President Trump Is Correct About Putting America First

TRUMP PUTTING AMERICA FIRST IS THE ONLY CORRECT THING TO DO

 

As anyone who reads the Blog surely knows by now, I am not at all a fan of Donald Trump. It is difficult for me to think of a civil word in the concept of describing this person. Those who follow this Blog also know that I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton so I hope that you understand this article today is not about being a Democrat or a Republican as I am neither. So far though I do believe that the Republican Party is bringing much harm to themselves by standing behind this President. I do believe that if the Republicans have not gotten the guts to stand with the Democrats and to impeach Trump from Office before the November 2018 Mid-term Elections they are going to get slaughtered in those Elections. On a side note, I also feel that the Christians who are standing with this President are doing a great dishonor to Christ and His Holy Name as there is nothing holy about Mr. Trump. It is right and correct to pray for our Leaders but it is sinful to back sinful policies in the name of Christianity.

 

Now to the main headline of today’s commentary. Ever since Mr. Trump in his Campaign started using the slogan ‘America First’ he has drawn a lot of fire and anger from ‘the left, Democrats and liberals’. To me this anger is total stupidity! I do totally believe that Mr. Trump is a total racists but I do not at all consider this ‘slogan’ to be racist in any way. If Mr. Trump was saying something along the lines of ‘Whites First’ then yes, that would be totally racist. Yet any Leader or want to be Leader of any country who doesn’t create policies to put his own Nation first has no business being a Leader of that Nation. Think about it for a moment, if Mr. Trump’s slogan was ‘China First, or Russia First’, do you think that the American people would have elected him?

 

If Chancellor Merkel of Germany vocally or via policies said her goal is to put the EU before Germany should be voted out of Office? If Prime Minister May of England did the same thing, should she be the Prime Minister? How about President Jinping of China, if he was pushing a policy of Japan first, would he still be the President of China? How about Mr. Putin of Russia, if he was saying ‘America First’, would he still be the President of Russia? What I am saying is, of course Mr. Trump should put the interest of America first, if he didn’t, wouldn’t he then be a traitor to his own Country? What I am saying is, just because you or I believe this person (I have a hard time calling him a man) to be ignorant self-centered scum of the Earth, it does not mean that everything he says is wrong nor from his racist Soul.

Jeff Sessions’s marijuana crackdown is going to make legalization more likely

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

The Plum Line

Why Jeff Sessions’s marijuana crackdown is going to make legalization more likely

 January 5 at 2:06 PM
 1:42
What Jeff Sessions thinks about marijuana

What Jeff Sessions thinks about marijuana 

Jeff Sessions hates marijuana. Hates it, with a passion that has animated almost nothing else in his career. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” he has said. He even once saidabout the Ku Klux Klan, “I thought those guys were okay until I learned they smoked pot.”

He says that was a joke, but even so, it still says something about where he’s coming from.

So if you’re wondering why Sessions has endured the humiliation of being demeaned and abused by President Trump and stayed on as attorney general, one big answer is the policy change he announced this week, that he is rescinding an Obama-era directive that instructed federal prosecutors not to prioritize prosecuting businesses like dispensaries in states that had legalized cannabis. Sessions is finally getting the chance to lock up all those hippies, with their pot-smoking and their free love and their wah-wah pedals and everything immoral they represent. He’ll show them.

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So what happens now? The emerging legal picture is murky, since a lot depends on the individual decisions federal prosecutors will make. The political picture is somewhat clearer: This is bad news for Republicans.

Let’s start with the legal questions. The 2013 Obama administration letter that Sessions rescinded, called the Cole memo (you can read it here), told federal prosecutors that in states that had legalized marijuana, they should use their prosecutorial discretion to focus not on businesses that comply with state regulations, but on illicit enterprises that create harms like selling drugs to children, operating with criminal gangs, selling across state lines and so on. In other words, prosecutors could still fight the drug trade, but if a state has legalized marijuana and put in place its own regulatory system, they should leave those operating within that system alone.

There’s also a provision in the federal budget known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that forbids the Justice Department from using any resources to interfere with the provision of medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. Right now there are 29 states that have put in place some kind of medical marijuana system, in addition to the eight states (plus the District of Columbia) that have either legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana or set up an regulated system for the commercial sale of the drug. The most important is California, which as of the beginning of this year has legalized sales for recreational use.

So is every U.S. attorney in those eight states immediately going to start busting down the doors of marijuana dispensaries?

“I don’t think so,” said Tamar Todd, senior director of the Office of Legal Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, whom I spoke to this morning. “There’s plenty of drug law to enforce” when it comes to the illicit market, she noted, and federal prosecutors rely on cooperation with state authorities in much of their prosecutions of drug cases.

Going after state-licensed dispensaries or grow operations, furthermore, would leave federal prosecutors isolated. In states with legal marijuana systems, such a crackdown would produce an outcry from both Democrats and Republicans, in addition to state government and law enforcement officials. Federal prosecutors “lack the resources to go into California and enforce the marijuana laws against everybody, so federal interests are really best served by them teaming up and working with the states,” Todd says, “not using their resources to disrupt how the states are trying to responsibly regulate, which is just going to cause more harm for everyone.”

That doesn’t mean that a motivated U.S. attorney — a Sessions mini-me, if you will — couldn’t go on a crusade in his or her district and start prosecuting every marijuana operation in sight. While the Obama administration policy let states know they could craft their own regulations without fear of the feds coming in and wrecking everything they were trying to do, now there’s much more uncertainty.

“It does open up the opportunity for the rogue U.S. attorney who’s not about protecting the public but is more about an ideological opposition to legalization,” Todd said, “to prove that legalization doesn’t work by creating chaos and disruption.”

Even if that doesn’t happen, or happens only here and there, the Trump administration has sent a clear message to the public that it wants to turn back the clock on our nation’s drug laws. There’s no doubt that Sessions is sincere in his desire to do so, but politically it could be a disaster. According to the latest Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans favor legalization, including a majority of Republicans. There could be a dozen more states considering some form of legalization this year, either in their legislatures or through ballot initiatives, which will only bring more attention to the issue and set people’s own states against the administration. Just yesterday, the Vermont House of Representatives voted to legalizepersonal possession and cultivation of marijuana, and the bill is expected to pass the state Senate and be signed by the governor. They won’t be the last.

That the Trump administration is doing something so unpopular will put a lot of Republicans in a very awkward position, particularly if they come from a state like Colorado or California — precisely the representatives who are going to be most vulnerable in this November’s elections. Many of them have released outraged statements condemning the decision, but it might not be enough to persuade voters not to punish President Trump by voting them out. A member such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (whose California district was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016) can cry to his constituents that he opposed the marijuana crackdown and the tax bill (which cut back their deduction for state and local taxes), and they might listen. But in a year of a Democratic wave, they might also just decide to sweep him out with the rest of the GOP.

So the end result of this policy could well be to accelerate the liberalization of the nation’s marijuana laws. A backlash could help more Democrats get elected, and push elected Democrats to more unambiguously support legalization. Don’t be surprised if every Democrat running for president in 2020 favors ending the federal prohibition on marijuana and returning the question to the states. One potential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, has already introduced a bill to do just that.

Which will set up an interesting dynamic, in which Democrats are the ones arguing for pushing back against the heavy hand of federal power and letting states decide for themselves what they want to do. The traditional GOP position on states’ rights was always opportunistic, something they favored only when states were doing something they agreed with. But that will just be one more reason this is an issue Republicans want to run away from, and Democrats are eager to talk about.

So Sessions may get what he wants for now. But in the end, he probably did a great service to the legalization movement.

Republican Christians: Quit Being Hypocrites, Put Up, Or Shut Up

 

I use the name Truth Troubles for this Blog Site for a reason, it is because in many cases the ‘truth’ can be inconvenient for our ego’s. Politicians are great at telling people they are speaking the truth on a subject matter when in fact only about 1% of what they are saying is actually the truth. You see, that is speaking the truth, they just don’t tell you about the 99% BS that goes along with their version. When you step on the witness stand in a court room you are told to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God. Folks, that, is the only truth, God’s truth, not some version or percent of it.

 

In November of 2016 ‘we the people’ mainly had two horrible habitual liars to choose as our President, which one was the worse for our Country, that is debatable. Weather the Democratic Party or the Republican Party is the most evil is also easily debatable, personally I have no faith in either of them to ever be truthful with the American people. The Democratic Party and their platform of supporting abortion at will make it impossible for many Christians to vote for a Democrat knowing that they will endorse this policy. Yet this article today isn’t about the Christians who vote for Democrats, today, this article is about the Republican Party and their own ‘unholy’ policies.

 

I say unholy policies because of their own ‘platform’ issues. This newest Republican Tax Plan is a good example of the cold-hearted nature of their base beliefs. This Bill is 1,997 pages long, the reason is simple, there are many items other than changing the Tax Code in that Bill. If it were just a simply straight forward Tax Code Bill how many pages would it be? Really, think about it, should it be more than 2 pages, 5, or maybe 10? How about even 100 pages, you can put a lot of words in 100 pages. In this bill are items like not reimbursing teachers for the supplies they have to buy out of their own pockets so their classrooms can have the basic supplies they need. Also items like stopping assistance to the ‘Meals on Wheels’ program which helps feed the poorest of the poor ‘shut in’s’. Also stopping all the funding for PBS. Stopping many of the Federal Grants for poor kids to help them go to College thus also massively hurting thousands of Colleges and Universities. In this Bill is also massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare which will cause many millions of Americas poorest people to lose their only Insurance. This will also cause many small hospitals around the Nation to have to close as people will again be having to go to their E.R. services when they get sick or injured and when these people can not pay their bills, the Hospitals will go out of business.

 

The Lord tells us all to be kind and charitable, giving and loving. The Republican Party very plainly caters only to the wealthiest 10% or so of our population. Think about this one fact for a moment please, I was born back in the mid 1950’s, in my lifetime there has not been one single minimum wage increase when there has been a Republican in the White House, not one. Trickle down economics does not work folks. It is like saying that the richest folks will be gracious and allow some of the crumbs to be swept onto the floor so the poor don’t starve to death. And the only reason they allow the crumbs is because the working class is the ones who make the products that make the rich, richer. If the people starve to death it might hurt their profit margins. If you think I am being to hard on some folks just think about the Stock Market for a moment. President Trump likes to talk about how well the Market is doing and that is a good thing folks, but the trouble is that it is a horrible thing for the people who can’t afford massive amounts of those Stocks. When a company lays off hundreds or thousands of employees their Stock value goes up right away. When a company moves out of the U.S. to a ‘Third World’ country for cheaper labor costs, their Stock value goes up right away. When Wal-Mart and Target recently gave all of their employees a raise, their Stock value went down right away.

 

Most of us know that many of the largest American companies are flooded in cash right now and that this cash is sitting in offshore banks. This is not illegal if they have followed all of the existing laws in their putting it there, in fact that is quite smart of them. If the CEO’s weren’t taking advantage of these loopholes their stock holders would vote them out of a job. I have heard several times on different news programs where Executives have commented that they have no place to invest this money so they are just hanging onto it as they are looking for better ‘deals’. So, this talk about caring about the wages and living conditions of the working class is really just a bunch of BS. If these companies were paying better wages and benefits to their workers then the whole economy would prosper. If the government actually raised the taxes on the major companies and closed off all of their built-in loop holes then the Nation could invest in our Nations roads, bridges, city infrastructures, education system and health care system.

 

The Democratic Party has lots of its own sins but as I said this article today is about some of the sins of the Republican Party and the Christians who keep putting their ‘Name, their stamp of approval’ to them. If you are a Christian and you are a voter and you choose to vote for any Republican then it is your Christian duty to insist that the Republican politicians start acting like God-fearing Christians or make it very plain that they no longer have your vote. Charity, kindness, love, compassion are staples of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Folks, the teachings of the Republican Party are exactly the opposite of the teachings of Jesus! So, if you are a Christian and your are a voter, start acting like you know and care about the teachings of Christ and force the hand of these Republican politicians. Either that or simply quit supporting them, otherwise we are nothing but a hypocrite, we are not a follower of the teaching of Christ!

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.)

Continue reading the main story

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?”

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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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.

Continue reading the main story

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’)

 

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