Friday, November 17, 2017

Senate Tax "Reform" Gives Breaks for Private Jets for Corporations and the Rich

Yes, a tax cut to help you manage the costs of your private jet. Gimme an f'ing break.

Yes, read this so you know this is real. The Republicans have gone off the deep end.

But, hey, this isn't just for the rich. The poor can take advantage of the tax break, too!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

GOP Finally Has the Math! Permanent Tax Cuts for the Rich and Corporations, Tax Hikes for the Middle Class (Bonus! Dump 15 Million's Healthcare)

To make the big ticket items in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent (and affordable to the budget), most of the individual (and paltry) cuts for the middle class expire within the ten-year window. What horrifying gall.

By phasing out what helps the poor, working, and middle classes within the ten-year window in order to pass the bill under reconciliation rules that allow a simple (Republican) majority, it allows the bill to make permanent the large tax cuts for the rich. The graph above tells it all. What a travesty.

For words to tell the story, read this, this, and this.

And check out this tweet and its thread:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Why Do Republicans Tolerate Roy Moore? Because They're the Party of Male Dominance

Political journalism has long languished in bothsidesism. It's not ever been true, and it's less true today than ever before. Why? Because each side is not at all like the other.

Can Alabamans hold their noses and vote for this man? Absolutely, and they will.

Not only does Roy Moore have a better than even chance of winning a Senate seat in the December special election, but he also has that chance because he actually represents the political and cultural views of the Republican Party.

The reason should be obvious by now. The Republicans represent an essentially white, male-dominated population, while the big-tent Democrats, by definition, must be inclusive. It's not surprising that blacks -- and women -- vote Democratic. Nor is it surprising that a male-dominated party would excuse sexual misconduct anymore that it should be surprising that a more diverse party should better represent the cause of racial equality. It's in the fundamental DNA of each.

As an exercise, consider this: Do you think that American society, so in thrall to the NRA, thinks that blacks should be as heavily armed as whites? To help you decide, picture what would happen if a cadre of black men clad in military-style clothing toting military-style assault rifles with a dozen high-capacity clips in their vests strode through the streets or parks of your town. Now picture a similar tableau featuring whites. Would the police handle each situation differently? As a clue, consider one such armed black man or one such white man. Who has the better chance at survival and why?

Case closed.

Now consider how Republicans reacted to the news that Donald Trump thought "grab them by the pussy" was an allowed tactic of seduction, or that a dozen or more women accused him of essentially doing just that. Reaction? Absolute abhorrence followed by fuck it, vote for him anyway.

Roy Moore may yet win his Senate seat, but at what cost? The cost will be cementing the Republican Party as the "grab them by the pussy" party. How do the Republican Party feel about that? Fine, as long as they can get their tax cuts for the rich, who will then continue to donate to them.

A few women here or there damaged and with their lives forever changed as long as tax cuts keep them in power? The GOP can live with that.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How (and Why) Faux News Keeps the Deplorables Misinformed on Sexual Misconduct and Stuff

There are two distinct sets of opinions: one belonging to those who know that Fox News is a propaganda arm of the Republican Party and another belonging to those at whom the propaganda is aimed.

Breaking News: Woman (a paid analyst) goes on Fox News to
misinform and distort in order to protect the rich and powerful,
who are predominantly men. (Wait. That's not news...)

A twist in the long and winding road that is Trump's first year in office has been the outing of rich and powerful men as sexual predators, highlighted by the news that many of their predations were (ugh) gross, disgusting, and frankly embarrassing to hear about. Coincidentally, Trump is one such predator, but, hey, he's exempt because with him IT'S ONLY LOCKER ROOM TALK.

Now that Roy Moore, darling of the evangelical gawd's-law set, has been named as a particularly odious form of the breed, Sean Hannity and his gang have ganged up to defend their tribe. The appearance of Mercedes Colwin made this whole affair all the more dismal with her claim that most women are liars.  
Colwin: Undoubtedly. I mean, there are individuals who will come forward with these outrageous allegations, and they fall… 

Hannity: And that hurts women who are victims. 

Colwin: Yes. I used to work in sex crimes in the DA’s office. It was very pitiful to see that. Because some jurors don’t believe it because they have, in their own lives, there are people who have made these accusations for money. You see this time and time and time again. And sexual harassment, that term is coined everywhere, frankly, the laws are very clear about what it takes to have some sort of violation of the law. You have to have some sort of damage. And these individuals, a lot of these women, it’s all about money, and they bank on the fact that these corporations have the reputation that they want to save. 
Hannity: And the hard—this is where you thread the needle, because there are women who are victims of predators. 

Colwin: Yes, there are. There are. But very few and far between. 
The vast number of women who claim sexual harassment and abuse are liars. Good to know, especially if your tribe is the Republican Party that needs to pass a tax cut to keep the big-money donors happy and can't afford to lose a Senate seat in Alabama, especially if they can't pass the tax-cut bill before a Democratic win there makes it even harder to pass the bill.

Okay, I get how this works now.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Wilbur Ross: Just Another Trumpster Who Can't Tell the Truth (about the Russians)

What made them think they could get away with their secret ties to Russia? Was it, maybe, the thought that the Republicans would let them get away with it? Are they actually right? Time will tell.

If you're stinkin' rich, you think you can get away with anything. Wilbur thinks so.

It turns out (surprise!) that Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross is thick as thieves with Putin's gang. That's bad enough in and of itself, but the man thought he didn't have to tell Congress, even after they specifically asked about it. Now it comes out:
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to disclose shared business interests with Russian President Vladimir Putin's family, according to documents obtained by several news organizations. 
The documents show that Ross still has interest in Navigator Holdings, which was partially owned by his investment company. Putin's son-in-law, as well as other members of the president's inner circle, control a Russian energy firm that has a relationship with Navigator.
[...]  Ross previously vowed to cut ties with more 80 financial entities that he has interests in, a move that won him praise from Republicans and Democrats.
Great. He says one thing, does another, and hides another. It turns out he's not alone.
The president's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn has held leading roles in 22 separate entities for Goldman Sachs in Bermuda between 2002 and 2006, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also directed a company in Bermuda in 1997, according to The Guardian. 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and House and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson are also mentioned in the leaked documents, according to The Guardian.
Okay, let's get this straight: One of the most "patriotic" presidents of the modern era who claimed he was going to drain the swamp has actually widened it and polluted it more, as well as populating it with all creatures great and greedy. They also have a taste for parking their American money anywhere but where they'd be taxed and actually have to chip in to pay for the great country they, er, serve.

Jennifer Rubin is not amused and points out what would, in less corrupt times, be the immediate impact of such a reveal. We'll see.

Friday, November 3, 2017

If Repubs Believed in Their Tax Bill, They Wouldn't Hide What's in It

What's been released so far about the GOP tax cut bill is only a discussion draft, with the real House bill set for release next week. What they haven't released are the details that show it to be a looting of the middle class on behalf of the rich business elites.

The tax bill should be called the Trump Family Tax Holiday Act.

Brian Beutler at his new site has a piece that's illuminating about the nature of the timing -- and subsequent discussion about -- of the Republican tax plan. If they were rightfully proud of it as good policy, they'd be out bragging about it.
Republicans know what they want their tax policy to do, it turns out, but they also know that they can’t disclose their intentions to voters, because voers will not like what they see. The plan is to increase taxes on millions of working people to finance permanent corporate tax cuts, and the eventual repeal of the estate tax for people like Ivanka Trump. And to shepherd it into law, they are reviving the same Secret-Bill Strategy they adopted unsuccessfully when they attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
What shocks me is that they are repeating all the missteps that they took in attempting to repeal the ACA: write a bad bill, hide its true details, lie about them when they come out, ignore the bad public polling, continue to negotiate in secret, and then try to rush the bill through on a party-line vote before the CBO can properly score it or either side, frankly, can get comfortable with what the bills actually mean. Result? The bills flopped.

Will this one suffer the same fate? So far, it looks that way.

If it does, it will be because it deserves to die:
This is a hastily compiled bill — lacking the thoughtfulness of the Reagan tax reform, for example — and its main purpose is to benefit the wealthy. It would harm many middle-class and low-income families in the short term and the vast majority of families in the long term. Don’t be fooled by anyone who emphasizes the bill’s modest middle-class benefits in its early years. (I explained the bait-and-switch in my column last week.)

The next few weeks will be important. Republican leaders have signaled that they will try to rush through a bill. They know it is already unpopular — as many polls, including a new one this morning from ABC and The Washington Post, show — and it’s likely to become more unpopular as it receives more attention.
You don't need me to find out all the opposition to this stinker. Sift through the usual news and opinion sites to discover the widespread disfavor.

So why are the Republicans even trying this? It seems likely because they can't help but return to their holy-grail-type quest, along with the dread that fills them that the donor class will abandon them ahead of the 2018 elections if they don't feed the moneyed beast.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Republicans Force Tax Cuts (for the Rich) Just Because (Their Donors Want Them)

Hey, GOP, no one else does.

Two stooges. Where's Mitch?

The only people who think tax cuts are a good idea are Republican congressional leaders:
Meanwhile, virtually every credible bit of public polling suggests that, if anything, ordinary American think that taxes on big business should be higher, not lower. In September, the Pew Research Center found that 52 percent of Americans thought that corporate taxes should go up; just 24 thought they should go down. In April, 67 percent of adults told Gallup that corporations paid “too little” in taxes. This week, CBS News found that 56 percent of its survey-takers favored a corporate tax hike, while only 17 percent backed a cut.
Even among the GOP’s base, corporate tax cuts simply aren’t that popular. Pew found that just 48 percent of conservatives who either identify as Republican or lean towards the party think that corporate taxes should come down; 49 percent thought they should go up or stay the same. Among all Republicans and leaners, including moderates, just 41 favored lowering the corporate tax burden.
Weird that the GOPers don't figure this out. "Must have tax cuts!" "Nobody wants them." "But must have tax cuts!"

They can't figure out how to pay for tax cuts no one wants, or needs.
Earlier Wednesday, tensions were running “very high,” said a source familiar with the eleventh-hour talks. Figuring out how to pay for final changes to accommodate Republican holdouts was just one of several issues that bedeviled Ways and Means members. It was not immediately apparent how they bridged that difference, though making the corporate tax cut temporary could be one of the strategies.
That wasn’t the only problem Republican leaders confronted. Republican tax writers could be heard speaking in raised voices Tuesday night during a more than two-hour meeting at the Capitol. Sources say there was some unhappiness among rank-and-file members who feel the plan has been written largely by party leaders without their input.
“Members on the committee feel their views are not being listened to,” the source familiar with the eleventh-hour talks said.
Oh, that secrecy shit. How'd that work our with repealing Obamacare? Meanwhile, observers begin to note that it's completely stupid, even suicidal to press on to gain their ONE FREAKING ACCOMPLISHMENT TO PLACATE THEIR BASE (you know, those people who aren't going to get anything from the tax cuts. Oh well.)
Look at this mess. Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, who is perhaps the worst legislative politician since the Five Minutes of Bob Livingston passed into history, desperately needs this win. Passage of this tax bill is the only reason he’s put up with the antics out of Camp Runamuck at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. But, unfortunately, those pesky 2018 midterms have put the gallows in everyone’s eyes, especially Ryan’s.
He has salivated for most of his career simply to do away with the estate tax, but he knows that’s also political poison, and that it would help balloon the deficit, which is something he’s supposed to care about, so he’s suggesting they phase it out, in the hopes that nobody will notice that the whole purpose of the thing is to give people like the president* and Paul Ryan the ability to make sure their grandchildren don’t have to work a day in their lives. Tampering with the state and local tax deductions will kill Republicans in high-tax states, where the party’s weak anyway. Capping the deduction for 401(k) contributions is another easy way to turn the middle-class into a ravening horde of angry beasts, and Ryan knows that, too. This would be a tough needle to thread even if Ryan were Sam Rayburn and, as a legislative leader, he’s proven to be closer to Gene Rayburn.
Paul Ryan has never been good at this thing, as Paul Krugman has gleefully pointed out (okay, maybe grimly pointed out) more than seven years ago.
Mr. Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, The Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.’s fiscal conscience. He’s often described with phrases like “intellectually audacious.”

But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.

Mr. Ryan’s plan calls for steep cuts in both spending and taxes. He’d have you believe that the combined effect would be much lower budget deficits, and, according to that Washington Post report, he speaks about deficits “in apocalyptic terms.” And The Post also tells us that his plan would, indeed, sharply reduce the flow of red ink: “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan would cut the budget deficit in half by 2020.”

But the budget office has done no such thing. At Mr. Ryan’s request, it produced an estimate of the budget effects of his proposed spending cuts — period. It didn’t address the revenue losses from his tax cuts.
That was then, this is now, and the flimflam doesn't work any better. Ryan's Republicans are trying this time to cut taxes by $5.5 trillion and look for $4 trillion in cut deductions to pay for them. That leaves at least $1.5 trillion in deficits, but for them that's okay (it's wrapped in their budget language, allowing them to do it without shame but most especially without anything but 50 senators plus the yes-voting-bot Mike Pence to break a tie).

This is crap, this is chaos, no one wants it, and it's suicidal for 2018, even though that's ostensibly what they're doing it for. But hey, MENTAL GIANTS 2018!!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

John Kelly Calls Robert E. Lee -- a Known Slave Torturer -- An Honorable Man

The big thing about the military and military service is honor, right? So what does it mean that a four-star general should so dishonor his service by his support for Robert E. Lee? (Pretty obvious answer: He thinks he's not dishonoring himself.)

From bad to worse: Get in Trump's orbit, you get trashed, and get revealed.

Who better to school John Kelly than Ta-Nehisi Coates? No one.

Also found in his thread is a comment on how under-the-radar-racist military service is.

For much more, read this Te-Nehisi Coates' Kelly takedown in Salon.