Treason = Impeachment = Hang Them High?

 

This article to you today is simply my attempt to get you to think about some very serious issues with our (the U.S.) government that does effect every person in this country as well as in many other Nations.  I’m writing this article in the form of ‘what if’s’. What if President Trump really isn’t the legitimate President and that ends up being proven beyond any reasonable doubt? Pretty much everyone on earth except Donald Trump knows and understands that the Russian government with orders from their President attacked the voting computers of 21 states during the 2016 U.S. elections. It is only logical that being if in deed Mr. Putin wanted Mr. Trump to win that election he would only target states that were expected to be somewhat close. If the Russian hackers had been ignorant they would have targeted states like New York and California where Hillary was going to win by huge amounts. If they had done that then everyone would have known that the machines had been compromised. Swinging a states numbers that were very close, say 52% to 48% for Hillary to a 52-48 for Trump would be believable. If this is what did happen and it can be proven, now what folks?

 

If Mr. Mueller and his team can prove that Mr. Trump along with members of his family and staff colluded with the Russian government to steal the election, is this treason? Personally I believe that it is, also personally I then believe that everything that Mr. Trump and the Congress has signed into law since January 20th of 2017 would have to be removed. Without a doubt this would really be a mess like this Nation has never had happen to us. For those of you who do not know me, do not get me wrong, I personally can’t stand the lying witch Hillary either and no, I did not vote for her, nor did I vote for Mr. Trump, I voted for Gary Johnson. There are some things that I believed about Hillary and Donald before the election in November of 2016 and nothing has changed my beliefs on these two since then. First, I believed that both people are total egomaniacs and both are totally habitual liars who will do anything for money or to win. Now the difference that I see in the two is that in my opinion Hillary is totally evil but she is also very smart, on the other hand Donald is very evil but he is about as ignorant of a person that I have ever come across. So, for President, should I have voted for a smart evil person or a dumb ass evil person? Which one would be the least evil for the American people? I thought Hillary would win and I do believe that she did, so I voted for a person that I knew very well was not going to garner more than a couple of percentage points.

 

Okay, I have made my point that I believe that Donald Trump, members of his immediate family and members of his personal staff are guilty of treason against the American people. Now I wont you to consider another issue please and this is the Republican Congress and the Republican Senate. Unless a person is clueless to reality it is very obvious that the majority of the Republicans in the Congress and the Senate can not stand Donald Trump as a person, yet they have in almost all issues sided with Mr. Trump on programs that Mr. Trump has wanted to make into law. The reason is simple folks, the Republicans realize that with a Republican in the White House they are able to get some of their own personal agenda passed into law, things like the new tax law and getting more Republicans onto the Supreme Court. This sickening display of cowardliness and treason by the Republican leaders like Senator McConnell is enough to make an Independent puke at the sight of their face and unfortunately he is my home state Senator so I see his face often. In the past I have voted for Republicans and Democrats at about a 50/50 clip but because of the disgusting display of Republicans kissing the ass of this dangerous un-genius stupid ass I will never ever vote for another Republican for any office at any level of government. Here is another slap of reality though, I totally believe that if Hillary was the current President the Democrats in the Congress and the Senate would be doing the exact same dirty tricks for her. Neither one of these ‘Parties’ gives a damn about the United States or of our people, they only care about their selves.

 

Now, what should ‘We The People’ do about it when Mr. Mueller and his team prove that these people have committed treason against us? Should we insist that those in Office be impeached as once? Should we insist that all of those folks be put into a maximum security prison for the rest of their lives and have all of their assets stripped from them and sold to the highest bidder with the proceeds put toward the National Debt? Should people in the Congress and the Senate like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell suffer the same fate as those in the Executive Branch? Should they all be made an example of like being shot by a firing squad, or better yet, hung from the Statue Of Liberty for defiling Our Constitution and of ‘We The People’ of OUR NATION? What do you think should be done to these people if they are proven to be the Criminals that they all appear to be?

The Answer To Why Trump Won’t Except That Russia Messed With 2016 Election

 

Folks there is one main reason that President Trump refuses to accept that Russia messed with the Presidential election in 2016. This reason is simple, if he did except that his good buddy Vlad and his KGB (FSB) operatives did interfere with the election he, ‘Mr. Trump’, would have to concede that not only did Mr. Trump lose the popular vote but that he did also lost the Electoral College vote as well, meaning, he ‘Mr. Trump’ is not legally really our President. He would have to except that he is ‘a loser’.

 

I know that I am not a genius, unlike Mr. Trump, who just can’t admit that he is a dumb as a box of Donkey dung. Yet I, unlike Mr. Trump do have the ability to be honest with reality. Sometimes I am able to look at an issue with an open mind as to the concept of what is or would be logical. Concerning the 2016 elections, before they ever happened I looked at them and thought about how could a group of very smart hackers mess with the election results to get Mr. Trump elected or, to make sure that Hillary wasn’t elected. My thoughts then and now were/are that if someone like Mr. Putin wanted to help make sure that Hillary whom he hates did not win the Presidency, how could he do it? How could you throw the election for a major underdog? To me the answer is and was simple, you attack the U.S. system through the States, not through a National computer system. Our Intelligence Agencies say that Russian hackers infiltrated the computer systems of 21 States in the last election. All that they had to do was flip the votes in a few of the States where they thought that Mr. Trump was going to be close, say 2, 3 or 4% points less than Hillary, which would be within the ‘margin of error’ and flip the vote totals.

 

Folks if Mr. Putin was able to help ‘flip’ just 3 or 4 of those States to Mr. Trump, he would have been able to win the Electoral College vote, giving the election to Mr. Trump. Now, simply what happened in that election? Mr. Trump pulled out a few States that he wasn’t expected to win in very close vote totals, he won the Electoral College vote while losing the popular vote by about five million. I said before, during and after the election that this is how they would do it if they were able to infiltrate the system. All of our Nation’s Security Agencies say that Russia did interfere. As I said, Mr. Trump can not say there was interference unless he admits that he indeed lost and that he is not our Nations legally elected President.

 

Now, if Mr. Trump was/is removed from Office, as he should be, what then, who would, should, be put into Office? For those of you who don’t know me, I detest Hillary Clinton as much as I detest Donald Trump, I am not a Democrat nor a Republican, I am a non-partisan Independent. I looked at both Hillary and Donald as being as crooked as two human beings could possibly be, I still feel this way. During the last elections the way I was seeing it was the fact that Hillary is very intelligent and dog leg crooked and Donald was a total dumb-a–. So we the people were going to end up with a crook as President no matter what, it just depended on whether we wanted one that was worldly smart, or one that was a total idiot.

 

Now to be honest with you I don’t know how things would be handled if Mr. Trump was evicted from Our White House, so here is just some guesses. Obviously something like this has never happened since we became a Country, so what would the Washington D.C. politicians decide, or would it, should it be decided by the Supreme Court? But to go through the Court Mr. Gorsuch would also have to be removed from the Bench thus leaving the Court with 8 members, pretty much 4 Republican and 4 Democrats. Mr. Pence would have to be removed with Mr. Trump because he was also not really elected to the Post of V.P.. So here is my guess, if the Supreme Court was not able to decide then I would guess that Congressman Paul Ryan would have to take the Podium, at least for a while. Do you let Mr. Ryan be President until new elections this November? At that time do you let Hillary become a one term 6 year President? Do you hold all new Presidential Elections in 2018 then again in 2020? Lots of questions friends, lots of questions. If we think that there is gridlock and bought and paid for politicians in D.C. now, what would it be like for the Country if this current ‘Coward-in-Chief’ is impeached and the current V.P. isn’t allowed to ascend to the Presidency? Lots of questions friends, but what would the real and final answer be?

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

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

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.

10COMMENTS

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?”

If Not For President Putin, Bernie Sanders Would Be The U.S. President?

If Not For President Putin, Bernie Sanders Would Be The U.S. President

 

Folks, this article to you this evening is obviously just my opinion but if I did not believe that it was correct I would not waste my time or your time with it. Last fall the American people really only had two choices that we were being allowed to have in our vote for our next President. We had the reality that we were either going to have as our next President “Crooked Hillary”, or we could have Donald “Fake News” Trump. During the campaign (DFNT) used as one of his slogans concerning “Crooked Hillary” was “lock her up.” This was even though he knew darn well that if he won that he was not going to pursue this venture, just as he knew that Mexico was not ever going to pay far any wall. If you are one of the few people in the world that didn’t know it before he stole the election from Hillary (because of Putin), he “the Donald” is and has always been, an habitual liar.

 

As I am sure you caught it, my statement about this Fraud in Chief steeling the election from Hillary, I do actually believe that is correct. Personally I believe that Russian hackers were able to infiltrate several of the State election systems thus taking a few of the States away from Hillary and giving them to Trump, thus swinging the election to him. I do believe that history will prove this as a fact but, what about now? What do we as the American public do about having a FRAUD President in the Oval Office? If he is impeached and imprisoned for the rest of his life as he should be, who takes his place, Mike Pence, the VP? But since Trump is illegally in office, Mike Pence is not legally the VP so it is unfair to allow him to be put into the Office of President, so now what? The next in line would Constitutionally have to be the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. But for how long? Personally the most honest answer would be to swear Bernie Sanders into Office for one seven-year term with that being a one time gig for him, no second term.

 

As I stated above, I totally believe that Trump and Putin stole the election from Hillary, but, and it is a big but, she stole the Democratic Nomination from Senator Bernie Sanders. Hillary illegally took over the controls of the DNC rigging the process so that only she could win the Nomination. By the events that I have been learning, Hillary is guilty of several frauds, tax evasions, among several other Felonies. So, it is my honest opinion that if President Putin had not interfered in our elections the Democratic Nominee would be our President right now. The only one of the three biggest candidates (Trump, Hillary, and Sanders) who are not guilty of mass felonies is Mr. Sanders. So, in my opinion Mr. Sanders should be awarded the Presidency ASAP. The other two pathetic egomaniacs should be put into Fort Leavenworth Prison for the rest of their lives. This is just a short oped, just wanted to tweak your thoughts to see what you think. Just think of all of the damage that Donald Trump has done to our country here and abroad in this 10 months he has been sitting in the White House. I do have to wonder how the world would be different if we didn’t have this idiot moron of a fool pretending to be the American President.

Paul Ryan Debated a Nun and the Nun Won

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE NATION.COM’)

 

Paul Ryan Debated a Nun and the Nun Won

Challenged by a former educator, the Speaker of the House got everything wrong—factually, and morally.

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Factory deal Trump touted puts the ‘con’ in ‘Foxconn’ — and how taxpayers will get taken

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

How a factory deal Trump touted puts the ‘con’ in ‘Foxconn’ — and how taxpayers will get taken

The entirety of President Trump’s job-creation strategy was visible July 26 during a White House ceremony to announce a deal bringing a $10-billion video-screen factory for the Taiwan electronics company Foxconn to southeastern Wisconsin.

The elements included a claim about the number of jobs that was unverifiable and not believable; a description of the cost and terms of the $3 billion in tax incentives dangled in front of Foxconn that concealed their astronomical cost for Wisconsin taxpayers; the presence of political sycophants (in this case, Vice President Mike Pence, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and House Speaker Paul Ryan, [R-Wis.]) to attest to Trump’s role in negotiating the deal; and grandiose assertions by Trump himself that it’s all about him: “If I didn’t get elected, he wouldn’t be spending $10 billion,” Trump said of Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, also in attendance.

Left unexpressed were doubts that the factory would ever actually be built, and that even if so, it would employ the extraordinary workforce of 13,000 that was claimed. Reporters on hand might have delved into that issue, but no questions were permitted.

So let’s provide some of the context that was overlooked on that occasion. Experts who have examined the proposed deal, which must be approved by the Wisconsin Legislature, have concluded that it won’t begin to pay off for state taxpayers for more than two decades, if then — or ever.

A good portion of the jobs will go not to Wisconsin workers, but to residents of Illinois, meaning that Wisconsinites will pay, and their cross-border neighbors will profit. The deal would exempt the Foxconn plant from a host of environmental regulations, placing the local water supply and ecology at risk.

In other words, the announcement was all flash and precious little substance. But what substance is known is disturbing.

“This is a transfer of wealth from Wisconsin taxpayers to Foxconn shareholders,” says Greg LeRoy, the head of Good Jobs First, which tracks government economic incentives handed over to corporations. LeRoy observes that even if the plant reaches its projected complement of 13,000 workers, that means the deal would cost about $230,000 per job.

“The average worker at Foxconn is never going to pay $230,000 more in state and local taxes than the public services she and her family will consume during her work tenure there,” he says. “For the taxpayers, it’s a guaranteed loser.” If the size of the workforce falls short, he noted, the cost per job could be much higher.

Under Gov. Walker, who briefly ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, Wisconsin has been something of a sinkhole in economic development schemes. After Walker privatized the state’s main job-development agency, it became ensnared in scandal after scandalwhile failing to make much of a mark on job growth. The defining job program of Walker’s administration was a $6-million grant in 2014 to Ashley Furniture, which was allowed to lay off half of its 3,800 Wisconsin workers as part of the deal. A few weeks after the grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. was approved, Ashley’s owners donated $20,000 to the reelection campaign of the development group’s chairman, Gov. Walker.

The Foxconn proposal boasts similar elements of a glittery political veneer concealing signs of rot from the inside out. One blow was landed in Madison on Aug. 8 by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which analyzes bills with budget implications. Among other points, the bureau pointed out that Foxconn would receive at least $1.35 billion and possibly as much as $2.9 billion in tax incentive payments even if it didn’t owe any Wisconsin tax, that increased state tax revenue from job growth wouldn’t offset the incentive spending until at least 2042 — and then only if the full complement of 13,000 jobs was reached and all went to Wisconsin residents.

But the bureau acknowledged that anywhere from 10% to half of the jobs could go to nonresidents. That’s because the proposed factory site in the Racine-Kenosha area — Paul Ryan’s home district — is within easy commuting distance of Illinois. If there are fewer jobs, and fewer go to state residents, the bureau said, the break-even point could be years or decades later.

Whether the plant ever will host 13,000 workers is doubtful; the legislative analysis acknowledged that some estimates place the probable payroll as low as 3,000. Trump touted the plant as a “state-of-the-art manufacturing facility,” but state-of-the-art electronics factories are replacing human assembly workers with robots, a trend the efficiency-minded Foxconn is unlikely to abandon.

The most important aspect of Trump’s participation in the Foxconn announcement may be what is says about his job development policies. They don’t seem to be aimed at anything special except generating photo opportunities. Foxconn itself is getting a reputation for making lavish promises and letting them lapse, as appears to have been the case with a project the company touted for Harrisburg, Pa., in 2013. That deal was for a $30-million plant employing 500 workers. But the plant hasn’t materialized.

Ever optimistic, Pennsylvania officials participated in a seven-state beauty contest Foxconn staged this year, playing Pennsylvania and Wisconsin off against Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Texas in its quest for the most lavish state and local incentives. This race to the bottom has the effect of all but eliminating any genuine economic gains the ostensible winner can claim from landing the plant.

Yet Trump explicitly endorsed such interstate shakedowns in December, when he bragged about keeping a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana. Employers “can leave from state to state and they can negotiate good deals with the different states and all of that,” Trump said then. “But leaving the country is going to be very, very difficult.”

Even Trump’s victory in the Carrier episode was predictably ephemeral. Even though the company supposedly pledged to retain more than 1,000 jobs rather than move them to Mexico, in June it emerged that Carrier will lay off more than 600 of its workers by the end of this year.

In Wisconsin, Foxconn is insisting that the state Legislature enact the package of proposed incentives by the end of September, or no deal. That means that for all the preening at the White House last month, the deal may end up like others sponsored by Trump and offered by Foxconn: real hype and false hopes.

Senate returns more pessimistic than ever on healthcare

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWSPAPER)

Senate returns more pessimistic than ever on healthcare

Senators went into a recess skeptical over whether they could agree to legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

They will return on Monday more doubtful than ever.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) most loyal allies, said Thursday that it’s “unlikely” the GOP will get a healthcare deal.

“I don’t see a comprehensive healthcare plan this year,” he told a local news station.

Senate Republicans hoped to have a draft bill this week, but it now looks like there will at best be an outline.

A Senate Republican aide said it’s too early to begin drafting legislation that can come to the floor in the next few weeks.“Parameters are more likely,” said the aide, who explained that McConnell wants to keep the details held closely so the legislation doesn’t get picked apart before lawmakers have a chance to consider it carefully.

“The last thing we want to do is litigate this in the press,” the aide said. “We want to discuss parameters and concepts without releasing a draft.”

“Maybe they can start talking to members about a specific product next week, but I would not be surprised if we don’t,” said another Senate GOP aide.

More unhelpful news came in the form of a Kaiser Family Foundation poll underscoring how unpopular the bill approved by the House is.

It found that three-quarters of Americans surveyed think the House bill does not fulfill President Trump’s promises on healthcare.

A full 82 percent said federal funding for ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid should be continued, an issue that deeply divides the Senate GOP. The House bill ends the ObamaCare funds in 2020.

Yet another factor for Republicans is Trump’s approval rating, which has fallen to its lowest point with Republicans since he took office in the latest Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll.

Republicans already had sought to lower expectations.

McConnell conceded last week that, “I don’t know how we get to 50 [votes] at the moment.”

He sounded more optimistic about passing major tax reform legislation, rating its chances as “pretty good.”

Republicans control 52 seats and can afford only two defections from their ranks. Vice President Pence could cast the deciding vote in case of a 50-50 tie.

The Senate GOP hasn’t given up hope on healthcare and faces tremendous pressure from the White House and House Republicans to hold a vote.

Republicans for years have promised to repeal ObamaCare, so failure would be a major blow. They also face pressure to finish their work on healthcare because of the tax reform push.

The GOP is using special budgetary rules to prevent Democrats from filibustering legislation on tax reform and healthcare.

Republicans can’t move to tax reform until the healthcare debate is finished because once they pass a new budget resolution that would allow them to move tax legislation with 51 votes, they will lose the vehicle set up to enable a healthcare bill that would circumvent a Democratic filibuster.

Those on a special 13-member working group have heard very little about the drafting efforts that were supposed to take place over the recess.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) was to provide the framework in consultation with GOP leaders and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

A major sticking point in the Senate is Medicaid. The House bill would cut nearly $900 billion from the program and cap the federal contribution for expanded enrollment in that program by 2020.

Several Republican governors from Medicaid expansion states, led by Govs. John Kasich (Ohio) and Rick Snyder (Mich.), earlier this year came out against the House bill, warning that it failed to provide adequate resources.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he wants a more gradual “glide path” for capping the expansion, an idea not popular with conservatives.

Twenty Republican senators, including Portman, represent states that opted to expand Medicaid, and many of them worry that cutting federal funding will cause significant budget problems at home.

But another group of GOP governors, primarily from states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion, want to end federal support for the expansion.

Senators are divided as well over proposals to limit federal assistance for health insurance subsidies, which would hit older, low-income Americans disproportionately.

McConnell hasn’t set a deadline for passing the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, but he has indicated concern about the debate dragging on for months, which could imperil tax reform.

“We can’t take forever,” he told Bloomberg TV last month.

By raising doubts about the possibility of getting a deal that musters 51 votes, the GOP leader is putting pressure on his colleagues to either come together or move on before the August recess.

McConnell has told colleagues that the 13-member working group will put together a bill and that he will bring it to the floor for a vote, but he has stopped short of promising that it will pass — in contrast to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who earlier this year guaranteed that the House bill would pass.

If the Senate bill fails on the floor, McConnell is likely to declare the GOP conference has worked its will and move on.

Even as the House voted to narrowly pass the House’s American Health Care Act last month, there was already strong pessimism among Senate Republicans about the chances of putting together a comprehensive package in the upper chamber.

A senior GOP senator at the time said the chances of getting 51 votes for legislation based on the House healthcare bill were less than 1 in 5.

When House Republicans debated healthcare reform earlier this year, some of their Senate colleagues said privately that they thought it might be better if the legislation died in the lower chamber.

Trump’s Budget Scam

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO MAGAZINE)

I have a plan to dunk a basketball. First, I’ll grow a foot taller. Next, I’ll recapture the athleticism of my youth, so I can jump a lot higher. I didn’t say I had a serious plan—just a plan.

Today, the Trump administration released a plan to balance the federal budget over the next decade, and it’s no more plausible than my plan to become LeBron James. It does reveal the administration’s fiscal priorities, like deep cuts in spending on the less fortunate and the environment, no cuts to Medicare or Social Security retirement benefits, steady increases in spending on the military and the border, and an abiding faith in the restorative miracles of tax cuts for corporations and well-off families. But its claim to a balanced bottom line is based on a variety of heroic assumptions and hide-the-ball evasions, obscuring trillions of dollars’ worth of debt that it could pile onto America’s credit card.

Budget proposals always involve some guesswork into the unknowable, and administrations routinely massage numbers to their political advantage. But this proposal is unusually brazen in its defiance of basic math, and in its accounting discrepancies amounting to trillions-with-a-t rather than mere millions or billions. One maneuver in President Donald Trump’s budget arguably waves away an estimated $5.5 trillion in additions to the national debt from tax cuts, nearly $20,000 for every American alive today, enough to fund the Environmental Protection Agency at current spending levels for nearly 700 years. Trump critics in the budget-wonk world are pointing to another $2 trillion of red ink as a blatant math error—or, less charitably, as an Enron-style accounting fraud.

Numbers that huge tend to melt into abstraction. And the media will help downplay them by declaring the Trump budget dead on arrival in Congress, as if the fact that it won’t be rubber-stamped into law means that nothing in it matters. But a presidential budget is a detailed blueprint for governing—and in this case, the blueprint has a fair amount in common with blueprints offered by the Republicans who still control Congress. It matters for policy and it matters for politics.

It also matters that Trump’s numbers don’t add up. Whether or not you agree with the Tea Party philosophy behind the numbers, Trump and his hard-driving budget director, Mick Mulvaney, deserve credit for backing up their limited-government rhetoric by proposing $3.6 trillion in spending cuts, including politically courageous cuts in farm subsidies, rural development programs and other benefits geared toward Trump’s base. But they do not deserve credit for their aspirations to balance the budget, any more than I deserve credit for my aspirations to dunk. Budgets hinge on assumptions about taxes, spending and economic growth, and the Trump budget plays fast and loose with all three to try to achieve the illusion of balance, relying heavily on spectacular growth assumptions as well as vague and unrealistic promises to eliminate tax breaks and additional spending programs that go conveniently unnamed in the text. It proclaims that “we have borrowed from our children and their future for far too long,” but it is a blueprint for far more borrowing and far more debt.

Ultimately, the Trump budget reads like a corporate prospectus for a shady widget manufacturer who claims that cutting widget prices will spark a massive surge in widget sales, while also promising major cutbacks in ineffective widget salesmen and unnecessary widget costs. It doesn’t pencil out. And it’s worth understanding the main reasons it doesn’t pencil out, because soon Republicans in Congress will get to use their own pencils.

***

The Growth Spurt: Economic growth is as vital to balancing budgets as physical growth is to dunking basketballs. A booming economy means more tax revenue flowing into Washington, because workers have more income and corporations have more profits; and less federal spending flowing out of Washington, because fewer unemployed workers and poor families need the government safety net. “Economic growth,” Mulvaney recently said, “solves all our problems.”

So the Trump budget simply stipulates terrific economic growth. Specifically, it assumes the U.S. economy will expand an average of 3 percent per year over the next decade, more than 1 percentage point higher than the Congressional Budget Office assumes. And it uses that assumption to chop about $3 trillion off the 10-year deficit. “Everything is keyed to getting us back to 3 percent,” Mulvaney said Monday.

Terrific economic growth would be a terrific thing, and we should all hope for a recession-free decade of nonstop boom. But in the budgeting world, diverging that dramatically from the official forecasts is essentially cheating. President Barack Obama’s growth forecasts sometimes slightly overshot the CBO’s, but Trump’s gap with the CBO is nearly three times as large as Obama ever had in eight years. The U.S. economy hasn’t grown at a 3 percent rate for two consecutive years since 2000, which, not coincidentally, was when President Bill Clinton’s last budget balanced.

Trump aides say it makes sense to assume 3 percent growth, since it’s at the heart of the president’s promises to make America great again. Mulvaney calls it the guiding principle of Trumponomics, a rejection of the pessimistic notion that 2 percent is as good as it gets; he suggested yesterday that he probably should have assumed a more aggressive baseline of 3.5 percent or 4 percent growth, because 3 percent should merely be seen as normal. “Honestly, we have aspirations to do better,” one senior OMB official told me.

But 3 percent isn’t just something that will happen automatically, especially at a time when the population is aging, immigration is slowing and productivity is lagging. The Trump budget does not go into great detail justifying its growth assumptions, other than to suggest that rolling back onerous regulations and promoting domestic energy development will help the good times roll. It also suggests that one of the keys to the Trump boom will be tax reform, which happens to be the next area where its math gets fuzzy.

The Tax Dodge: So far, Trump has unveiled only a one-page summary of his tax reform principles, not tax reform legislation. Nevertheless, his budget “assumes deficit-neutral tax reform,” which is a bit like the old joke about the economist on a desert island who assumes a can opener. Trump’s tax reform principles, which he repeats on Page 13 of his budget, do not look deficit-neutral at all. Groups like the Tax Foundation, the Tax Policy Center and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget have estimated that they would add between $4 trillion and $6 trillion to the debt.

That’s because Trump’s principles look like they’re more about tax cuts than real tax reform. His budget proposes lower individual tax rates, lower corporate tax rates, lower investment tax rates, an end to the alternative minimum tax, an end to the estate tax and other tax relief. Its only proposal to offset the cost of those tax cuts is a vague pledge to “eliminate most special interest tax breaks,” but it specifies that tax breaks for mortgage interest, charitable gifts and retirement savings wouldn’t be included, while failing to specify the tax breaks that would be included.

The implication is that the tax cuts would stimulate so much additional economic growth that they would pay for themselves, a supply-side economic theory that has not worked out in practice. President George W. Bush’s tax cuts helped turn Clinton’s surpluses into gaping deficits; the state of Kansas recently had a similar experience of sizable tax cuts creating sizable budget shortfalls. Even the conservative Tax Foundation calculated that the growth effects from Trump’s proposed tax cuts would recoup less than one-third of the lost revenues.

The senior OMB official told me those nonpartisan analysts are all jumping the gun, because the administration really does intend to propose tax increases large enough to offset the tax cuts it has already proposed. It just hasn’t decided which loopholes and deductions it wants to close, so it didn’t mention them in its budget. “What the budget is saying is that tax reform will be paid for,” the official said. “There’s a large conversation to be had about how we’re going to do it.”

But the Trump budget doesn’t just assume that tax reform will pay for itself; it also predicts that the economic growth produced by tax reform will help pay for the rest of his budget, an additional $2.1 trillion windfall.

Budget wonks have seized on this as a classic case of double-counting, presuming that the administration was already relying on that growth to make tax reform deficit-neutral in the first place. That would be like proposing to deposit a $20 bill that you’re not even sure is yours in two separate bank accounts, except with 11 extra zeroes at the end of the bill. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers called it “the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.”

Mulvaney ducked the issue Monday, suggesting that the administration doesn’t yet have enough details in its tax plans to provide more accurate accounting. But the other senior OMB official told me the double-counting accusations are wrong, because the budget assumes tax reform will be deficit-neutral without taking growth into account.

In that case, though, a Republican administration is counting on unspecified tax increases to convert a plan that independent analysts believe will cost about $5.5 trillion in its current form into a plan that will cost nothing at all, and would somehow end up producing $2 trillion worth of deficit reduction through growth. It’s conceivable, but it would be more plausible if the budget had disclosed even one of those potential tax increases. It would back up Mulvaney’s rhetoric about “how important it was and is to this president to try and bring some fiscal discipline.”

The Two-Penny Opera: The Trump budget isn’t really about fiscal discipline, but it does have real elements of spending discipline. It includes more than $600 billion worth of Medicaid cuts on top of the more than $800 billion of cuts in the Republican health care bill that just passed the House. It would eliminate rural housing loans, home heating aid for the poor, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and dozens of other line items. It would slash funding for climate science, foreign aid, medical research, Social Security disability and food stamps. It would boost spending for the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Veterans Affairs for 2018, but it would cut the budget of every other Cabinet department.

Congress probably won’t embrace most of those cuts, but they’re specific proposals for cuts that would move the federal budget toward balance. That said, the largest chunk of Trump’s proposed spending reductions come from a non-specific and even less realistic “two-penny plan,” which would reduce nondefense discretionary spending by an additional 2 percent every year. That’s hard to fathom, because nondefense discretionary spending—which includes the FBI, the EPA, NASA and almost every other federal dollar that doesn’t go to the Pentagon or entitlements—is already at its lowest level as a share of the economy since the Eisenhower years. Trump is proposing to cut it by about one-third over a decade, a total of $182 billion by 2027, while continuing to boost the parts of it (like border security) that he likes. He wants to start in 2018 by eliminating agencies like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as programs like 21st Century Community Learning Centers, but he wouldn’t be able to re-eliminate them in the out years; he’d have to find new targets for cuts.

The OMB official told me that his agency has already begun a review of the entire federal bureaucracy with an eye to eliminating inefficiencies, and that it expects to have a streamlining strategy in place by next year to follow through with the two-penny plan. But even many Republicans who hold the purse strings in Congress are unenthusiastic about slicing billions of dollars out of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control or the State Department.

“Give me a break,” one congressional Republican appropriator told me. “A lot of the discretionary spending is already squeezed. You can’t get blood from a stone.”

***

It is tempting to dismiss the Trump budget because so much of it seems unlikely to become law, but it’s still a revealing window into the administration’s priorities. And just because a budget is declared “dead on arrival” does not mean it won’t influence the budget that eventually emerges on Capitol Hill; Trump’s budget may envision larger cuts than Republican leaders want, but it reflects many of the priorities that House Speaker Paul Ryan has included in his budgets in the past. It ought to be taken seriously if not quite literally, to borrow the cliché about Trump.

It just shouldn’t be taken as evidence of fiscal rectitude or a deep aversion to debt, which isn’t really what Trump is about. It looks more like a plan to cut taxes for the rich and spending on the poor, while covering up the effect on the debt by flagrantly violating Washington norms. And that’s exactly what Trump is about.

President Trump Lied About Wire Taps: He Needs To Quickly And Publicly Apologize To Mr. Obama

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Washington (CNN) House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that “no such wiretap existed,” citing intelligence reports to House leaders after President Donald Trump accused then-President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower last year.

“The intelligence committees, in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigations of all things Russia, got to the bottom — at least so far with respect to our intelligence community — that no such wiretap existed,” Ryan said in response to a question from CNN at a news conference.
Ryan’s comment comes as Trump and the White House have retreated from the President’s stunning accusation in a tweet two weeks ago.
“When I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes. That really covers — because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff — but that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, but that’s a very important thing,” Trump told Fox News Wednesday.
The four lawmakers leading the House and Senate intelligence committees looking into Russia’s interference in the US elections have all said they have not seen any evidence to back up Trump’s claims. The House Intelligence Committee has requested any evidence of a wiretap from the Justice Department by Monday.

Congress And Ethics: In The Same Sentence? Really?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

Inside the House GOP ethics debacle

A surprise move by a group of House Republicans to gut an independent ethics office caught leaders flat footed — and sparked a national backlash.

lede_170103_paul_ryan_louie_gohmert_msm_1160.jpg
Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert speak as Ryan enters the House floor. | M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

Just hours after Republicans voted to gut the House’s independent ethics office, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s phone started lighting up with calls and texts.

The California Republican had tried to warn his colleagues about the political risks of defanging the Office of Congressional Ethics during a closed-door, secret ballot roll call Monday night. And after that vote, a number of lawmakers who agreed with McCarthy raised serious concerns about approving the controversial pitch in a public vote the next day.

By early Tuesday morning, McCarthy, Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of GOP leadership realized the proposal was about to tank the entire House rules package — and implode the first day of the GOP-led Congress. They convened an emergency closed-door conference meeting around noon to discuss removing the ethics provision — but it was too late. Donald Trump had tweeted his disapproval, and the public outcry had risen to such a crescendo that all anyone wanted to talk about was an obscure House office few people had ever heard of just 24 hours before.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who added that the ethics snafu was an unforced error. “Sometimes people have to learn the hard way.”

House Republican’s push to neuter the OCE on the first day of a new Congress turned into a major public relations fiasco after the press, the public and president-elect himself came out against the move Tuesday. Trump, after all, ran on a platform of “draining the swamp” of an all-too-cozy Washington — a pitch that didn’t mesh well with the proposal to rein in oversight of lawmakers’ ethical issues.

So the opening of the 115th Congress, which was supposed to center on Obamacare repeal and GOP unity, ended up being being overwhelmed by another issue. That Ryan was re-elected speaker on the same day with only one Republican defection — a positive sign for a GOP leader who’s faced restive conservatives in the past — became a mere afterthought, for example.

Republican leaders vowed to revisit the issue over the summer, although Tuesday’s problems could provide a lesson. Given that they control all of the levers of power in D.C., Democratic resistance won’t provide the political cover it used to over the last eight years. Washington belongs to Republicans — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“I think a move in that direction would be bad policy and bad politics,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who blasted the refoms. “It’s probably not the way you want to start out [the new Congress].”

A number of Hill Republicans have been seeking to curb the powers of the ethics watchdog for years. Privately, they say the office is too aggressive, pursues baseless anonymous tips and has become an unfair burden, both financially and politically, on lawmakers. Each time members approached ex-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) about the matter, he deferred, saying this is something that should be done a bipartisan basis. But bipartisan reforms never materialized.

So Goodlatte, backed by a group of lawmakers who felt they had been wrongly accused by the OCE, devised a plan to rein in the office. They worked in secret for weeks, making sure word didn’t leak out to Democrats or the media. Then, just before House Republicans met to approve their rules package for the new Congress, they unveiled their amendment to scale back the powers of the OCE and put it under the House Ethics Committee’s jurisdiction.

The gambit caught leadership flatfooted, and Goodlatte’s side triumphed in the closed-door GOP meeting, but problems quickly developed. Democrats blasted Republicans for jamming through something so sensitive as their first act of the new Congress. Congress had created the office in the wake of Jack Abramoff scandal, which included the GOP lobbyist’s admission that he tried to bribe lawmakers. At the time, lawmakers hoped to stop anything like that from ever happening again.

Following a barrage of negative stories on Monday night, lawmakers were bombarded by a wave of phone calls to their offices criticizing the move. Republican leadership tried to change the narrative the following morning, although they never embraced Goodlatte’s proposal. Ryan put out a statement saying OCE was still independent despite the rules revisions, and McCarthy tried to argue the same during a press conference with reporters.

But that around the same time, Trump called out the proposal on Twitter.

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it,” Trump said in one tweet, adding, “……..may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS.”

Those tweets, on top of the thousands of phone calls and the wave of negative press, sources said, were the nail in the coffin. Republicans who had supported the idea the night before started to second-guess themselves.

“I don’t think there was any problem with the merit of the policy that needed to be changed. I just think it was how it was done,” said longtime Trump supporter Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) “The perception is not good.”

Barletta said Trump’s tweets at Congress are going to send “some shockwaves through Congress”— and they should probably get used to it.

“It’s going to send shivers down the spines of some members,” he added.

Democrats, meanwhile, decided in a closed-door meeting that they would protest the OCE change when the rules package came to the House floor Tuesday. They were readying a plan to pull out their cell phones and start livestreaming a demonstration on the House floor — something that irked House Republicans during the June “sit in” on gun control. (Republicans also included a provision in the rules package to fine members for violating the prohibitions on photos on livestreaming specifically. )

Just after 11 a.m., GOP leadership met in the speaker’s office. By then, everyone was on the same page: It was time to strike the ethics change. Leaders convened an emergency conference, just hours before members were sworn in, to try to convince their colleagues to take out the OCE language.

McCarthy told Republicans they did not run for Congress to fight over an obscure office but to repeal Obamacare and do tax reform — and it was time to scuttle the rules change. He gave them an option: vote now to strike the Goodlatte amendment, or he would offer an amendment to do so on the floor himself, taking the fight into the public sphere.

He met some resistance. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who’s been under criminal and ethical investigation for years, was irate that leadership wanted the conference to back off. Young, as well as Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Raul Labrador (R-Utah) tried to get leadership to commit to reforming the office by a specific future date. GOP leadership would not.

Other Republicans said Trump should not have gotten involved in the matter to begin with. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) stood up to say Trump should not be meddling in internal House matters, according to several sources in the room. Shuster’s spokeswoman Casey Contres denied that he used those words, but acknowledged that he “did express, however, the importance of separation of powers and Congress establishing these rules — not the executive branch.”

In the end, even Goodlatte backed leadership’s propose to strike his provision, blaming the press and his adversaries for “gross misrepresentation” of his proposal.

The day left some members shaking their heads. Many, including Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), left the chamber Tuesday night crossing their fingers that the drama of the first day would not foreshadow the next two years to come.

“I think that there is going to be a lot of tough votes we will have to take and this wasn’t one of the toughest ones, so, I think we should learn from this,” he said. “Once you launch that ship, you’ve got to keep going… We need to go forth with more sense of purpose and direction.”

Heather Caygle contributed to this report.

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