Trump’s campaign: Big Macs, screaming fits and constant rivalries

Washington Post

Trump’s campaign: Big Macs, screaming fits and constant rivalries

Michael Kranish, The Washington Post     December 2, 2017

FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport November 6, 2016 in Moon Township, Pa.© Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport November 6, 2016 in Moon Township, Pa.

Elton John blares so loudly on Donald Trump’s campaign plane that staffers can’t hear themselves think. Press secretary Hope Hicks uses a steamer to press Trump’s pants — while he is still wearing them. Trump screams at his top aides, who are subjected to expletive-filled tirades in which they get their “face ripped off.”

And Trump’s appetite seems to know no bounds when it comes to McDonald’s, with a dinner order consisting of “two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted.”

The scenes are among the most surreal passages in a forthcoming book chronicling Trump’s path to the presidency co-written by Corey Lewandowski, who was fired as Trump’s campaign manager, and David Bossie, another top aide. The book, “Let Trump Be Trump,” paints a portrait of a campaign with an untested candidate and staff rocketing from crisis to crisis, in which Lewandowski and a cast of mostly neophyte political aides learn on the fly and ultimately accept Trump’s propensity to go angrily off message.

“Sooner or later, everybody who works for Donald Trump will see a side of him that makes you wonder why you took a job with him in the first place,” the authors wrote. “His wrath is never intended as any personal offense, but sometimes it can be hard not to take it that way. The mode that he switches into when things aren’t going his way can feel like an all-out assault; it’d break most hardened men and women into little pieces.”

The authors “both had moments where they wanted to parachute off Trump Force One,” but they said they got used to it.

Lewandowski provides a largely admiring portrait of his former boss, saving the skewer for score-settling anecdotes about Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman and rival whom Lewandowski blames for his ouster. The Post obtained an advance copy of the book, which is scheduled for release on Tuesday.

In a section of the book written by Lewandowski, Trump is described as flying on his helicopter when he learns that Manafort has said “Trump shouldn’t be on television anymore, that he shouldn’t be on the Sunday shows” and that Manafort should appear instead. Trump was angrier than Lewandowski had ever seen him, ordering the pilot to lower the altitude so he could make a cellphone call.

“Did you say I shouldn’t be on TV on Sunday? I’ll go on TV anytime I g–dam f—ing want and you won’t say another f—ing word about me!” Trump yelled at Manafort, according to Lewandowski. “Tone it down? I wanna turn it up! . . . You’re a political pro? Let me tell you something. I’m a pro at life. I’ve been around a time or two. I know guys like you, with your hair and skin . . .”

Lewandowski called it “one of the greatest takedowns in the history of the world.”

The aide’s satisfaction at the takedown didn’t last long, however, as he “immediately got a phone call” from Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, “telling me I wasn’t a team player and that I’d thrown Paul under the bus.” Lewandowski wrote that Manafort soon arranged for him to be fired.

But Manafort’s days were numbered as well, especially after Breitbart News executive Stephen K. Bannon became an adviser to the campaign and set his sights on ousting the campaign chairman.

In one of the most striking passages of the book, the co-authors describe a scene in which Bannon is read the first few paragraphs of a forthcoming story by a New York Times reporter laying out allegations that Manafort had received a $12.7 million payment from a Ukrainian political party. The encounter occurred at Manafort’s apartment in Trump Tower, where, the co-authors write, an unnamed woman in a white muumuu “lounged” on the couch.

“Does Trump know about this?” Bannon asked, according to the book.

“What’s to know, it’s all lies,” Manafort replied.

The woman on the couch “imploringly” asked, “Paul?” Manafort responded, according to the book, “It was a long time ago. I had expenses.”

The authors write that “Bannon knew what he had in his hand. It was an explosive, page one story.”

Notwithstanding his constant praise of Trump, Lewandowski offers a window into the president’s toughness on those who work nonstop on his behalf. Lewandowski wrote of a time when he was so ill that he fell asleep on a plane, only to be awakened by Trump, saying, “Corey, if you can’t take it, we’ll get somebody else.” He described a meeting in which Trump told another campaign official, Brad Parscale, that “You don’t have to listen to Corey anymore. He’s no longer your boss.”

[From ‘Access Hollywood’ to Russia, Trump seeks to paint the rosiest picture]

Lewandowski wrote that “the cut was deep, but it was only one of a thousand.”

Trump left it to his son Don Jr. to fire him, Lewandowski wrote.

In another episode, Lewandowski describes how staffer Sam Nunberg was purposely left behind at a McDonald’s because Nunberg’s special-order burger was taking too long. “Leave him,” Trump said. “Let’s go.” And they did.

Trump’s fast-food diet is a theme. “On Trump Force One there were four major food groups: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza and Diet Coke,” the authors write.

The plane’s cupboards were stacked with Vienna Fingers, potato chips, pretzels and many packages of Oreos because Trump, a renowned germaphobe, would not eat from a previously opened package.

The book notes that “the orchestrating and timing of Mr. Trump’s meals was as important as any other aspect of his march to the presidency,” and describes the elaborate efforts that Lewandowski and other top aides went through to carefully time their delivery of hot fast food to Trump’s plane as he was departing his rallies.

Lewandowski’s description of campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who is now White House communications director, underscored the untested nature of the campaign and its personnel. He describes Hicks, a competitive athlete and former model, as “smart and private, with a nearly photographic memory.”

But, he writes, when Trump asked Hicks to join him on a campaign trip, she was working for the Trump Organization as a public relations official. So, the authors wrote, when she was first asked to be press secretary, she responded, in reference to a Trump property, “Which one? The Doral marketing campaign?”

“No, my presidential campaign! I’m running for president,” Trump responded, according to the book.

One of Hicks’s jobs was to make sure that Trump’s suits were pressed when they flew on his plane.

“ ‘Get the machine!’ ” Trump would yell, according to the book. “And Hope would take out the steamer and start steaming Mr. Trump’s suit, while he was wearing it! She’d steam the jacket first and then sit in a chair in front of him and steam his pants.”

One day, when Hicks forgot the steamer, Trump became angry.

“G–dammit, Hope! How the hell could you forget the machine?”

The authors wrote, “It was a mistake she would never make again.”

It was Hicks who, on Oct. 7, took a call from a Washington Post reporter about a video from “Access Hollywood” in which Trump boasted about how he could “grab” women “by the p—y.” Trump looked at a transcript and said “that doesn’t sound like something I would say.” It was Bossie, who served as the deputy campaign manager, who played the video for Trump on his iPad. The campaign came up with the response that it was “locker room” talk.

The authors wrote that as panic ensued among some Republicans, the party’s national chairman, Reince Priebus, decided not to show up at a New York City meeting. Bannon called Priebus, asking, “Where the hell are you?”

“I got off the train in Newark,” Priebus responded, according to the book. “I’m going to turn around.” The book notes that Priebus has said he always intended to come to the meeting.

As Bannon tried to convince him that everything was all right, Priebus said that Republicans were abandoning the candidate. “It’s horrible . . . people are dropping like flies,” Priebus said, according to the book. Once he arrived at the meeting, Priebus said that Trump would either “lose the biggest electoral landslide in American history” or should drop out of the race.

“First of all,” Trump responded, according to the book, “I’m going to win. And second, if the Republican Party is going to run away from me, then I will take you all down with me. But I’m not going to lose.”

Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker contributed to this report.

The GOP’s biggest lie: Republican tax plan reveals the rot is deep

Salon

The GOP’s biggest lie: Republican tax plan reveals the rot is deep

Republicans are getting away with the most brazen political lie ever told

(Credit: Getty/Hulton Archive/Zach Gibson/Salon)

Ted Morgan      December 2, 2017

The “Big Lie” has been most closely associated with the Nazis’ incessant propaganda campaign about an international Jewish “war of annihilation” against Germany, a campaign that brought the totalitarian Nazi regime to power and paved the way for the Holocaust.  In assessing Adolph Hitler’s psyche, the U. S. Office of Strategic Services reported,

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

On Nov. 22, Donald Trump declared, “We’re going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas … a great big, beautiful Christmas present.”  This is one among many lies Trump has bleated about the tax cut — a con job designed to appeal to Americans who struggle to make ends meet, whether they be unemployed or underemployed, the elderly, working or middle class, or poor.  In reality, the Trump/Republican Party tax cut, whatever final form it takes, is a pack of lies and distortions designed to further enrich the wealthiest Americans and solidify the takeover of our government by corporate wealth.

What makes this a Big Lie is its repetition over a period of 35 years of “supply-side economics,” years marked by an unprecedented upward redistribution of income and wealth and the growth of staggering inequality.

We know the wealthy are the chief beneficiaries of this tax cut.  According to the Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent receive 34 percent of the corporate tax cut benefit, and the top 20 percent receive 70 percent of the benefit. Eliminating the estate tax only benefits those individuals with wealth exceeding $5 million ($10 million for married couples).  Eliminating the alternative minimum tax gets rid of the very tax created to prevent the wealthy from getting away with paying no taxes at all.  If it were removed in 2015, for example, Donald Trump would have been $31 million richer and taxed at 3.5 percent.  By contrast, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, those with incomes below $75,000 will be paying higher taxes by 2027.

The only possible legitimation for such a blatantly inequitable tax is the claim that cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy will produce investment and job growth; not surprisingly Trump claims the tax cut will produce 10.5 percent growth in GDP over 10 years.  By contrast, the Urban/Brookings Tax Policy Center predicts 0.3 percent growth over 10 years.  When the non-partisan Congressional Research Services tracked tax rates from 1945 to 2010, they found that cutting the top tax rates had no positive effect on economic growth or the growth of savings, investment or productivity. Corporate CEOs themselves have acknowledged that they would use new revenue to buy back shares, retire debt, and issue shareholder dividends – i.e., benefiting Wall Street and its clients, not Main Street where we live and work.

Only one of 38 economists polled by the University of Chicago believed economic growth would be “substantially higher” in 10 years because of the tax cut; all 38 believed the national debt would be substantially higher.  According to the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax cut will produce roughly $1.4 trillion in new debt over the next 10 years.

We’ve been here before. Reagan-era tax cuts tripled the national debt over the 1980s, and G.W. Bush-era tax cuts added $1.5 trillion to the national debt.  Each of these  administrations also dramatically increased a bloated military budget while reducing programs that aid vulnerable Americans.

Therein lies the covert “benefit” of these soaring budget deficits. With military spending increasing, and popular entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare typically impervious to budget cuts (though every indication is the Republicans will go after these in the coming months), and required interest payments on the national debt piling up, deficits have been used to justify cuts to a wide range of domestic programs, thereby depriving the nation of the ability to address such accelerating crises as disintegrating infrastructure, overburdened schools, costly and non-universal health care, and climate change.

So, when a Nov. 15 Quinnipiac poll shows two-thirds of the American public in opposition, why are these people pushing a tax cut that enriches the wealthy while debilitating the country as a whole?  When asked, Rep. Chris Collins of New York declared, “My donors are basically saying. ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’”  Such is the rot eroding our democracy.

Ted Morgan is emeritus professor of political science at Lehigh University and the author, most recently, of “What Really Happened to the 1960s: How Mass Media Culture Failed American Democracy.”

Senate Republicans are essentially defunding public schools to pay for private ones

ThinkProgress

Senate Republicans are essentially defunding public schools to pay for private ones

Another big win for the wealthy.

E.A. Crunden     December 2, 2017

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER

The new tax bill passed by Senate Republicans does away with crucial support for public schools while adding a provision beneficial to their private counterparts. That move would help wealthy parents pay for private schools, including religious schools, while hurting lower-income families. A similar provision is in the House version of the tax bill.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, GOP lawmakers passed the biggest tax overhaul in several decades through a 51 to 49 vote. One lone Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, voted against the legislation, citing deficit concerns. The bill, which includes a number of dramatic provisions and cuts, will have sweeping implications for many people across the United States.

Under current law, parents can open 529 plans to help pay for future college costs. Those accounts, which differ by state, are tax-advantaged and grow as long as the money is spent exclusively on higher education. A last-minute provision added to the Senate tax bill allows for 529 plans to be used for K-12 private schools. (Lawmakers initially included but later removed a controversial provision allowing parents to open 529 accounts for fetuses.)

In addition to benefitting wealthier families, the new 529 expansion is popular with proponents of “achool choice” — a movement that favors religious education. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a longtime supporter of school choice, filed the amendment expanding 529 plans. Debate over Cruz’s amendment helped stretch tha tax bill vote into the early-morning hours but the addition still won out in the end.

Ron Lieber, a financial columnist for the New York Times, tweeted that the Cruz amendment’s implications could have much broader repercussions than similar language in the House bill.

“Last night, Ted Cruz (w the help of a tiebreaking vote from VP Pence) got the 529s-for-private-schools provision into the Senate tax bill. As I reported last month, this could be worth $30,000 in net new tax savings per child to wealthy families,” Lieber wrote. “The Cruz amendment goes even further than the House 529s-for-private-schools thing did. If the House comes around, you’ll be able to use 529s for tutoring.”

The state and local tax deduction (or, SALT) allows taxpayers to deduct those taxes when determining their federal income taxes. SALT’s biggest beneficiaries are actually wealthy suburban voters in populous states like New York and California, many of whom tend to vote Republican. But the Senate bill initially called for a complete repeal of SALT in order to lower tax rates elsewhere.

Outcry from some Republicans led to a slight change — itemizers may still receive a deduction for property taxes up to $10,000. But the rest of the SALT repeal stands, which is bad news for public schools.

Under SALT, income that paid for public schools went untaxed at the federal level. Current law allows states that raise taxes to better fund public schools to receive a deduction through SALT. The Senate bill ends that ability. As states struggle to lessen the impact of the tax bill on citizens, there will be an outsized amount of pressure on the taxes that typically help public schools.

For families able to afford private school, the combination of SALT’s demise and the tax bill’s new private school provision is likely to make the decision to pay for private education far more appealing. That’s a big win for school choice proponents like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who expressed support for the original 529 plan expansion in the House tax bill.

Public schools in areas with strong upper middle class populations currently fare well because they can afford teachers with higher salaries and offer an array of extracurricular options. Families in those areas are also invested in public schools, to say nothing of incentivized by SALT. But without the deduction, that incentive goes away. Wealthier families will be more inclined to opt for private school instead — especially with the expansion of 529 plans.

Experts have speculated that the elimination of SALT could ultimately cost public schools upwards of $17 billion. That loss will almost inevitably degrade the quality of public schools, something that will hurt families with no other option. Around 50.7 million U.S. students attend public schools — approximately 90 percent of students in the United States.

Senate Passes Sweeping Tax Bill That Overwhelmingly Benefits the Wealthiest Americans

Mother Jones

Senate Passes Sweeping Tax Bill That Overwhelmingly Benefits the Wealthiest Americans

Corporations receive a permanent tax cut, while everyone else gets a smaller temporary cut.

Noah Lanard      December 2, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tells reporters “we have the votes,” as he walks to the Senate chamber on Friday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Just before 2 AM Saturday morning, Senate Republicans passed the most sweeping tax legislation in 30 years. The final version of the three-week-old bill was not released until four hours before the vote. There have been no hearings on the bill and none of the bipartisanship seen during the last major tax overhaul in 1986.

The bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is projected to add more than $1 trillion in deficit spending over 10 years, but passed a Republican caucus that spent the Obama years obsessed over the national debt. There was just one dissenter in the party, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. The final vote was 51 in favor, 49 against, with all the Democrats and Corker voting no.

There were a smattering of last-minute changes tucked into the nearly 500-page bill, but the core of it is quite simple: a permanent tax cut for corporations combined with much smaller, and temporary, benefits for everyone else. Over the next decade, the $1.4 trillion tax cut would disproportionately reward the wealthiest Americans while piling on the national debt—which in turn will likely be used by Republicans as a justification for cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The House, which already passed its own tax bill last month, and the Senate are expected to work out the differences between their bills in conference meetings. Then each chamber would vote again, and send the final product to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. Trump hopes to sign what he has called his “big, beautiful Christmas present” to the American people by the end of the year.  

Before the individual cuts expire in 2026—ending the bill’s most charitable years—the top 1 percent would receive slightly more of the tax cut than the bottom 60 percent of Americans combined. Without the individual tax cut, the top 1 percent would get start getting 61 percent of the benefits. And at that point, the vast majority of middle-class taxpayers would receive essentially nothing, or end up paying higher taxes.

Republicans say they’ll eventually extend those individual cuts. But there is good reason to doubt that. The United States will be facing unprecedented debt levels when it comes time to renew the cuts. The annual deficit would be $1.4 trillionin 2025, up from about $700 billion today. The Senate bill asks Americans to trust that a future Congress, comprised of different members, will continue to ignore deficits.

While the Republicans have waffled in their concern for the national debt, the bill shows that they have steadfastly committed to trickle-down economics. Focusing on the corporate tax cuts, the White House Council of Economic Advisers has said the average family would see their income jump by up to $7,000 per year as businesses pass on their windfall. Tax experts have called this forecasting “absolutely crazy,” “absurd,” and “deeply flawed.” On Thursday, Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation found that the bill would add $1 trillion in deficit-spending over 10 years even after taking into account economic growth. But Republican leaders continue to maintain that the bill would pay for itself—despite there being almost no economists who agree with that assessment.

This all begs the question of why Republicans are pushing a trillion dollar corporate tax cut at this particular moment. Corporate profits are near record highs, the rich are richer than they’ve been since the Great Depression, and the incomes of average Americans are in a four-decade slump. Tax reform could have eased that hardship by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit or making working-class families eligible for Republicans’ expanded Child Tax Credit.

Adding to congressional Republicans’ dubious claims about the fantastical benefits of the bill is the president himself. Trump has regularly claimed that he will not personally benefit from the tax plan. That is almost certainly false. The president, and his children, likely stand to gain tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars. But, conveniently for Trump, it is impossible to know for sure without seeing his tax returns.

So why are Republicans are in such a rush to pass a bill that just 25 percent of Americans approve of? For one, there seems to be fear that the bill will only get more unpopular if subjected to further scrutiny. And then there are the donors. “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” Rep. Chris Collins said earlier this month. Many have already closed their checkbooks, and Republicans are keen to see them reopened.

Along with restructuring the tax code, the final bill is also likely to advance a broader culture war. Both bills at least partially block the parents of undocumented children from claiming the Child Tax Credit for their kids. And the House bill would let churches and nonprofits endorse political candidates for the first time since 1954. Mega-donors like the Koch Brothers would get a taxpayer subsidy for campaign spending if the provision makes it into the final bill. Campaign finance groups warn that it is another Citizens United in the making.

None of these provisions fit neatly with Republicans’ stated goal of making the tax code postcard-simple. Nor have the bills’ inclusion of carveouts for everything from citrus trees in Florida to tuna canneries in Pago Pago, American Samoa. (On Friday afternoon, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) tweeted out a list of about 30 forthcoming amendments that had been passed from Republicans to a lobbyist to Democrats.)

Speaking on the Senate floor earlier in the night, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday was one of the “darkest, black-letter days in the long history of this Senate.” He held up an amendment, which went on to be defeated just before the bill passed, that was added “under the cover of darkness” by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that exempts a college connected to Education Secretary and billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos from a new tax on university endowments. Schumer said the last-minute move was the “metaphor for this bill and how high the stench is rising in this chamber.”

Schumer moved to adjourn the Senate until Monday so that his colleagues had time to review the “monstrosity.” He argued no one could possibly know what they were being asked to vote on. McConnell, well aware that he had the votes to knock down the motion and pass the bill, listened and smirked.

Noah Lanard is an editorial fellow at Mother Jones. Reach him at nlanard@motherjones.com.

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Here’s the back story on Roy Moore, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

MoveOn.org shared NowThis Politics‘s video.

Here’s the back story on Roy Moore. Spoiler: it gets worse. The story of accused child-molester Roy Moore potentially becoming a U.S. senator is far more f*cked up thank you think

Moore's story is even more f*cked up than you think

The story of accused child-molester Roy Moore potentially becoming a U.S. senator is far more f*cked up thank you think

Posted by NowThis Politics on Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Please Don’t Look At Me Like That!

John Hanno     December 1, 2017                               

   Please Don’t Look At Me Like That!

While out in public these days, I feel uncomfortable when people look askance my way. What are they really thinking? Yes, I’m a white man similar in age to Donald J. Trump but please don’t put me in the same class. All old white men are not as humanly toxic and morally and mentally crippled as our commander in chief *.

I (We) would not, under any circumstances, engage in or entertain treasonous conspiracies with foreign evildoers attempting to undermine America’s democratic principles, just to benefit our own families, friends or contributors financially, or to support some political ambition.

Although our memories falter at times, we don’t all speak with such caviler disregard for the truth like this entire Trump administration. We keep our promises; its call integrity.

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We believe that our free and fair press and media is not fake news and is absolutely necessary for a viable democracy.

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We would not jeopardize America’s environment, its national public treasures or our children’s and grandchildren’s future, in order to reward political donors from the fossil fuel and mining industries.

We would never undermine our State Department employees, diplomats and even the Secretary of State. Trump’s budget plan for fiscal year 2018 will include a historically large $54 billion increase for defense spending and a corresponding cut from the State Department and foreign aid budgets. But Trump’s own Secretary of Defense, James Mattis has said: “if the State Departments funding gets cut, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Any credible Commander in Chief must realize, if critical American leadership is to maintain world peace, we need two peace makers at the State Department for every one employee in the Department of Defense.

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And just because we have to get up a few times during the night to pee, most old men don’t stay up nights devising tweets aimed at spreading crazy fringe conspiracies, supporting racist or white supremacist groups or ideas, or denouncing anyone who would disagree with us, like Trump does when people criticize his hair-brained ideas.

We don’t conspire to divide America into them and us and we don’t denigrate  immigrants, people of color, other religions or the LGBT community.

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We don’t view all women as objects to be judged or demeaned or sexually abused. And we do not champion political candidates who prey on or sexually abuse underage children, no matter how it may benefit our own goals. Is Judge Roy Moore’s reliable Senate vote really worth the hit to the GOP’s already damaged reputation?

We wouldn’t propose a bull-crap tax reform scam like this Senate Tax Bill that actually transfers a trillion dollars in wealth from the poorest of Americans and the middle-class to the richest special interests, most of whom have already prospered greatly in the last 4 decades.

The Congressional Budget Office attempted a preliminary scoring on this bill and claim it will take 13 million Americans health insurance away and add almost $1.5 Trillion to the national debt.

Trump, the Republi-cons in congress and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claim the bill will pay for itself, and have attempted to persuade skeptical Republican Senators that dynamic and not the CBO’s static scoring will prove their magic tax bill is the  prescription for a blooming economy. They claim it will trickle down to every American, but their trickle down tax bill is really more like Trump’s Russian pee tape.

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They claim Multi-national Corporations will jump at the chance to bring back the mountains of cash they have squirreled away offshore over the last 2 decades and will miraculously invest this bounty in new plants and equipment and give their employees thousands in increased wages, instead of their usual MO of buying back their company’s stock in order to plump-up top executives stock portfolios, and then dole out what’s left to stock-holders. Corporations are already releasing statements claiming any such tax benefits will go back to their investors.

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They claim the bill will somehow create millions of new jobs, even though economic experts claim America is at full employment. Anyone looking for a job has dozens to choose from. The only problem is the crappy wages most employers consistently refuse to increase. We don’t need bogus stimulants for the economy, we need employers willing to share their new found wealth with their loyal employees. But good luck with that.

Secretary Mnuchin kept promising deficit hawk Republican Senators that he had 100’s of treasury department employees working around the clock analyzing the bill and would show them a favorable score before they had to cast their vote. As it turned out, not one single employee was working on any such analysis. Mnuchin was blowing smoke up their butts and can’t deliver the promised numbers to support this obvious scam. The Inspector General of the Treasury is now investigating whether Mnuchin was a bold face liar or just incompetent.

The Republicans were promising another favorable score from the Joint Committee on Taxation, but they just revealed the bill would cause a one trillion dollar loss to the treasury with very little benefit to the economy. The bill would explode the debt by $1 trillion, increase the GDP by only .8%, increase job growth by a meager .6% and only cut taxes for the middle class by 1%. Is it any wonder this bogus tax scam is the most unpopular in history with only 28% approval. A massively unpopular tax cut bill; simply unbelievable!

Senator’s Corker, McCain, Flake, Johnson and others must feel like fools for believing these flim-flam sharks. They’re now demanding the deficit be reduced from 1 trillion to 500 million. On his MSNBC program last night, Lawrence O’Donnell replayed a video of Sen. John McCain explaining the reason he voted against the Bush tax cuts, was because it would blow up the debt for no credible benefit. Which Senator John McCain will vote on this bill, the sensible deficit hawk or the one willing to take health care away from 13 million Americans, some of which are fighting cancer just like McCain?

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These Republi-cons are not credible leaders capable of legitimate legislation. Trump has failed like no President in history in hiring the best and the brightest. He has fired or lost, in only one year, more of his best and brightest than the last 5 or 6 presidents combined.

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Unlike Trump, who pisses money away like it going out of style tomorrow, on gold plated everything, I’m an old school, true fiscal conservative. I (we) would not add trillions of dollars to the national debt just to give millionaires, billionaires and very prosperous multi-national corporations, unnecessary tax cuts.

I would not create a fiscal crisis by starving the federal treasury with these tax cuts, which will not only jeopardize and cripple many state government budgets, but will allow the Republi-cons in congress to do a 180 degree flip and cry about the escalating debt they just caused. The ink from Trump’s cut, cut, cut pen will be barely dry, when these slavish miscreants will push legislation aimed at cutting the Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs for America’s poor and middle-class. And the Paygo provisions in the bill would automatically cut from these programs as the national debt increases.

I (we) would also not engage in money laundering schemes with foreign governments, foreign despots or criminal syndicates, who steal from their fellow citizens, no matter how much of a financial windfall we would reap.

The 30 percent of voters who still stand by this Trump cabal of incompetent, unpatriotic evildoers, will sooner or later have to admit they threw in with the wrong saviors. The healers were right in front of them all along. They constituted the diverse democratic party, who pulled us out of a deep recession and repaired the economy after the Republi-cons crashed it in 2008 and also the principled moderates in the GOP, before they were expelled from the party by these ult-right tricksters.

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No matter how dire America’s future looks, there are countless folks in our governments who are principled, honest, competent, fiscally proficient and capable of bipartisan legislation.

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America has relied on a two party political system to steer it through centuries of democratic progress and middle-class prosperity. Past Presidents and Conservatives like Eisenhower, Nixon, the Bushes and even Regan would not be welcomed or elected by these Republi-cons.

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Who will pick up the pieces of the Grand Old Party; will there be enough healers left to reconstitute a valid political opposition?

George W. Bush, Trump, myself and Bill Clinton were all born within a few months of each other; born in the first year of the baby boom. We were blessed with a fantastic new beginning after the nation survived a depression and world war. America was primed for an unprecedented period of prosperity, driven by industries getting back to their non-military business and a burgeoning middle-class of returning veterans, returning to school, ready to start families and building homes.

Employers were desperate for these loyal veterans and willing to pay good wages and ample benefits, including fully paid health insurance with small co-pays and deductibles. And the organized labor movement was growing by leaps and bounds. But what drove that bountiful economy was not a bogus tax cut sham for the already wealthy, but a concerted effort by state and federal governments passing legitimate legislation aimed at those who needed help the most. The G.I. bill, which supported education and housing, corporations willing to share their wealth, a healthy organized labor force, and expanding families drove that remarkable prosperity, something these Republi-cons just don’t get.

Republicans’ Tax Lies Show the Rot Spreads Wide and Runs Deep 

New York Times

Republicans’ Tax Lies Show the Rot Spreads Wide and Runs Deep

Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist       November 30, 2017

John McCain’s past lectures on the need for “regular order” in the Senate aren’t stopping him from backing a tax bill that’s being rushed to a vote. CreditZach Gibson for The New York Times

On Thursday morning, The New York Times revealed that Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has been lying for months about Republican tax plans. Mnuchin has repeatedly claimed the existence of a Treasury report that — unlike every independent, nonpartisan assessment — found that these plans would pay for themselves, increasing growth and hence revenues so much that the deficit wouldn’t rise. But there is no such report, and never has been; Treasury staffers weren’t even asked to study the issue.

Also on Thursday, John McCain — who has delivered sanctimonious lectures on the importance of “regular order” in the Senate — declared his support for the G.O.P. tax bill. Remember, Senate leaders rushed this bill to the floor without holding any hearings or soliciting expert testimony (and tax policy is an area where you really, really need to hear from experts, lawyers and accountants even more than economists). In fact, at the time McCain declared his support, some key provisions were still secret, so they could be presented for a vote with no time for debate.

McCain declared that he had made his decision after “careful consideration.” Careful consideration of what? He didn’t even wait for an analysis of the bill’s economic impact by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s own scorekeeper — the only official assessment, since the Trump administration was, as I said, lying when it claimed to have its own analysis.

Later that day the joint committee delivered its predictable verdict: Like all other reasonable studies, its review found that the Senate bill would do little for U.S. economic growth, while directly hurting tens of millions of middle-class Americans, blowing up the deficit, lavishing benefits on the wealthy and opening up new frontiers for tax avoidance. But thanks to the moral collapse of McCain and other supposedly principled Republicans, at the time this column was filed the bill nonetheless seemed on track to clear the Senate.

But aren’t politicians always cynical? Not to this degree.

For one thing, there’s no precedent for this frantic rush to pass major legislation before anyone can figure out what’s in it or what it does. By way of comparison, the Affordable Care Act went through months of hearings before it was brought to the Senate floor; the full Senate then debated the bill for 25 straight days.

And there’s a world of difference between normal political spin — yes, all politicians try to emphasize the good aspects of their policies — and the outright lies that have marked every aspect of the selling of this thing.

Mnuchin said his department had a study showing great effects on growth; that was a lie. Donald Trump says the bill is “not good for me”; that’s a lie. Senator John Cornyn said, “This is not a bill that is designed primarily to benefit the wealthy and the large businesses”; that was a lie. Senator Bob Corker said he wouldn’t support a plan “adding one penny to the deficit”; that was a lie.

In other words, this whole process involves a level of bad faith we haven’t seen in U.S. politics since the days when defenders of slavery physically assaulted their political foes on the Senate floor.

There are two further things worth pointing out about this moral rot.

First, it is not, at a fundamental level, a story about Donald Trump, bad as he is: The rot pervades the whole Republican Party. Some details of the legislation do look custom-designed to benefit the Trump family, but both the broad outlines and the fraudulence of the sales effort would have been pretty much the same under any Republican president.

Second, the rot is wide as well as deep.

I’m not just talking about Republican politicians, although the tax debate should dispel any remaining illusions about their motives: Just about every G.O.P. member of Congress, including the sainted John McCain, is willing to put partisan loyalty above principle, voting for what they have to know is terrible and irresponsible legislation. The point, however, is that the epidemic of bad faith extends well beyond elected or appointed officials.

It was remarkable, for example, to see a group of Republican-leaning economists with serious professional credentials put out an open letter clearly intended to lend aid and comfort to Mnuchinesque promises of miraculous growth. True, they didn’t explicitly claim that tax cuts would pay for themselves. But they didn’t clearly state that they wouldn’t, either, leaving Mnuchin free to claim — as they have to have known he would — that the letter vindicated his position.

And weasel-wording aside, it turns out that the letter misrepresented the research on which it was supposedly based. In other words, the rot of bad faith that has spread through the G.O.P. has also infected many intellectuals affiliated with the party. Not all: Some anti-Trump conservatives have stood by their principles. But so far they have had little influence.

So what will it take to clean out the rot? The answer, basically, is overwhelming electoral defeat. Until or unless that happens, there’s no telling how low the G.O.P. will sink.

Apparently Republicans want to kick the middle class in the face

Washington Post – Opinion

Democracy Dies in Darkness

Apparently Republicans want to kick the middle class in the face

By Catherine Rampell     November 30, 2017 

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It’s not enough to give money to rich people. Apparently, Republicans want to kick the poor and middle class in the face, too.

I used to think the Republican Party’s obsession with top-heavy tax cuts was about pleasing wealthy donors and maybe also fulfilling some misguided Randian fantasy. If the poor and middle class happened to be collateral damage, so be it.

But it’s starting to look like shafting the little guy has become a feature, not a bug, of the GOP’s budget-busting tax plan.

In years past, when Republicans wished to pass huge tax cuts for the wealthy, they at least offered a few goodies to so-called regular Americans. Take the George W. Bush tax cuts: They were also extremely weighted toward the rich, but some of the provisions helped the middle class and poor. The 2001 legislation made the Child Tax Credit partially refundable, for instance, which for the first time allowed many poor families to receive it.

More important, the Bush tax cuts didn’t actually raise taxes on any households, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center.

The House speaker fails to account for what happens after 2018 in his estimate for Cindy, an example voter. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

This time around, Republicans have taken a different approach. They’re offsetting their tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy by hiking them further down the income distribution.

Yes, it’s true that lower- and middle-income households would get a tax cut initially. But according to Congress’s own official nonpartisan scorekeepers, by 2027 the Senate tax bill would actually raise taxes on households making less than $75,000. That’s the case even if you strip out the controversial effects of repealing the individual mandate.

No wonder this bill is less popular than any major change in federal tax policy since at least 1981.

But wait, it gets worse. Higher taxes aren’t the only way in which Republicans plan to punish the poor and middle class. They also plan to gut the government services these populations depend on.

This tax bill is merely a prelude to, or perhaps an excuse for, shredding the social safety net.

Despite all those fanciful promises about how tax cuts will pay for themselves, Republican politicians know their legislation will blow a major hole in the deficit. According to lawmakers’ own official scorekeepers, the Senate bill would cost $1 trillion over the coming decade, even after accounting for additional economic growth.

And in recent days and weeks, prominent Republicans have pledged to patch over this budget hole by cutting programs that millions of Americans need to get by.

In this clip from The Washington Post’s weekly Opinions roundup, “It’s Only Thursday,” opinion writers Jonathan Capehart, Jo-Ann Armao and Ruth Marcus discuss the minimal benefits of the GOP tax plan for the middle class. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

At an event on Wednesday, for example, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) linked tax cuts to coming entitlement cuts.

“Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit,” he said. “But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.”

At another event this week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said that once the tax bill was done, “welfare reform” — code for rolling back means-tested benefits — was on the agenda.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) of course has been trying to block-grant Medicaid and other safety-net programs for years. At a recent town hall, when asked why the tax bill wasn’t paid for through spending cuts, he assured the audience that spending cuts would be coming quite soon.

Even President Trump, supposed defender of the downtrodden, remarkedat a recent Cabinet meeting: “We’re looking very strongly at welfare reform, and that’ll all take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes.” He added that such a policy was “desperately needed in our country.”

You might question these pledges because cutting entitlements and other safety-net programs is easier said than done. Republicans learned this when they tried and failed to roll back Medicaid earlier this year.

But it’s worth noting that if Trump signs tax cuts into law in December, some spending cuts would be triggered automatically in January — without lawmakers having to lift a single finger or herd a single cat. Medicare alone would be slashed by $25 billion between January and September.

Such cuts would be triggered by a law known as statutory PAYGO, which was designed to promote fiscal responsibility. Overriding the law requires 60 Senate votes. Even if Democrats get on board with cleaning up the GOP’s budget mess, recent comments suggest not all Senate or House Republicans may choose to join them.

Income inequality is near record highs, and yet Republicans’ regressive tax and spending plans forge forward. It’s time for voters to ask their elected officials: How much upward distribution of wealth will ever be enough?

Read more here:

Robert E. Rubin: No serious lawmaker should support this tax bill

The Post’s View: Republicans may add a ‘trigger’ to their tax bill. It won’t work.

Robert J. Samuelson: Kill the tax bill

Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles: A moment of truth for our country’s financial future

Roy Moore’s Absurdity Knows No Bounds

Esquire

Roy Moore’s Absurdity Knows No Bounds

We could use Mark Twain right now.

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By Charles P. Pierce     November 30, 2017

“I desired that the Senate of Rome might appear before me in one large chamber, and a modern representative, in counterview, in another. The first seemed to be an assembly of heroes and demi-gods; the other, a knot of pedlars, pick-pockets, highwaymen, and bullies.”

—Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

November 30 happens to be the birthday shared, 150-odd years apart, by Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain. If some wealthy and interested soul wants to start a campaign to have November 30 declared an International Day of Righteous Scorn in their honor, I’m willing to chip in a pittance.

(I feel obligated to note that it is also the birthday of Winston Churchill, a prominent politician of the nation most recently pissed off by the president*, who’s suddenly got people wondering if he doesn’t more closely resemble Winston’s father, Randolph, particularly in the latter stages of that worthy’s life. But anyway.)

To celebrate the two masters, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the news on the birthday they share. Oh, look, there’s Marco Rubio. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to uncrate the famous animated recreation of Rubio’s entire public career but, boy howdy, was he not supposed to say this out loud. From Financial Advisor Magazine:

“I analyze this very differently than most,” Rubio told the crowd. “Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit. But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future,” the senator said.

Jesus, Marco, get with the program. You’re supposed to sell this Abomination of Desolation as a boon to “the middle class.” Then, when it blows up the deficit, you’re supposed to come sadly before the nation, blame the Democrats for not “compromising,” and mournfully tell millions of the elderly and disabled that it’s time for those lazy moochers to kick in. But Rubio wasn’t finished giving away games.

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Somebody asked him about what might happen if, as appears probable, ol’ Judge Roy Moore gets his’sef elected down in Alabam’. He served up some very tasty waffles in reply, as The Washington Examiner reports:

“This information is before the voters of Alabama,” Rubio told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. “And if they elect him and then you as a Senate have ethics hearings to remove him from office or something like that, that gets more complicated. That’s a little bit more difficult because voters will have this information before them when they vote for him if, in fact, he is elected.”

No, no, no. You wait until he’s seated before you explain to the nation how you can’t disrespect the votes of the goobers who sent an alleged pedophile to the Senate. You’re not supposed to be this direct in informing the nation that the Republican majority would seat Vlad The Impaler if he were good on tax cuts and shredding the social safety net. Yeah, it’s time to sum up Marco Rubio’s career again in that old, familiar way.

Which reminds me, ol’ Judge Roy seems to be having a high old time. His goons are slugging cameramen—from Fox, no less—and he’s got the rubes higher than kites on that old-time culture war religion. From The Hill:

“When I say they, who are ‘they?'” he asked. “They’re liberals. They don’t hold conservative values. They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender who want to change our culture. They are socialists who want to change our way of life and put man above God and the government is our God. They’re the Washington establishment…who don’t want to lose their power.”

Yeee-fcking-haw! That’s the real stuff right there. And it’s not like ol’ Judge Roy hasn’t been dealing it out for years. As ThinkProgress reports, via the invaluable AL.com, ol’ Jedge Roy once taught a course about how important it is to keep the wimmen-folk out of politics.

The study includes a lecture from William O. Einwechter, a teacher elder at Immanuel Free Reformed Church. The lesson, titled “What the Bible Says About Female Magistrates,” contends the Bible forbids women from holding elected office. “She’s not a warrior. She’s not a judge. She’s a woman. Created by God. Glorious in her place and in her conduct and in her role,” Einwechter said. “Nothing is said in scripture that supports the notion that she is qualified or called to be a civil magistrate.”

That’s going to come as something of a bummer to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who is a wimmen-folk her own self.

(By the way, one of Ivey’s real triumphs in office was signing a bill restoring voting rights to prisoners who had served their time. Thousands of the people who have benefitted from this true reform have registered to vote in the senatorial election, largely through the efforts of people who have reached out to them. This, naturally, has set the cast of Three Dolts on a Divan into what my mother used to call “high-sterics.” This of course, is because they are useless tools. Good on you, Kay Ivey.)

And, finally, getting back to Washington, there’s promising new Batman villain Steve Mnuchin, who has assured us that he has an analysis showing that the Abomination of Desolation will bring upon us a golden age of jobs. As The New York Times reports, however, there’s one problem with this analysis. It may not exist. Or, as the Times delicately puts it, the analysis “proves elusive.” As does Sasquatch.

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Mr. Mnuchin has promised that Treasury will release its analysis in full. Yet, just one day before the full Senate prepares to vote on a sweeping tax rewrite, the administration has yet to produce the type of economic analysis that it is citing as a reason to pass the tax cut. Those inside Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, which Mr. Mnuchin has credited with running the models, say they have been largely shut out of the process and are not working on the type of detailed analysis that he has mentioned. An economist at the Office of Tax Analysis, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize his job, said Treasury had not released a “dynamic” analysis showing that the tax plan would be paid for with economic growth because one did not exist.

Thus, then, do we celebrate the birthdays of the Dean and the Old Fella. May their spirits walk among us, and may they do so soon, because we’ve all climbed aboard Huck’s raft only to find ourselves beached in the land of the Yahoos.

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