens to explode the deficit. There are dissenting voices, who are quickly hustled offstage, but they leave behind haunting warnings.

By the end of Act III, though, it is increasingly clear that this drama is less Hamlet and more Faust. It has only begun to dawn on the protagonists that in a Faustian bargain, you often get your heart’s delight, only to find out that the price was far more than you expected. (Alarms and excursions offstage.)

Act IV opens with a solitary, dark figure, a sort of infernal Falstaff (Steve Bannon), who, despite his banishment from the White House, remains an avatar of the forces that have been unleashed by Donald Trump’s presidency. Now Mr. Bannon presents the Republican Party with its future: Roy Moore.

Many are horrified by the prospect of this figure of appallingly vileness, who was twice removed from the bench for his refusal to follow the law, has expressed nostalgia for slavery, suggested that homosexuality should be illegal, that women should not be allowed to run for public office, and that Muslims should not be allowed to serve.

But at Mr. Bannon’s urging, Mr. Trump embraces Mr. Moore and the Republican National Committee obediently follows suit. The women who have accused Mr. Moore of harassment, sexual assault and molestation are either disbelieved as “fake news,” or discounted because it was more important to defeat the Democrat than to take the issue of sexual abuse seriously. For many Republicans, this is a reprise of the choice they made a year ago, when they decided to overlook Donald Trump’s own conduct and character. But this time the result is a stunning electoral defeat for Mr. Trump in one of the reddest states in the country and a diminished majority for Republicans in the Senate, putting their entire agenda at risk.

There were voices of resistance. Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders tried to distance themselves from Mr. Moore. The former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney declared: “Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate would be a stain on the G.O.P. and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”

But in this act, the Republican Party learns the full weight of the choices it has made, and their moral and political consequences. There was a certain inevitability to all of this. Step by step, Republicans embraced a politics that was post-truth and post-ethics. Now, in defeat, the party — or at least its leadership — is officially post-shame.

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Some will argue that Republicans actually a dodged a bullet in Alabama, because they will not have to deal with the nightmare of a Senator Moore. But Republicans now head into a fearsome storm of outrage, tightly lashed to both President Trump and memories of Roy Moore’s horrific candidacy.

Throughout this final act, the party’s leaders will desperately try to pretend that this is not a tragedy and that they were not the ones who brought this upon themselves. Some of them will know better, but I suspect that in the final scene they will be left with the question “What have we done?”

TRUMPS FAKE NEWS MACHINE CRANKS UP TO HELP GET CHILD MOLESTER ELECTED

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITIFACTS.COM)

 

Fake news in the Alabama Senate race surges before Election Day

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President Donald Trump seeks to boost Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore by recording a phone call on his behalf in the final stretch of a bitter Alabama campaign marked by sexual misconduct accusations against Moore. (Reuters)

The fake news mill has been working overtime in the closing days of a special election to decide Alabama’s next senator.

The seat, normally a cake walk for Republicans, is now too close to call. Multiple allegations of Republican Roy Moore’s sexual advances on underage girls when he was in his early 30s have scrambled the contest.

Making the story harder for voters to follow are Internet posts using false or made-up information to discredit the accusers. Here are a few claims we’ve swatted down.

The claim: Accuser admits she tampered with Roy Moore’s yearbook signature

The rating: Pants on Fire!

A conspiracy-minded website attempted to cast doubt on evidence presented by one of eight women who accused Moore of sexual misconduct. The misleading headline on Gateway Pundit said, “WE CALLED IT! Gloria Allred Accuser **ADMITS** She Tampered With Roy Moore’s Yearbook ‘Signature.’ ”

Beverly Young Nelson (represented by lawyer Gloria Allred) accused Roy Moore of groping her when she was 16 years old and he, in his 30s, was the deputy district attorney of Etowah County. As evidence, Nelson presented a note she said Moore wrote in her high school yearbook before the incident took place.

The inscription reads, “To a sweeter, more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A.”

Below the signature reads “12-22-77, Olde Hickory House.”

In a Dec. 8 Good Morning America interview, Nelson said she added the date and place of the inscription.

“He signed your yearbook?” ABC News reporter Tom Llamas asked Nelson.

“He did sign it,” Nelson said.

“And you made some notes underneath?” Llamas asked.

“Yes,” Nelson said.

Gateway Pundit, along with Breitbart and Fox News, jumped on the change. All three charged that Nelson said she either tampered with Moore’s signature or forged all or part of the inscription. Fox News later walked back its story.

We rated the Gateway Pundit claim Pants On Fire.

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“Gloria Allred Accuser **ADMITS** She Tampered With Roy Moore’s Yearbook ‘Signature.’ “

The claim: Woman says she was offered big money by Washington Post to accuse Roy Moore of misconduct

The rating: Pants on Fire!

Facebook users flagged a post that continued to make the round well after it had been debunked.

“Breaking: Woman says she was offered big money by Washington Post to accuse Roy Moore of misconduct,” stated a Nov. 13 headline in Evening World.

The article is based on a since-deleted Twitter account and is fake.

The website based the claim that a Post reporter offered money to a woman by citing the Twitter account of @umpire43 who identified himself as Doug Lewis #MAGA.

“A family friend who lives in Alabama just told my wife that a WAPO reporter named Beth offered her 1000$ to accuse Roy Moore????,” Lewis tweeted Nov. 10.

One of the Post reporters who wrote about Moore was Beth Reinhard. The Washington Post firmly denied the allegation.

The account user had a history of perpetuating hoaxes.

The Daily Beast reported that the author of the account had repeatedly invented stories about his own background claiming to be a Navy veteran, a pollster, a baseball umpire, an expert on rigged voting machines, an American consulate worker in Calgary and “a beleaguered soul who needed time off after the 9/11 attacks when he saw Muslims ‘dancing on rooftops.’ ”

The Daily Beast contacted all of his alleged employers and affiliates and found that he hadn’t held any of the positions.

A complete lack of proof is a fast track to our worst rating, Pants on Fire.

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“Woman says she was offered big money by Washington Post to accuse Roy Moore of misconduct.”

The claim: Moore’s accuser arrested and charged with falsification

The rating: Pants on Fire!

A spoof story on the website USA Mirror News carried the headline, “Roy Moore’s accuser arrested and charged with falsification.”

The article said, “Alabama Attorney General John Simmons filed charges of falsification (against) Mary Lynne Davies, who said Roy Moore seduced and molested her when she was 14 years old.”

Where to begin with the fabrications?

The actual Attorney General is Steve Marshall, not John Simmons. And there is no Mary Lynne Davies who has accused Moore. Nine women have come forward and there’s not a Davies among them.

USA Mirror News hasa disclaimer on its navigation bar, should any reader care to click on it, that says it is a “satirical publication that may appear sometimes to be telling the truth. We assure you that’s not the case. We present fiction as fact and our sources don’t actually exist.”

There’s nothing fake about that. The story itself rates Pants on Fire.

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“Roy Moore’s accuser arrested and charged with falsification.”

THE REPUBLICAN TAX FRAUD AGAINST THE NON TOP 1% RICHEST

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class


A statue of George Washington stands in the Capitol. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
 December 9 at 7:16 PM
The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive brand of economic populism as it moved through Washington.The bill was supposed to deliver benefits predominantly to average working families, not corporations, with a 35 percent tax cut Trump proposed on the campaign trail as part of the “Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act.”

“The largest tax reductions are for the middle class, who have been forgotten,” Trump said in Gettysburg, Pa., on Oct. 22, 2016.

But the final product is looking much different, the result of a partisan policymaking process that largely took place behind closed doors, faced intense pressure from corporate lobbyists and ultimately fell in line with GOP wish lists.

As top lawmakers from the House and the Senate now rush to complete negotiations to push the tax plan into law, it amounts to a massive corporate tax cut, with uneven — and temporary — benefits for the middle class that could end up increasing taxes for many working families in future years.

 3:19
5 tax issues Republicans need to resolve in conference

Now that the Senate and the House have passed two tax bills, there are some crucial differences they need to resolve in conference.

All told, the plan would cut taxes for businesses by $1 trillion, would cut an additional $100 billion in changes to the estate tax for the wealthy, and spreads the remaining $300 billion over 10 years among all households at every income level.

White House officials defend the tax bill emerging from the House and Senate negotiations, saying it follows through on Trump’s long-held promise of benefits for the middle class through a combination of exempting more income from taxation, expanding a tax credit benefiting families and cutting business taxes in a way that will flow through to workers in the form of higher wages.

“The middle class gets a tremendous benefit,” Trump said Wednesday.

Yet a review of more than 40 public statements that stretch back to the 2016 campaign and interviews with key officials in the White House and Congress shows how Trump and his top advisers have continuously prioritized corporate cuts — even though they have promised that middle-class cuts would be their focus.

Over several months, tax cuts for families were either stymied or scaled back. And corporate benefits only grew, a development that increasingly made some Republicans nervous as they saw the bill’s true impact.

“Fundamentally, the bill has been mislabeled. From a truth-in-advertising standpoint, it would have been a lot simpler if we just acknowledged reality on this bill, which is it’s fundamentally a corporate tax reduction and restructuring bill, period,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.). “I think they were particularly concerned about innuendo and what that might mean, so it was labeled as a middle-class tax cut.”

Big promises

After Trump was elected, his transition advisers faced immediate questions about whether he’d hold true to his promise of a tax cut focused on the middle class.

They could not have been clearer.

“Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes would be offset by less deductions, so there would be no absolute tax cut for the upper class,” Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman and future Treasury secretary, told CNBC.

Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, dubbed it the “Mnuchin Rule.”

After Trump was sworn in, his top aides immediately began discussions with House and Senate leaders on how to combine his campaign promises with long-held GOP views that cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations ultimately benefit workers.

Inside the White House, Trump was being urged by his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, a key voice behind the president’s economic populism, to hit the very wealthy.

At a meeting in April, Bannon urged that the Trump tax plan create a new 44 percent tax rate on income above $5 million, said three people briefed on his proposal who weren’t authorized to talk about Oval Office discussions. He argued that this was a way to ensure that the wealthiest Americans didn’t benefit too much from any changes and that working-class Americans could support the proposal.

Bannon “pushed that for several weeks as a way to gather political support for the tax bill. He’s more of a populist, obviously,” said Steve Moore, a conservative economist who helped Trump craft his tax plan during the campaign.

Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, both former bankers at Goldman Sachs, argued against the 44 percent tax rate, saying such a high rate would harm investment, pile up costs for small businesses and ultimately hurt growth.

As Trump neared his 100th day in office in late April, he was becoming restless because he didn’t have a concrete tax plan.

So he ordered Cohn and Mnuchin to present a version of the tax plan to the public by April 26. They scrambled to put together a one-page blueprint that called for lowering tax rates on all Americans and exempting more income from federal income taxes. The document said it would “provide tax relief to American families — especially middle-income families.”

But there was no mention of a 44 percent rate. Rather, the document revealed other clues that foreshadowed how the tax plan would take shape. It called for eliminating the estate tax and the alternative-minimum tax and lowering the top income tax rate — changes that would all benefit the wealthy.

As they faced questions about those provisions, White House officials began to walk back the promises about the wealthy not winning in the tax plan.

“What I said is the president’s priority has been not cutting taxes­ for the high end,” Mnuchin said in May at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2017 Fiscal Summit. “His priority is about creating a middle-income tax cut. So we’ll see where it comes out.”

Abandonment

Just after midnight on July 28, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) shocked the Republican Party by voting to end a GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The summer had made at least two things painfully clear to Republican leaders.

There was virtually no hope of getting Democrats, even red-state moderate Democrats such as Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) or Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), on board with the plan. That meant Republicans were going to have to make it on a party-line vote, and, as the ACA experience had reminded them, they had only two votes to spare.

So leaders began to make a priority of what they thought the entire party could rally around: big corporate tax cuts. The idea of reducing tax rates on American businesses had been core to the identity of the Republican Party ever since President Ronald Reagan did it as part of a comprehensive tax overhaul in 1986.

Within the White House, Cohn and Mnuchin were running the show. Bannon, a deeply controversial figure in the administration, had left, a voice for a more populist tax plan exiting with him.

On Sept. 27, the White House and GOP leaders issued another tax blueprint, this one called the “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code.” It proposed reducing the current seven brackets in the individual tax code to as few as three, dropping the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and creating a new rate of 25 percent for millions of companies that pass their income through to partners and sole proprietors, changes that could help small businesses but also law firms and professional sports teams.

Nonpartisan tax experts estimated the vast majority of the plan’s benefits would flow to the wealthy. Trump, by contrast, insisted that it would help the average worker.

“Our framework includes our explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected,” Trump said on the day of the plan’s release. “They can call me all they want. It’s not going to help. I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me. Believe me.”

His advisers couldn’t say the same.

“When you’re cutting taxes across the board,” Mnuchin told Politico, “it’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy with tax cuts to the middle class.”

Seeking balance — and failing

Until now, Republicans had the benefit of not explaining how they’d pay for their tax overhaul, which was going to cost trillions of dollars without offsets. Ultimately, Republicans agreed to borrow up to $1.5 trillion to finance the tax cut.

The $1.5 trillion ceiling on borrowing would ultimately force Republicans to make tough trade-offs between helping the middle class on the one hand and the wealthy and corporations on the other.

In writing their bill, House GOP leaders had created a new $300 “family flexibility credit” that could help Americans lower their taxable income. It wasn’t large, but it would be widespread — and an easy way for Republicans to show they were trying to help the middle class.

But the night before they would release the bill, when top tax writer Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) was trying to sort out the tax changes and monitor the performance of his Houston Astros in the final game of the World Series, they made a major change to this provision, according to a person briefed on the changes who was not authorized to discuss private congressional deliberations.

Corporations were concerned their tax cut would last only eight years, a limitation that was necessary to keep the bill under the $1.5 trillion limit. Brady agreed. So in a last-minute decision, Republicans cut the duration of the family tax credit in half — ending it after only five years — to make the corporate tax cut permanent.

In effect, Republicans handed $200 billion from families to corporations. (GOP aides said, however, that the situation was fluid and that they always had hoped to make the corporate rates permanent.)

On Nov. 16, the House passed the tax overhaul, 227 to 205.

Senate doubles down

The Senate would take the principle of Brady’s last-minute move and extend it further by making virtually all of the tax cuts for families and individuals sunset after 2025.

GOP leaders tried to explain this discrepancy by saying they needed to give businesses long-term assurances about the tax environment so they could invest and make plans, but it fed into allegations from Democrats that the package was meant for businesses and the wealthy, not the middle class.

“We had to thread the needle,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in an interview. “Why did we make it permanent for corporations? Because they have to make investment decisions.”

Senate Republicans had hoped to pass their tax cut bill on Nov. 30, but there was a last-minute­ insurrection led by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who was concerned about the impact of the bill on the federal deficit.

Corker’s queasiness forced GOP leaders to search elsewhere for assurances that they had the votes to pass it, and that led them into the expensive demands of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Johnson wanted a significant expansion of “pass through” tax cuts that benefit business owners who pay their taxes through the individual code. Although he and others described the beneficiaries of the pass-through rate as primarily small businesses, nonpartisan tax experts say it mainly benefits the top 1 percent of earners.

Ultimately, Johnson managed to extract an additional $114 billion in tax cuts for these entities out of GOP leaders.

Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Susan Collins (Maine) were pushing proposals that would expand a child tax credit for working families, offsetting the cost by slightly bumping up the corporate tax rate.

“You’re telling me that if we have a corporate tax rate that goes from 35 percent to 20.94 percent, that [will] hurt growth?” Rubio asked on the Senate floor. “Twenty percent is the most phenomenal thing we’ve ever done for growth, but if you add 0.94 percent to that, it’s a catastrophe? We’re going to lose thousands of jobs? Come on.”

His amendment was voted down 71 to 29, and the bill’s other tax changes were still alluring enough to attract Rubio’s, Lee’s and Collins’s support in the final vote. Only one Republican, Corker, voted against the measure, out of concern that it would drive up the deficit.

A complete picture

GOP leaders are now working to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills, but the broad contours have come into focus.

The legislation would lower taxes for many in the middle class, but mostly temporarily, and fall far short of the 35 percent cut for everyone in the middle class that Trump promised last year.

For example, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has estimated that in 2019, a household earning between $50,000 and $75,000 would save $780 a year if the Senate bill’s changes become law. This is essentially an 8.9 percent tax cut.

Beginning in 2023, households that bring in less than $30,000 would all average a tax increase, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeepers. And by 2027, all income groups that earn less than $75,000 would see their taxes go up. That’s because although the bill allows all the individual tax code provisions to expire, it retains a less generous method of calculating inflation than are currently in use, which effectively pushes workers into higher tax bracket faster.

Larry Kudlow, who advised Trump during the 2016 campaign and is a big supporter of the tax cuts for businesses, said the changes for individuals and families amounted to a “mishmash.”

Asked if the tax package in aggregate would mean a middle-class tax cut, Edward Kleinbard, a former chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation, said: “That’s delusional or dishonest to say. It’s factually untrue.”

He added, “The only group you can point to that wins year after year and wins in very large magnitude is the very highest incomes.”

White House officials defend the temporary nature of many of the tax cuts, saying they will inevitably be extended by a future president and Congress because they are politically popular. They also say the tax savings for middle-class families would be much larger than outsiders have suggested, particularly when factoring in an expansion of a tax credit for working families.

Still, on Wednesday, for the first time, Trump acknowledged that some Americans may not benefit from the tax package, and he said they would try to make last-minute changes. But he didn’t specify what they might be.

“There are very, very few people that aren’t benefiting by it, but there’s that tiny little sliver, and we’re going to try to take care of even that very small group of people that just through circumstances maybe don’t get the full benefit of what we’re doing,” he said at a meeting with his Cabinet. “But the middle class gets a tremendous benefit, and business, which is jobs, gets a tremendous benefit.”

Erica Werner and Paul Kane contributed to this report.

Republicans Are Looting the Treasury While They Still Can

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE NATION’ NEWS MAGAZINE)

 

Republicans Are Looting the Treasury While They Still Can

They know a backlash is coming, and they’re making the most of their power while they have it.

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The Republican Senate Tax SCAM Bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

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CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images

As more senators show signs of sacrificing their principles and embracing the Republican tax bill for minor and nebulous concessions, it bears looking more closely at the process that produced this terrible legislation and some of its lesser-known provisions.

The Senate tax bill, a 515-page mammoth, was introduced just last week, and the chamber could vote on it as soon as Thursday. This is not how lawmakers are supposed to pass enormous pieces of legislation. It took several years to put together the last serious tax bill, passed in 1986. Congress and the Reagan administration worked across party lines, produced numerous drafts, held many hearings and struck countless compromises. This time it’s not about true reform but about speed and bowling over the opposition in hopes of claiming a partisan victory. The country ought to be dismayed by the way senators like Bob Corker, Susan Collins and Ron Johnson appear to be backing away from their principled objections based on half-measures promised by President Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that will not address its big flaws.

This rush to the Senate floor has been orchestrated by Mr. McConnell, following the same playbook he used in the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The longer people have to study the details, the less likely the bill is to pass. People should know by now about the big stuff: the giant permanent corporate tax-rate cut, the small and temporary tax cuts for the middle class, the repeal of the A.C.A.’s individual mandate and the $1.4 trillion added to the federal deficit over 10 years. But other provisions are not as well understood and deserve to be called out. Here are three.

PICKPOCKETING THE MIDDLE CLASS: Like the House tax bill, the Senate measure would change how the government adjusts tax brackets and other tax provisions for inflation, replacing the Consumer Price Index with the chained Consumer Price Index, which tends to increase at a slower rate. While most taxpayers would not notice an immediate impact, the effects would compound over time as more low- and middle-income families are pushed into higher tax brackets, and as working families receive less help through benefits like the earned-income tax credit.

Over the next decade, changing the inflation measure would mean that families would lose $134 billion by paying more in taxes and receiving fewer benefits than they would under current law, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. The increase will be even bigger in future years: $31.5 billion in 2027 alone.

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HIDDEN GOODIES FOR BUSINESS: While families would be hit with tax increases, corporations stand to reap even bigger tax cuts under certain conditions. That is because the bill contains a tax-cut provision that would automatically kick in if the government took in more money than its accountants are projecting right now. Businesses could pocket an extra $79 billion in 2027 because of that measure, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Proponents of the tax cut might argue that the government should give back money if it collects more than it expected. But there’s still going to be a gigantic deficit, and — surprise, surprise — there are no similar givebacks for individuals.

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A BREAK FOR BOOZE: The Senate bill contains a special tax cut for makers of beer, wine and spirits, for no particular reason. (Perhaps it’s because these companies are doing their patriotic duty of keeping Americans in good cheer.) It would reduce levies on beer, wine and liquor produced in or imported into the country, and, while described as a boon for “craft beverage,” it would benefit the entire industry, saving it about $4.2 billion over 10 years. This is particularly galling because taxes on alcohol have not increased since 1991 and are calculated without an inflation adjustment, which means they have already shrunk substantially over time.

These policy changes, smuggled into the bill to please big Republican donors, would never survive a more transparent process. History will remember them for what they are: smaller scams aimed at winning support for a much bigger one.

Republican Tax Plan Is Designed To Raise Working Class Peoples Taxes?

(I GOT THIS LITTLE ARTICLE FROM A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE ON FACEBOOK AND HE GOT IT FROM THE NEWS GROUP ‘LIBERAL EXAMINER’)

 

John Harvey shared Liberal Examiner‘s post.

1 hr · 

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Republican Texas Congressman of 32 Yrs Sends His Naked Pictures On Twitter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Texas Rep. apologizes for not having ‘better judgment’ after anonymous tweet of graphic image

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Barton announced plans to seek re-election to Congress earlier this month
  • He is the longest serving member of Congress from Texas

Washington (CNN)Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton on Wednesday apologized for not using “better judgment” while separated from his wife and in consensual relationships with women.

The statement comes in response to an anonymous tweet that included a nude image of Barton. Sarah Dodd of Dodd Communications, who is helping Barton respond to the image, confirmed that the image is of him.
“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” Barton said in a statement first reported by The Texas Tribune. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”
Dodd told CNN that Barton did not release the image himself and does not know who did.
“It’s really a violation of his privacy,” she said.
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Barton, the longest serving member of the Texas House delegation, had announced plans to seek re-election to Congress earlier this month. Dodd said that Barton “is not resigning.”
AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said that the Wisconsin Republican had spoken to Barton, adding, “We will keep those conversations between the two of them.”
Dodd said that Barton is using her firm to handle this matter rather than his congressional office because “it’s the holiday weekend” and there have been “a lot of calls” about the image and he needed the “extra help.”
Dodd would not comment as to whether Barton expects other images to surface

Trump And Clinton’s Are Proof Sexual Harassment And Sexual Assault Mean Nothing

DONALD TRUMP AND BILL CLINTON ARE NEON PROOF THAT SEXUAL ASSAULT/HARASSMENT MEAN NOTHING

(SEXUAL ASSAULT IS NOT A REPUBLICAN NOR A DEMOCRATIC ISSUE: IT IS A LEGAL AND A MORAL ISSUE!)

As about every one here in the U.S. know, and probably in all other countries as well, if you are very rich, well-connected, or are in a powerful job, you can treat women like insignificant sex toys. Ever since that well-connected Hollywood Producer finally got called out for his sexual crimes and this “#ME-TO” group got started a few days afterword, it seems that everyday more people are being called out for these crimes. In our society we tend to think of men sexually pushing themselves onto women and I believe that in probably 90+% of the real world cases are such, men against women. Yet folks we must also realize that there are cases of powerful women ‘forcing’ themselves sexually on some men and upon some other women. Also there is the reality of men ‘forcing’ themselves sexually on other men. There are some gay men and some gay women who are guilty of these crimes also.

 

In our society we have known for many decades that men, and women, are being raped while in prison. In our society it is so bad that people make jokes about when a guy gets sent to prison that his rear end is going to be getting torn up. Folks this is not funny, it is not humorous, it is mentally and morally sick! Back in 1978 I worked as a state prison guard for about two weeks in Illinois. I had a couple of family members in State Prisons before but I wanted to have a better understanding of what they had to live through, other than just from the ‘visiting’ room. I never witnessed a rape while I was there but I did hear some guards laughing about ones that they had ‘set up’ against some prisoners, they thought such things as prisoners getting gang raped was hilarious. I know that when I was in my early 20’s that I had several times that gay men tried to insist that they could force their wishes on me even though I had made it very plain that I was totally straight and told them to leave me alone or they would end up getting hurt. Unfortunately, there were several times that I had to make my point more clear to them when they refused to leave me alone.

 

Now, I would like to get to the headline of this article, people like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and we should add in others like George H.W. Bush and his ‘little me’ George W. Bush. Even well before Bill Clinton of Donald Trump were elected President most everyone should have know that these two men were nothing but sexual predators, yet both major political parties endorsed these two criminals to lead their party. Think about it, millions of men and women voted for them anyway. Right now Mr. Trump should be in a federal prison cell, right next to Bill Clinton. Think about this issue also please, both of their wives know exactly what their husbands are and yet they are still married to them and still support them. Now lets talk about the disgusting old fart George H.W. Bush. Folks evidently he is still, even from his wheelchair, sexually assaulting women, and his wife Barbara is standing right next to him in some cases, just smiling. Now, the reason I think that ‘Little Me’, George W. Bush belongs in this scum pile. Do you remember when he was President and he was at a gathering of World Leaders in Europe when he came up from behind the seated German Chancellor Angela Merkel and started massaging her shoulders and upper back? Do you remember how she yelped because she had no idea this moron was either behind her nor that he was fixing to physically put his hands upon her? For George W. to have so casually done this to a woman in such a camera filled event, what do you think he does to women, whom he doesn’t even know, where the cameras aren’t at?

 

Friends, until the people of the United States physically force these perverts to be put into prison for their sexual assaults, they will continue. If we the people do not right now force these people out of their positions and insist on long prison terms for them and for their wives (because they are accessories to their crimes in some cases) as they just go along with the flow per say, these crimes are only going to get much worse. Right now if you are paying any attention to the National News stations we are seeing the proof of what I am saying here today. Examples of our First Lady, she just stays totally silent, obviously ‘living the life style’ is more important to her than her own personal integrity or the lives of the women her husband molest. Look at how Hillary Clinton is acting about all of these men being brought out into the open! She is only verbally attacking the men whom are Republicans and she is staying quiet about the accused Democrats and about her own husbands continuing assaults on women. Donald ‘the Fraud’ Trump, do you notice how he will blast accused Democrats yet stay totally silent about this anti-Christian dude in the Alabama Senate race as well as being totally silent about the dozens of women that he has sexually assaulted himself? And speaking of this child molester in Alabama how even his wife is verbally and physically ‘standing behind her man’?

 

Just as I was getting ready to close this letter to you a ‘Yahoo notice’ just popped up on my computer saying the following “President Trump discounts assault accusations against Republican candidate Roy Moore, saying Alabama voters ‘don’t need a liberal’ in that Senate seat”, end of quote. Remember, Mr. Moore is a former DA and a former Alabama State Supreme Court lead Judge. Also notice these facts, this fraud we have as our Nations ‘top Cop’ (Attorney General) Jeff Sessions held the Senate Seat Mr. Moore is trying to fill. Mr. Sessions has personally know Mr. Moore for decades down in Alabama, is this why the Attorney General isn’t having him arrested and put into prison? Is this a case of the ‘good ole boy system’, especially being they are of the same ‘anti-Christ’ political party? Folks, I am not a Democrat either, they have proven themselves over and over to be just as bad or even worse that their Republican bedfellows. Either ‘We The People’ stand up as one and physically throw these pieces of trash out of ‘Our Government’ or we as a Nation deserve to have these pieces of trash as our ‘Leaders’. My personal bet is that the Democrat Doug Jones will win the Senate seat in Alabama on December 12th then hopefully that will be the start of sweeping the human feces’ out of Our Political System, the business world and out of Hollywood. If not, we have no one to blame but ourselves!

 

 

The unbearable hypocrisy of Roy Moore’s Christian rhetoric

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS ‘THINK’)

(OPED: FAKE CHRISTIANS, PEOPLE LIKE MR. MOORE AND DONALD TRUMP ARE THE EPITOMY OF ‘LUKE WARM WATER CHRISTIANS’, JUST LIKE THE FAR RIGHT OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, IT IS THESE ‘FAKE CHRISTIANS’ WHO ARE DESTROYING THE REPUTATION OF CHRISTIANITY!) (trs)

Rev. Dr. William Barber The unbearable hypocrisy of Roy Moore’s Christian rhetoric

This isn’t Christianity, it’s an extreme form of Republican religionism.

Image: Embattled GOP Senate Candidate Judge Roy Moore Attends Church Revival Service At Baptist Church In Jackson, Alabama Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images

A disturbing pattern has emerged since the Washington Post first reported that four women accused Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of offenses ranging from the creepy to the criminal. People in Gadsden, Alabama, where Moore worked in the District Attorney’s office three decades ago, say it was “common knowledge” that Moore pursued teenagers when he was in his 30s. Locals told the New Yorker that they recall being told that the local mall banned Moore for the same reason.

Accusations of criminal assault are difficult to prove in court and the statute of limitations in these cases has since passed. But Republicans outside of Alabama have started to back away from Moore following the allegations; They have chosen to believe the accusers.

Moore’s base, on the other hand, continues to support him despite the evidence. For many of them, this is a matter of faith. Jerome Cox, the pastor of Greenwood Baptist Church in Prattville, Alabama, told NBC News he would be supporting Moore because “he’s done a lot of good for the state of Alabama… Everything else is for the Lord to sort out.”

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This is not Christianity. Rather, it is an extreme Republican religionism that stands by the party and regressive policy no matter what. It’s not the gospel of Christ, but a gospel of greed. It is the religion of racism and lies, not the religion of redemption and love.

It is unlikely that any of Moore’s accusers can definitively prove that he sexually assaulted them 30 years ago (a point the defiant former judge knows well). But even before these allegations made national headlines, it was clear that Moore’s policy agenda endangered the children of Alabama and this nation. This man, who wants to be Alabama’s next Senator, wants to repeal Obamacare, making it health care inaccessible for millions, in Alabama and elsewhere. He has said Islam is a “false religion” homosexual conduct “should be illegal.” and curtail equal protection under the law for gay and transgender people. Moore supports a tax plan that would hurt the poor and working poor.

In short, Moore’s political agenda presents a credible threat to millions of vulnerable people in America. Yet Moore claims to be the moral and Christian candidate, using religion as U.S. slave masters did before him to justify actions which fly in the face of Christ’s teachings. Like segregationists, Moore imagines the struggle for equality in America as a story of loss. At a revival meeting earlier this week, Moore complained that he was being persecuted. He also lamented the fact that the courts took prayer out of schools in 1962 and made a cryptic and confusing reference to “new rights” created in 1965, the year the Voting Rights Act was signed. Some members of the congregation responded, “Amen!”

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 Workers remove a monument of the Ten Commandments installed by Roy Moore in the Alabama Judicial Building in 2003. Tami Chappell / Reuters File

As one who survived abuse by a stranger in my own childhood, I feel deep empathy for the women who have come forward to name and confront their abuser. At the same time, my soul grieves as a Christian minister for people who are fed such a distorted view of Christianity and racism that they are willing to support Moore no matter what. I have heard the confessions of abusers: I know that people who are broken and hurting in their own souls hurt people and rally others to join them out of deep pain. But I am deeply troubled by Moore’s determination to wrap his own painful policies and pain-causing ways in the theological claim of being like Christ.

There is nothing Christian about the policies Moore has supported. They are as immoral as the terrible abuse he so vehemently denies. While he wants to compare his plight to the suffering of Jesus, there is no biblical basis for policies that hurt poor people and children.

As well as he knows his Bible, Roy Moore never quotes from the more than 2,000 verses that exhort us to care for the poor, the sick, and the stranger in our midst. He has apparently overlooked the prophet Isaiah, who said to men like Moore in his own day: “Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims — laws that make misery for the poor, that rob the destitute of their dignity, exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children” (Is.10:1-4).

National Republican leaders who claim the moral high ground while renouncing Moore now are like the Republicans who spoke out against white supremacy after Charlottesville, condemning the “hate” but never repenting of white nationalist policy. Their moral outrage rings hollow because it renounces Moore based on his personal patterns but says nothing about the disturbing pattern of his policy agenda.

What is happening right now in Alabama matters for the soul of the nation. Anyone who has any influence must help blacks, progressive whites, and Latinos; gay and straight; Christians, Muslims, Jews, and all who want to move our country forward to get out and vote. This is no time to retreat or remain idle. We must stand up for truth in the public square and reclaim our political and faith traditions which have been hijacked.

Rev. William J. Barber, II is President of Repairers of the Breach and author of The Third Reconstruction. At the invitation of local clergy, he is in Alabama this weekend preparing for the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.”

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