Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rex Tillerson May Be Replaced As Secretary of State

Signals are coming from the White House that Trump plans to replace Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo who Trump had put in charge of the CIA. Tom Cotton, a senator from Arizona, is rumored as the replacement for Pompeo in the CIA.  Pompeo and Cotton have demonstrated loyalty to Trump that ha beens much stronger than that of Tillerson who mistakenly believed that he was in charge of the State Department.  There is only one boss in the Trump administration.  He runs the government much like he ran his businesses.  He had no board of directors or stockholders to appease.  Neither Congress or the judiciary can expect to limit Trump's ability to run the government as he ran his businesses.

Rex Tillerson spent 41 years at Exxon Mobile where he worked his way up to the CEO position.  His first impulse as our new Secretary of State was to do what many CEO's do after reaching that pinnacle. He decided to reorganize the department and reduce the headcount.  Apparently, he believed that increasing the efficiency of the organization was his top priority.  Trump could care less about efficiency.  He only cares about personal loyalty to his greatness.  Tillerson mistakenly believed that he was in charge and that it was OK to be critical of Trump.  Pompeo will not make that mistake.

Its sad to witness the humiliation of Tillerson by the master of humiliation.  He will return to private life with a big scar that will last forever.  On the other hand, he will not be missed by many State Department professionals.  They did not respond well to a rookie boss with no experience in government.  Pompeo may not be a better leader at State but he understands who is really the boss.  He will shape the department to serve the Donald.

Tom Cotton as the head of the CIA creates another problem.  The CIA is supposed to be an apolitical organization.  The appointment of a Republican senator, loyal to Trump, is out of character for the CIA.  He will be viewed suspiciously by career employees in the CIA.  

The Self Destruction Of US Democracy

There has been a clear increase in the risk to democracy in the US.  This article provides a good description of the fault lines in our system of governance.  It took Trump only one year to weaken a system that took hundreds of years to develop.  Given the position of the US in the western world, the problems that Trump has created in the US have been exported to other nations.  Unfortunately, the Republican congress is willing to grant Trump the freedom to do whatever he pleases as long as he helps to sell policies which please their donors to the electorate. The Mueller investigation may uncover damaging evidence that can be used to defuse Trump, but our only real hope is to elect candidates to Congress who place the national interest above political party interest.  Three more years of Trump, with a Republican Congress behind him, may put an end to our experiment with democracy.

It is perhaps too easy to blame Trump for all of the problems with our system of governance. The fact that he was able to win the GOP nomination and the presidential election was a signal that something serious had gone wrong with our system.  Now it appears that Trump will succeed in selling a tax plan, designed to benefit Republican donors, and himself, as a plan designed to benefit less advantaged citizens. Our government established the FDA to make it more difficult to sell snake oil as a remedy for common health problems.  Trump is an expert selling snake oil that increases his power, and we don't have the equivalent of the FDA to deter him.  The press has done what it can to expose the snake oil but Trump, with some help from his friends, has been somewhat successful in convincing many Americans that the media are selling snake oil.  The fundamental requirement in any democratic system is a well informed public.  A public that is unable to discriminate between snake oil and effective medications will not enjoy the benefits of a democratic system for very long.  Snake oil is not only ineffective, it is deadly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How To Sell A Tax Plan For Corporations As A Middle Class Tax Cut

The Republican tax plan provides corporations with large permanent tax cuts.  The plan also provides temporary tax cuts to the middle class that disappear over a ten year period.  The middle class tax cuts have to be temporary so that the Republican Senate can pass the plan without any votes from Democrats. Senate rules allow the tax plan to pass with a simple majority as long as the plan does not increase the federal debt by by more than $1.5 trillion over a ten year period.  They only need 50 votes from the 52 Republican senators to get a simple majority since the Vice President can cast a vote to provide a 51 vote majority.

Some senate Republicans have issues with the tax plan.  Some are deficit hawks who object to any increase in the national debt.  Others would like to make a few other changes to please their constituents.  There is a lot of pressure on Republicans to pass any tax plan prior to the mid-term elections in order to demonstrate their ability to govern. However, the plan is not very popular with many voters who view the plan as a gift to corporations.  Democrats should have an easy time making that point in the mid-term elections.  The economics profession has many issues with the plan that raise important questions about GOP efforts to sell it as a plan for the middle class.  The odds are that some kind of bad plan will get passed.  We will have to see whether Democrats have the ability to convince voters that they cannot trust the GOP to look after their interests.

Trump's War Against The Free Press Supports Autocracy Everywhere

In Trump's mind the free press is his enemy.  He praises Fox News whose target market includes Trump's base, and he has been working hard to convince Americans that CNN and the major news media are sources of fake news.  Its easy to understand Trump's efforts to discredit the media at personal level.  Trump has an insatiable desire for praise and adulation.  He gets that from Fox News.  He does not get that from the mainstream media.  Even worse, the media does not pull any punches when they cover him and his administration.  They violate another of Trump's psychological needs.  He can't tolerate criticism, and he has no use for an objective coverage his policy proposals.  Whatever Trump claims is the truth as long as it serves his purposes.  He frequently alters his opinions on almost any topic when a "new truth" better serves his purposes.

This article reports on efforts to help Trump in his war against objective reporting.  A right wing organization tried to scam the Washington Post.  One of its stooges contacted a Washington Post reporter and claimed that Roy Moore had impregnated her and then forced her to have an abortion. That would have been a major story if it were true.  However, the reporter had several doubts about the woman's story and he did what good reporters in the "fake media" do.  He checked out the story and he found that it was fabricated.  He did not report her story and found that she was connected to a right wing organization that has a mission to prove that the mainstream media tell nothing but lies.

While Trump is unable to tolerate the free press in the US, he has taken his attack on the media to the international level.  CNN has an international audience and its reports and him and his administration has not been good for his self esteem.  Trump fired tweets at CNN's international reporting of "fake news".  His attack on CNN, however, goes beyond the damage that its reporting does to his self esteem.  His efforts to delegitimize objective media sources is consistent with efforts underway in many autocratic regimes to control the information that is provided to the public.  Trump is providing leadership to autocratic regimes everywhere.  One might be critical of government directed US news sources such as the Voice of America in places like Russia, but Trump is trying to discredit private sources of news like CNN which is primarily protected by its reputation for responsible journalism.  Trump understands this and that is why he doing what he can to attack their reputation.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Top Economists Agree About Two Outcomes From GOP Tax Plan

Republican politicians claim that their tax plan will stimulate economic growth.  They also claim that the tax cuts will stimulate enough growth to pay for the cuts.  A poll of 42 top economists shows that there is little support among economists for their claims.  They don't believe that the tax cuts will produce substantial economic growth, and they agree that the tax cuts will add substantially to the national debt.  That won't have much impact on Republican politicians, or on many of their followers.  The benefactors from the tax cuts don't really care about anything but a reduction in their taxes.  They are also the paymasters for their Republican supporters.  Furthermore, many low income Republicans don't really care much about what "elite intellectuals" have to say about tax policies.  They get most of their information from sources that are aligned with the Republican Party who claim that they offer "fair and balanced" news. They have a strange concept of fair and balanced news.  They exclude the views of top economists and they promote the views of paid hacks at conservative "think tanks" which are funded by the folks who benefit from the tax cuts.

The GOP tax plan also shows what Republicans really think about budget deficits and the national debt.  Budget deficits and increases in the national debt have been how they have paid for tax cuts in previous Republican administrations.  They prefer to pay for government by borrowing instead of taxing the income of wealthy Republicans. They also get to collect the interest on the debt by buying US treasuries.

Michael Flynn's Lawyers Have Stopped Communication With Trump's Lawyers

Michael Flynn's lawyers had been sharing information into his investigation by Mueller's team.  They informed Trump's legal team that they would no longer share information with them.  One of the implications of this decision by Flynn's legal team is that Flynn may be negotiating a deal with Mueller.  This is typical in these kinds of investigations.  Mueller may be offering Flynn more lenient treatment in exchange for information that he has about the Trump campaign.  Flynn may or may not reach a deal with Mueller but it would be significant if he chose to do so. Flynn has information about Trump and his campaign because of his position in the campaign.  Trump named Flynn as his national security chief after his election.  Trump also asked FBI Director James Comey to "go easy on Flynn".  Trump fired Comey after he refused to do so.

Why Paul Krugman Is Thankful But Worried About The Future

Paul Krugman was born during a period in which he was able to experience the promises of our democracy.  He probably would not have won a Noble Prize in economics if he were growing up in the America that developing today.  He lists the things that made it possible for him to live a good life and he describes the changes that are underway which will make it more difficult for others like him to have the same opportunities.  As you might imagine Trumpism is the enemy of middle class people like himself who has enjoyed the benefits of an open society that are being attacked by the Republican Party under Trump's leadership.  The majority of Republicans have come to believe that their culture and dominance is at risk because of intellectuals like Krugman and a  university system that promotes reason over blind faith and is supportive of an open society. The America that existing while Krugman was growing up is the enemy of the plutocracy that is working hard to destroy it through their sponsorship of willing Republican politicians and the private propaganda system that it has promoted.  Fox News, Breitbart News,  along with talk radio and the misuse of the social media, are their weapons of mass misinformation and the mass destruction of the social system that enabled Krugman to thrive.  We should keep his warnings in mind.  Social Democracy is the enemy of a rigid social economic hierarchy. The plutocracy is intent upon turning the clock back to earlier era in which the plutocracy had more control over our political and social system.  Communism used to be the enemy which they used to seek more power.  Since the demise of Communism, social democracy and liberalism is their new enemy.  Donald Trump told voters in Alabama to vote for Roy Moore because an accused pedophile was a better choice than a liberal democratic senator for Alabama.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thankgiving Thank You's For Donald Trump

Sarah Huckabee Sanders humiliated the White House press corp by demanding that they give a Thanksgiving thank you before any of them could ask a question.  Dana Milbank was appalled by her demand from the supplicant reporters, but he thought that it might be a good idea to report his Thanksgiving thank you's for giving us Donald Trump.  We have  lot to be thankful for.  Its hard to imagine how lucky we are to have the boss that she protects in the White House.  Dana Milbank's thank you's are well taken.  I'm sure that more could be added to his list, but The Donald is sure to add more to Milbank's list.  I can't wait for him to report his Christmas list. Trump is a political hack who never stops giving.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Why Will The GOP Punish Most Of Our Citizens By Pushing Terrrible Policies?

The short answer to the question raised above is that Republicans propose bad policies because they believe that they can get away with it. However, they were unable to pass a healthcare bill, that most Americans did not like, only because a couple of Senators voted against the bill that required almost unanimous consent from Republican senators.  Now they hope to pass a terrible tax bill that most Americans don't like, or believe it to be unnecessary in a full employment economy.  Moreover, corporate profits and retained earnings are near an all time high.  Corporations don't need tax cuts to stimulate investment and create jobs.  Senator Lyndsey Graham provided the rationale for the Republican tax proposal which is designed to reward its wealthy donors.  He said that the financial contributions will stop if they don't pass the tax bill.  That reminds me of an email that I received from one of the members of a club to which I belong.  Most of the Republicans in the club were conflicted about voting for Donald Trump who they did not respect.  The rationale provided in the email was succinct and to the point.  Members should vote for Trump in order to get their taxes cut.  That was more important than any damage that Trump might do to our society and to our political system.  Apparently, that is what the Republican Party stands for today.  Cutting taxes for the wealthy, at the expense of public goods, is its dominant creed. 

What Will We Remember About The Trump Administration?

This article by a Republican is the most damning critique of the Trump administration that I have read.  A fish rots from its head and the head of this administration has no peer in our recent history for rottenness.  It starts and ends with Trump and his band of loyalists, including members of his family.  The following quote from the article sums it up nicely.  Eventually the administration will be toppled by the accumulation of lies that are being uncovered.

Many of the people who should be supplying the moral values required by self-government have corrupted themselves. The Trump administration will be remembered for many things. The widespread, infectious corruption of institutions and individuals may be its most damning legacy.
Hopefully we will have learned enough from the corruption of our political system to make the essential corrections.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

GOP Tax Cuts Are The Prelude To "Starving The Beast"

The GOP tax cuts will add at least $1.5 trillion to the federal debt over 10 years.  However, gimmicks in the GOP tax plan may add $2 trillion to the federal debt balance.  Guess what comes next?  OK you guessed it.  Republicans will use the ballooning federal debt level to "starve the beast".  They will become advocates for fiscal austerity just as they have in the past when Democrats were in the White House.  It won't be long before Republicans will be looking for cuts in mandatory spending which is short for cuts in Medicare and Social Security.  In other words, the tax cuts will provide the justification for "starving the beast" which is the way that Republicans refer to government.

Populism has been on the rise in Europe as well as in the US.  Globalization has been economically and socially harmful to many citizens who have been affected by the ability of multinational corporations to source capital and labor from the least expensive location.  Corporate profits and stock prices are at all time highs, but wages and occupational security have declined.  The implication is that we need stronger and more effective governments to deal with the impacts of globalization.  Starving the beast is the last thing that governments should be doing if they want to maintain the benefits of democracy, personal freedom and national sovereignty in the face of globalization. The Republican Party is living in the dark ages that existed before FDR responded to the Great Depression by implementing the New Deal against opposition from Republicans who believed that the labor market would fix itself.

US Treasury Secretary Gets Rewarded For Taking The Job

Steven Mnuchin made millions as an investor.  Many wondered why he would take the low paying job as US Treasury Secretary.  The photo below may provide one of the answers to the question.  Mnuchin is pictured with his trophy wife showing off newly printed dollars with his name affixed as the US Treasury Secretary.  Mnuchin doesn't need a big salary he just needs some fame to impress his wife.  He will get another chance for fame if the GOP passes a terrible tax bill that Mnuchin has been promoting in his new job as Treasury Secretary.

The Hidden $500 Billion Cost In The GOP Tax Plan

The GOP tax plan is full of gimmicks to hide the real cost ($515 billion) of the tax cuts that is providing primarily to its donors.  The increase in federal debt over 10 years cannot exceed $1.5 trillion under Senate rules which enable the bill to pass with a simple majority.  That is, it won't need a single Democratic vote to be passed into law.  The first gimmick that they have used for decades is to assume that tax cuts will be paid for by the economic growth stimulated by the tax cuts.  This article describes the gimmicks used to disguise an additional $515 billion increase in federal debt.

The first gimmick is to provide tax cuts to the middle class which disappear by law after five years. It is a present to middle class voters which actually results in a tax increase after five years.  The second gimmick is to provide tax cuts for its donors which are  are supposed to disappear after five years. Of course, they never disappear because the GOP will never support tax increases for its donors.  Its no wonder that the GOP manages to pass tax bills for its donors by pretending that their tax bill is a present to the middle class.  The gimmicks are never discussed on Fox News and other propaganda outlets.  The "fake news" media like the Washington Post and the NYT provide analyses of tax bills but most voters don't don't subscribe to them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Republicans Use Tax Bill To Effectively Repeal Obamacare

The Republican tax bill eliminates the mandate in Obamacare which requires all Americans to apply for health insurance with government subsidies who cannot afford the premium.  The CBO determined that eliminating the mandate would increase health insurance premiums because fewer healthy individuals would purchase insurance and the risk pool would increase the risk to insurers.  That would cause 13 million Americans to lose healthcare coverage because they could not afford the higher premiums.  The loss of healthcare insurance, subsidized by government, would save the government $338 billion over ten years.  The savings will be use to help pay for the tax cuts that go primarily to wealthy Americans.  The Republicans would rather eliminate the inheritance tax on estates over $11 million than provide health insurance for 13 million Americans.  To make matters worse, they continue to sell their tax plan as a way to make life better for the middle class.  They have no conscience.

Republican Tax Plan Takes Us Back To 20th Century

Much of the debate about the GOP tax plan is about the maldistribution of the tax cuts and the choices made to pay for the tax cuts by the elimination of deductions that are harmful to middle income families.  Those criticisms are warranted.  This critique of the tax plan, however, takes aim at the effort to modernize the business tax.  Everyone agrees that the changes need to made in the business tax.  Instead of modernizing the business tax it takes us back to the good old days before globalization and the growth of the digital economy.  In their rush to get a tax plan passed prior to the 2018 elections they have cobbled together a plan that achieves few of its economic objectives.  Instead of making US corporations more competitive in the global economy, it will make them and the US economy less competitive.  Tax policies are complex and it is difficult to make changes without producing unintended consequences.  The rush to pass a bill for political reasons is full of unintended consequences which are well described in this article.  This is what happens when members of Congress are focused on the next election and the appeals of lobbyists.  It is a plan without a vision of future.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How Republican Tax Plan Restores Hereditary Plutocracy

Tax policy reveals the values of the political party that designs the policy.  Paul Krugman describes the ways in which Republican proposals runs counter to the values of our founding fathers.  They immigrated from a system in England in which wealth and social position were passed on from one generation to the next.  In France a revolution was directed at its system maintaining its hierarchical system of economic and social position.  The Republican tax plan makes it easier for wealthy families to pass on their assets to future generations and it makes it more difficult for those without great wealth to move up the economic and social ladder.

In order to pass a tax plan without any votes from Democrats, the Republican tax plan must find a way to raise taxes so that its plan does not add more than $1.5 trillion to budget deficit during a ten year period.  That is done my reducing or eliminating tax deductions that help low income families pay for college among other things.  For example, they will no longer be able to deduct the interest on student loans that help them to pay for college.  The Republican plan also eliminates the tax on estates exceeding $11 million for households with a husband and wife.  The Republicans sell this tax cut by claiming that it allows farmers and small businesses to pass their assets to future generations.  The number of small farmers and small businesses with assets above $11 million is minuscule.  On the other hand,  billionaires will be  able to pass on  their assets to their heirs, who will have no need to work for a living, when the estate tax is eliminated.

The other way to cut taxes and stay within the $1.5 trillion deficit increase over 10 years is to cut federal spending.  Of course, the favorite targets for Republican spending cuts are programs that benefit lower income Americans.  They love to play the role of fiscal conservatives when budget deficits increase by proposing cuts to popular entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Trump ran against cutting these programs during his campaign but he will do nothing to prevent current and future Republicans from cutting them in the future so that they can cut taxes today for their donors.  They have been playing that game for generations and it seems to work.  Tax policies are important for the super rich and they appreciate changes that reduce their tax burden.  The great majority of Americans do not caste their votes based upon an examination of tax and spending policies.  Hucksters like Paul Ryan and Donald Trump are good at justifying tax cuts for the rich.  They tell them lies that seem to have worked for decades.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The New Face Of The Republican Party

This editorial describes sexual episodes by the Republican nominee for the US Senate which should disqualify him according to a small number of  Republican senators.  However, most of the article is about the reluctance of most Republican leaders to take that step.  They won't disqualify him unless the charges are proven to be true.  The implication is that a court of law must first determine that the charges made by numerous young woman are true.  The reluctance of Republican leaders is understandable.  Roy Moore's face appears on the header of the editorial.  His face represents the changes that are underway in Donald Trump's  GOP.  For most of my life the face of the GOP was that of successful businessmen and bankers.  Roy Moore represents the populist base of the GOP and the sections of our nation that form Trump's base.  They are committed to undermining the GOP "establishment" along with the influence of Washington on local affairs.  Donald Trump is more comfortable with successful businessmen, bankers and billionaires than he is with people like Roy Moore and his policies reflect their preferences.  However, he understands that he was elected by folks like Roy Moore.  The leaders of the GOP establishment realizes that it cannot remain in power without the folks who nominated Roy Moore and who probably elect him to the Senate.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Mercer Family, Steve Bannon, And Financing The GOP Revolution

Robert Mercer is the billionaire investor who has financed Steve Bannon's Brietbart News which has led the battle against the Republican establishment.  Mercer was forced to step down from his position as CEO of an investment fund because of backlash from his politics.  He was a big supporter of Ted Cruz, but he switched over to Trump after he won the GOP nomination.  Ted Cruz is the only Senate Republican who is not on Bannon's attack list against the GOP establishment.  There has been some speculation about Mercer's support for Bannon and Brietbart News.  Apparently, Mercer has transferred his ownership of Brietbart News to his daughter who has also been active in supporting Bannon's war against the GOP establishment.  The Mercer family along, with the Koch family, have been the most prominent billionaires using their money to determine the direction of Republican political policies.

US Commerce Secretary Is Only Worth $700 Million

Forbes magazine publishes a list of the 400 richest Americans each year.  Wilbur Ross, may have earned his position in Trump's cabinet because he has been listed as a billionaire.  Apparently, Ross has been padding his wealth for many years according to Forbes which has determined that he is not a billionaire.  Its understandable why Ross may have lied about his wealth because he manages money for other wealthy Americans.  Many wealthy Americans may believe that it makes sense to hire a billionaire to manage their wealth.  Forbes claims that Ross has lied about his assets for many years and it has removed him from its billionaire role call.  He is much like his boss who is on Forbes top 400 list.  Donald Trump is a billionaire but he has argued with Forbes about his position on its top 400 list.  He has consistently claimed that he is wealthier than Forbes has determined.  Perhaps The Donald can improve his position by capitalizing on his position in the White House.  Unlike most presidents, Trump and his family have been working hard to capitalize on his position in the White House.

The Senate Wants to Alter House Tax Bill To Make It Worse

The Republican Congress failed to pass an unpopular healthcare bill.  They only learned one message from that failure.  They learned that they must show that they can pass bills even if they are terrible bills that the majority of Americans dislike.  Now they are having the same problem trying to pass an unpopular tax bill.  The Senate wants to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes which would raise taxes for upper middle class Americans in blue states who pay higher state and local taxes than citizens in red states.  It is opposed by senators in blue states but most of them are Democrats and the Senate can pass the bill without any Democratic votes under Senate rules as long as it does not add more than $1.5 trillion to the deficit after 10 years.

One would think that Republicans would try harder to pass bills that would be good for the nation.  Instead they have come to believe that they must pass terrible bills just to show that they are able to govern without an input from Democrats.  The following quote from a Senate Republican from a red state (Louisiana) expresses their ignorance perfectly.  This is the sad state of our political system in America.

“We’ve got to go pass this bill,” he added. “I’d rather drink weed killer than not pass this bill.”

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Social Visions That Explain Tax Policy In US

David Brooks describes the current Republican tax plan in terms of its social vision.  That is perhaps a much more philosophical way of explaining the current GOP tax plan.  It is a plan that rewards Republican donors and industries in red states.  It punishes donors and industries in blue states.  Brooks understands this but he took the opportunity to describe a tax plan that is more consistent with his social values.  That is an interesting exercise for an intellectual like Brooks but it has little to do with how tax policy gets done by our elected officials.

There Is A Simple Explanation For Mass Shootings And Deaths From Guns In US

President Trump, and many others, have explained mass shootings, and death from guns,  by blaming the mental health of the murderers or other social factors in the US.  There have been studies on this topic that contradict what our politicians and gun defenders claim.  The US has 4% of the worlds population but its citizens possess 42% of the worlds guns.  The correlation between gun possession in the US and the high incidence of mass shootings and gun related homicides provides the only explanation for this phenomenon.  The incidence of mental health problems in the US is not exceptional.  We look a lot like other nations in that respect.  The easy availability of guns in the US is the only factor that explains mass shootings and homicides by guns.  The probability of being robbed on the street in countries like England is equal to that of the US.  The only difference is that you are much more likely to be shot during a robbery in the US.  There are much fewer guns available to criminals in England. 

There have been mass shootings in other countries, such as Australia, but their response has been vry different.  They passed laws which designed to reduce access to guns by criminals.  That never happens in the US.  The gun lobby controls many of our politicians, and the public love affair with guns is much stronger in the US.  The citizens in other nations love to hunt with guns just as many of our citizens in the US.  The NRA and our politicians have successfully equated gun ownership with harmless hobbies such as hunting and target shooting.  They are not responsible for mass shootings and gun related homicides.  We make it too easy for dangerous people in the US to possess guns. 

A Tax Bill For The Lazy Rich

Donald Trump tells his base that his tax plan was designed to benefit them.  He understands, of course, that they understand few of the details in his tax plan.  However, he can't resist adding a little bit of spice to his fable.  He tells his true believers that his tax plan will not benefit rich people like himself.  Apparently, Trump is sacrificing himself in order to take better care of ordinary Americans. That, of course, is a winning strategy but it just another one of his big lies.  For example, eliminating the estate tax will not improve their lives, but it will be good for the heirs of households with estates worth more than $11 million.  There is no estate tax for household below that threshold.  Donald Trump's estate will be many times above $11 million.  Most of Trump's businesses are pass through businesses.  The profits of those businesses are taxed at 39% for individuals in Trump's tax bracket.  Under the new law the profits will be taxed at 25%.  There are some exceptions to that in his tax bill but it favors individuals who have a less active role in the business.  Trump, of course, cannot have an active role in each of his numerous business entities which will benefit from the new law.

Trump also wins big time from the elimination of the alternative minimum tax (AMT).  This was not discussed in this article but he has been forced to pay tens of millions in taxes because of the AMT.  Of course, he is not the only person who will benefit from the elimination of the AMT.  It was put in place to insure that high income households could not eliminate taxes by taking large deductions from their gross income.  Trump had to pay millions in the only tax return that has become public because of the AMT.

Donald Trump's Response To Mass Shooting In Texas Is Too Predictable

Its easy to predict how Donald Trump will respond to almost any question that he is asked.  The mass shooting in Texas provides a good example of his ignorance and his approach to almost every issue.  His political base believes that we would have fewer mass shootings if more of us were armed.  Is anyone surprised that Donald Trump fed them back their pet response to mass shootings?  Trump also put his ignorance on display by declaring that we have a new hero who used his gun to kill the murderer that he chased down.  He did the same thing after the Las Vegas mass murder.  In both cases the murderer took his own life.  There were no armed heroes in either case.  Trump understands his base very well.  That is the critical skill possessed by every effective demagogue.  However, it is a tragedy for our nation, and for many of our allies, that we have placed a demagogue in the White House. 

The New Gilded Age Is Even More Tragic Than The Last One

I have cut back on my blogs because most of the terrible things about Trump and our failing political system have already been said.  I wrote a few blogs about the Republican tax plan even though I understand that most of Trump's supporters are not interested enough in tax policy to bother their heads with the details.  They don't even care that he lies about almost everything.  That is what they expect from politicians.  I posted this article by Dana Milbank because it describes the tax writing process in Congress with a touch of humor and sadness.  It is going to be difficult to recover from the new normal in Congress and in much our country.  Many of our politicians, and their supporters, have lost their moral compass. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trump Quickly Turns NYC Terrorist Attack Into A Political Weapon

The Donald took advantage of a terrorist attack in London to criticize the Prime Minister for not providing a more powerful police defense against terrorism.  If he were to follow the logic that he used to attack public officials in England for a terrorist attack he would have to blame himself for a terrorist attack which occurred under his watch.  Instead, The Donald did what he always does.  He used the NYC terrorist attack to falsely blame others for the attack.  He claims that if his tough vetting of immigrants had been in force the attack would not have happened.  This assumes that the terrorist was not radicalized while living in the US.  The Department of Homeland Security claims that many acts of terror are committed by homegrown radicals. 

Many acts of terrorism, like the recent shootings in Las Vegas, are committed by individuals who were born and raised in the US.  That was an act of terror that had nothing to do with foreign influence.  The administration did not blame blame weak law enforcement or easy access to weapons by a disturbed individuals for the Las Vegas shooting.  He took a different position on the NYC attack because he could use it for political purposes.  He is the only politician strong enough to protect Americans from hostile immigrants who are the only source of terror.