Nel's New Day

June 15, 2019

Week 125, Part III – Democrats Move Ahead amid Corruption

While the U.S. House passes bills that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignores, it also pursues the facts that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tries to hide. One success—if DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr doesn’t pull out again—is obtaining evidence related to DDT’s obstruction of justice from Robert Mueller’s investigation in exchange for not suing Barr for contempt. Or Barr could be stalling. The House did take a vote permitting the Judiciary Committee to take witnesses to court who refuse to comply with subpoenas.

DDT tries to use executive privilege for refusing all information to the House, but Hope Hicks, former White House Communications Director and one of five subpoenaed DDT aides, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee. A transcript of the closed hearing will be released to the public. Hicks left the White House two days after she told Robert Mueller’s investigation that she testified that she told “white lies” for DDT.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying subpoenas related to their addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The House Intelligence Committee has now subpoenaed Michael Flynn and Rick Gates for documents and testimony about the Mueller report as part of connection with Russia and other foreign powers, including financial dealings and possibility of compromise.

Fox contributor Sidney Powell, conspiracy theorist regarding Mueller’s investigation, is Flynn’s new lawyer. Among her right-wing conspiracies on social media are Flynn as the victim of the “Obama Deep State” and the surveillance of the DDT campaign by the FBI “to protect Hillary Clinton.” She also retweeted a false post about a Mueller probe witness having a stroke because of prosecutors’ treatment. Her goals are the dismissal of Flynn’s case and a presidential pardon for him.

House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) has floated the idea of a subpoena for FBI Director Christopher Wray regarding any active counterintelligence investigations connected to DDT and Russia. Schiff wants to know if the FBI’s investigation, opened in June 2016, has concluded or continues. Congressional leaders, required to be briefed about sensitive intelligence issues, have had no information about Russia and the DDT campaign since DDT fired former FBI Director James Comey in 2017. GOP-invited witness Andrew McCarthy, a former US attorney and Fox contributor, described the danger of DDT’s campaign officials meeting in the Trump Tower in June 2016 when a Russian lawyer offered dirt on Hillary Clinton.

DDT may go back to court after a judge ordered the release of more memos from former FBI director James Comey about his meetings with DDT. The ruling requires that names of countries and world leaders be unredacted in conversations about DDT’s concerns about former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his scheduling of calls from world leaders. CNN’s lawsuit is now two years old.

While DDT tries to suppress political and financial material by telling everyone to ignore House subpoenas, he also wants to erase factual testimony from federal agencies. Last week he attempted to block a State Department employee from testifying about national security risks caused by the climate crisis. The employee testified, but his statements were excluded from the House record because the government research doesn’t fit DDT’s personal views.

Sen. David Purdue (R-GA) may call for his chamber to give up part of their August recess. Staying in Washington, however, has no value if McConnell won’t bring bills to the floor.

DDT will declare nuclear waste safer because of its new classification. Rick Perry’s Department of Energy is reclassifying high-level radioactive material to a lower standard, probably to bury the material in Washington, South Carolina, and Idaho shallow pits. Cleanup will be faster as the process moves dangerous waste to a new location. The federal agency plans “to cut out state input.”

If DDT has his way, the Office of Personnel Management that oversees government recruiting, hiring, pay, health insurance and other benefits, and performance management will close. The agency also oversees benefits for retirees and protects employee rights in federal agencies. DDT needs a senate vote for his restructuring. Democrats are opposed, and Republicans are lukewarm doing away with the agency. Created in 1978, the OPM, if disbanded, would be the first elimination of a major agency since the World War II era.

Chicken farmers have joined truckers and other former DDT supporters to be frustrated by DDT’s financial destruction. Farmers who thought that President Obama wasn’t policing meat companies who cheated and defrauded them voted for DDT. Much to their dismay, DDT sided with big meat companies—one magnate giving his campaign $2 million—over small farmers by erasing regulations protecting the little guys and giving four companies the ability to fix prices and crush competition. Georgia’s Sonny Perdue, Agriculture Secretary, dissolved the office for policing meat companies, and preexisting rules are no longer enforced. Top recipients from the annual $4+ million for lobbying are Georgia’s Jack Kingston who led the agriculture appropriations committee until this year and Arkansas member Steve Womack. Fines for breaking rules are under ten percent from five years ago.

DDT also hurt the truckers with the GOP “tax cuts”: they may each pay thousands of dollars more to the federal government because the new law cut out expense exemptions for per diam costs—about $15,000—for the 3.5 million truckers on the road. GOP congressional leaders have minimized the millions of additional dollars that truckers must pay. Only owner-operators, a very small percentage in the profession, escape because their profits are taxed at a far lower personal rate than the former corporate income. DDT loves trucks but not their drivers. 

Even leading tax cut architect Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who pushed through tax cuts for the wealthy and big business with the promise that they would pay for themselves, admits 18 months later that he was wrong. The obsession during President Obama’s first term to balance the budget has morphed into a deficit increase of almost 40 percent—during a healthy economy.    

DDT’s solution to problems with the economy is to threaten departure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after it criticized his tariffs and threats and accused them of defending businesses with organizations in China and Mexico. In an unplanned telephone interview with CNBC, he also lambasted the Federal Reserve Board for having raised interest rates and claimed that China let its currency to be weakened to mitigate the effects of U.S. tariffs.

Deadbeat DDT and Congress owe $7 million to Washington, D.C. for DDT’s inauguration ceremony as he gears up for an expensive campaign rally there on July 4. DDT also wants to hire a second fireworks company to provide a backdrop behind his speech at the Lincoln Memorial. DDT stiffed at least another ten cities for hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide public safety costs for his rallies going back three years. Another 60 cities have policies keeping them from billing politicians for police costs, and others chose not to bill him. A Spokane city council member asked, “Let’s be honest, when does Trump ever pay his bills?” DDT’s campaign had $40.8 million last March and doesn’t report any debts to municipal governments or police departments in FEC filings. Cities hosting DDT rallies also recorded an additional 2.3 assaults on the day of the rallies but didn’t have this problem with Hillary Clinton’s rallies. Counties hosting DDT campaign rallies saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes, compared to those that don’t host his events.

Washington, D.C. residents have filed to have DDT’s liquor license in his Washington hotel revoked because applicants must be of “good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure.”

DDT is known for making up conversations with anonymous people, but his quote that “without Donald Trump maybe there would be no NATO” was unfortunately attributed to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who knew nothing about the statement. DDT also thinks that the moon “is a part” of Mars. In still another fantasy, DDT claims that “there are those that say we have one of the finest Cabinets.”  

Mars may be out of the picture, but DDT still wants his “Space Force.” The House Armed Services Committee may add a bipartisan amendment to the 2020 fiscal authorization bill.

DDT is back from England, but this photograph of him commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, southern England, on June 5, 2019, says far more than a thousand words. 

The May deficit of $208 billion is 42 percent higher than the same month in 2018, making the cumulative deficit for the first eight months of fiscal 2019 at $739—just $40 billion short of the full 2018 deficit. The disaster came after the GOP/DDT tax act, projecting an additional $1.9 trillion over a decade. The year 2019 will reach over $1 trillion. Corporate income taxes are down $10 billion, and custom duties are up about $20 billion from massive tariffs paid by consumers.

In the past 30 years, one percent of people in the U.S. gained $21 trillion in wealth compared to a loss of $900 billion for the bottom 50 percent—the worst inequality since the 1920s. The top one percent has $30 trillion in assets, and the bottom have less than zero amount.

April 15, 2019

Tax Day: ‘Cuts,’ Returns

Today is the deadline for paying 2018 taxes, and the amount of taxes that people pay has consumed conversation for over a year, ever since DDT and other Republicans gave the wealthy and big business a huge tax break that cost the United States $1.5 trillion. When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) delivered his rally speeches, he promised that people would get an additional $4,000, but over 80 percent of taxpayers didn’t get this generous bonus. Instead 10,260,263 paid more taxes last year after DDT’s 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, and raises for most people were under $1,000. The law eliminated personal and dependent exemptions, caps on state and local deductions, employee business expenses deductions, etc. The cap of $10,000 on state and local tax deductions was onerous for many people, especially those who have lived in their home for a long time or have high state income tax, although DDT claimed that only the wealthy were hurt.

Researchers found that “half the tax cuts went to the richest five percent, with about a quarter going to the richest one percent. Those among the top five percent got bigger tax cuts not just in dollar terms but even when measured as a share of their total income.” Households making between $500,000 and $1 million had their after-tax income rise by an average of 5.2 percent. Households making less than $50,000 experience only a 0.6 percent increase. In even greater income inequality, W-2 wages fell 2.0 percent in 2018. Bonuses fell $0.22 for 2018, and the average bonus for 2018 was just $0.01 higher than in 2017. Most bonuses came from recruiting because of low unemployment instead of production from company tax cuts.

Big benefits went to Fortune 500 companies: at least 60 profitable corporations will pay nothing—some of them getting back extra money from the government. That number is double from previous years. Instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes on their $79 billion of pretax income, the companies got rebates of $4.3 billion—a GOP gift of over $20 billion used to buy up stock and sock away in hidden offshore accounts. A few corporations with this advantage: Amazon, Chevron. Deere, Delta Air Lines, General Motors, Halliburton, Honeywell International, Molson Coors, and Prudential Financial. Another 51 companies with zero or minus taxes.

Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan’s CEO, bragged to shareholders that tax cuts for the bank add “$3.7 billion to net income.” But the increase “will be erased” so that shareholders won’t expect to get higher profits. The justification for the company’s spending $55 billion in stock buybacks? You have to buy back your own stock at “tangible book value.” And then at “two times tangible book value.” So buy back stock at any price, according to Dimonomics.

DDT surely gained millions—perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars—from DDT’s tax cuts for the wealth as did people he chose for his officials. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified in support of $6.7 billion in education cuts at a congressional hearing, but she saved at least $10 million in taxes for 2018. Amway, her family’s company structured as an S-corporation, dropped its taxes from 39.6 percent to 29.6 percent in what Republicans called a small business cut. The education cut comes from the tax cuts’ failure to continue revenue for the government; instead revenue is plummeting. DeVos’ $10 million in taxes would have supported work-study funding for 5,600 students, Nevada’s entire share of the 21st Century Community Learning Center after school program, or funding for Full Service Community Schools academic and social services at schools in 20 communities—programs that DeVos wants to eliminate because of no revenue. DDT wants to make his tax cuts for the wealthy permanent with a conservative addition to the deficit of $1 trillion over a decade.

In their effort to convince people that they are paying lower taxes, Republicans have decided to make the withholding form so complicated that they can just say that people aren’t being ripped off. Past forms asked for the number of allowances based on exemptions. The new form requires annual dollar amounts for nonwage income, such as interest and dividends; itemized and other deductions; income tax credits expected for the tax year; and total annual taxable wages for all lower-paying jobs in the household for people with multiple jobs. The new form references 12 IRS publications for its completion and looks like the 1040 for final taxes instead of a simple W-4. The former year’s 1099, pay stubs, or 1040 returns are necessary for making the withholding calculations.

People are required to tell the “primary” employee about all their other income as well as that of their family and will probably need training to fill it out. Productivity will shrink and privacy goes out the window. And states may also require a new withholding form instead of the current W-4. Remember when Republicans said that people could fill out their tax return information on a postcard? It’s not happening.

Polling indicates that only 17 percent of people think that they got any tax cut even if they did. This perception comes from most taxpayers getting only a small cut. Only one-third of people approve of the legislation that DDT saw as his signature legislative achievement. Economic growth, a talking point around tax cuts, is slightly worse than in 2015, and job growth has slowed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said about the tax cut when it was passed:

“If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.”

The 77-year-old man is up for re-election next year. He may have the chance for “another line of work.”

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)’s tax reform proposal, “Real Corporate Profits Tax,” might force a modicum of honesty on huge corporations. She recommends that companies reporting more than $100 million in worldwide profits pay seven percent on every dollar above the first $100 million claimed in profits to their investors. After CEO’s like Dimon brag about their tremendous profits, companies currently convince the IRS that they make no profits and thus pay no taxes. J.P. Morgan made over $131 billion in 2018 but paid less than $10 million in taxes. Warren maintains that raising the corporate tax rate does no good because the tax code is “so littered” with loopholes. She estimates that charging 1,200 companies subject to this tax would give “smaller” businesses “a fighting chance.” Companies paying no taxes would pay some taxes—Amazon would pay $698 million in taxes and Occidental Petroleum, $280 million. Last year, Amazon got a tax refund of $129 million plus paying no taxes.

For people who complain about costs of Social Security and healthcare, consider another destination for tax money. Of every dollar in taxes, 24 cents go to the military. Of those 24 cents, only 5 cents go to our troops while 12 cents go to corporate military contractors. The average taxpayer gave $1,704 to Pentagon contractors last year but only $683 for military pay, housing, and other benefits except $833 to military health care. The average U.S. taxpayer gave $225 to Lockheed’s executives and shareholders. Its CEO Marillyn Hewson got over $20 million for 2017, but the top pay for a four-star general or admiral is $189,600. The lowest-rank enlisted soldiers make just $20,172. Boeing got $100 from the average taxpayer, the same amount as all of education received.

And a shout out to DDT’s tax returns. Writing that concerns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “lack merit,” House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA) has given IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig a firm deadline of April 23 to turn over six years of DDT’s tax returns. Two days later, DDT’s personal lawyer wrote the Treasury Department to stop the tax returns from being handed over to House Democrats.

DDT’s tax preparer Mazars USA told House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that it would turn over ten years of DDT’s tax returns if the company received a subpoena. In an attempt to hide the returns, DDT’s lawyers have threatened the firm with legal action if it follows the law. The letter accused Cummings of wanting the returns only for political reasons, basically accusing a member of Congress of being a liar.  calling it a politically motivated scheme to take down the president. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), members of the Oversight Committee, also accused Democrats of requesting DDT tax returns “solely to embarrass President Trump.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders passed along the DDT party line of smears and threats about Democrats requesting DDT’s his tax returns when she claimed that Democrats aren’t “smart enough” to look through his returns and that they are on a “dangerous, dangerous road.” DDT was tried twice for civil tax fraud, criticized by judges in both cases, and faced his own tax lawyer testifying against him.

Protesters brought an inflatable figure to the steps of the IRS when they asked for DDT to release his tax returns. The group uses the figure because DDT is “too chicken” to release his tax returns. The first “chicken bearing a resemblance to DDT was 23 feet tall and complete with golden hair pompadour and preening gestures. It arrived at a Chinese mall less than a month before DDT’s inauguration in preparation for the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Questions: If there is nothing wrong with DDT’s tax returns, why would he be embarrassed? If there is something wrong, why isn’t a look at them not warranted?

 

March 14, 2019

DDT’s Budget: Cruel

Filed under: Budget — trp2011 @ 8:42 PM
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Amid the continuing scandals this week, including purchasing college placements and Boeing’s aviation disaster, the month-late budget from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) lost its media traction after a day. It does, however, present his priorities of wall ($8.6 billion) and the military ($750 billion) with a $34 billion increase, priorities which translate into a white country and war. Every line item except the census, private VA care, and deportation/detention took hits—some of them huge. The budget even indicates expectations of ongoing annual deficits of at least $1 trillion while keeping tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow claimed that rapid growth needs these cuts, but the Congressional Budget Office projects 2019 GDP growth at 2.3 percent, down 25 percent from 2018. Last year’s unbalanced budget of $4.4 trillion relied on rose-colored economic projections that didn’t see fruition.

Some of DDT’s annual cuts:

  • No increase in opioid funding;
  • $5 billion cuts to NIH budget, including huge ones to HIV and cancer (forgets his State of the Union promise);
  • Repeal of Affordable Care Act with no alternative;
  • Insurer permission to discriminate against clients with preexisting conditions and greatly reduce insurance subsidies for low- and middle-income people;
  • $77 billion cut for Medicaid and ACA, converting Medicaid into block grants so that states can determine coverage guidelines, mandating work requirement and increasing co-pays;
  • $84.5 from Medicare;
  • $22 billion from food stamps;
  •  $20.7 billion from student aid for higher education;
  • $2.5 billion from Social Security’
  • Almost one-third loss to EPA and over two-thirds cuts for renewable energy research and innovation;
  • 31 percent cut for the Army Corps of Engineers;
  • 23 percent cut for the State Department;
  • 15 percent cut for the USDA (there goes any food safety);
  • 14 percent cut for Interior Department, including national parks;
  • And much more.

The ten-year budget projects a $1.1 trillion deficit in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and a $1 trillion deficit in 2022 with the national debt ballooning by 50 percent in the next decade by 2029.

DDT’s budget already cuts food help by almost 30 percent, but he has returned to wanting the scam of giving people a box of canned food instead of allowing them to determine what they can purchase with food stamps. Last year, Budget director Mick Mulvaney, now also acting chief of staff, tried to compare the “Harvest Box” that lacked any fresh ingredients to a luxury meal service, but he had no idea what the costs and logistics would be, especially with the promise of home delivery to each recipient. He still doesn’t have any ideas about these questions. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation opposes the idea which has been called “flawed and harmful.”

Over 51 million U.S. households—43 percent—cannot afford the basics of food, transportation, and healthcare. The food stamps for 19 million people are equivalent to the tax cuts for the top 1 percent, and they go directly to improve the nation’s economy, unlike tax cuts for the wealthy. The nine percent cut to non-defense programs hits Section 8 housing vouchers, public housing programs, Head Start, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, among others.

DDT’s budget cuts the Community Development Block Grant that includes Meals on Wheels program that delivers meals to low-income seniors to help them eat and stay in their homes. The cut of 16.4 percent in HUD eliminates the public Housing Capital Fund and the HOME Investments Partnerships Program as well as the National Housing Trust Fund that helps low-income renters such as veterans, people with disabilities, seniors, and households experiencing homelessness. DDT’s federal work mandate for food stamps and Medicaid opposes even the GOP Congress. Despite his promise to help manufacturing workers, he eliminates the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which helps small- and mid-size manufacturers compete.

The budget also funnels the funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) through Congress instead of the Federal Reserve. If Republicans regain control of the House, the CFPB can return consumers to the mercy of financial scammers, big banks, and Wall Street special interests. DDT’s biggest cuts are to agencies designed to protect people in the United States, including workers’ safety and rights.

This Monday, March 18, another shoe will drop in the series of financial disasters when DDT has to release the proposed detailed budget. Last year, he tried to cut Head Start by $1.3 billion a year, eliminating vital early education for hundreds of thousands of low-income children. He also tried to wipe out Legal Services Corporation, legal representation for almost 2 million low-income people, along with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance for 6.7 million low-income families, 90 percent of them with a senior, a child, or a person with a disability. If DDT meets his deadline, people will see the next hit list of poor people.

DDT’s budget feeds his ravening base: increases call for his wall and military, and decreases punish the poor, considered by his base as undeserving. He expects more money from additional fees, already dismissed by Congress, and a rosy high economic growth of over 3 percent, an idea negated by the Congressional Budget Office which predicts 1.6 and 1.8 percent over the next ten years. More optimistic, the Federal Reserve settled around 2 percent annual growth. The lowest growth rate in a half century, the 0.4 percent increase because of the tax cuts is 4 to 9 percent lower this year when considering inflation.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders began her defense of DDT’s budget with a lie, that it keeps his promises, and Russell Vought had to cover for her with more lies. (The White House calls Vought “director of Office of Budget and Management” although Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff, never resigned from being OBM Director.) Asked about DDT’s promise “eliminate the national debt in eight years,” Vought blamed President Obama—who had nothing to do with DDT’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, his inflated military funding, and his trade war with China. Vought also lied about what DDT said in saying that he would “attempt” to pay off the debt. In addition, DDT’s promise was to “balance” the budget, which means eliminating the annual deficit that went higher than $1 trillion last year.

Questioned about DDT’s breaking his promise for not reducing Medicare and Social Security, Vought said: “What we are doing is putting forward reforms that will lower drug prices and that, because Medicare pays a very large share of drug prices in this country, has the impact of finding savings. We’re also finding waste, fraud and abuse, but Medicare spending will go up every single year by healthy margins and there are no structural changes for Medicare beneficiaries.” DDT’s NAFTA proposal guarantees monopoly rights for big pharma so that they can avoid competition from generic drugs.

DDT is already contorting the existing congressional budget by removing $385 million from programs to cover health needs for lower-income preschool children, HIV and cancer patients, and Alzheimer’s sufferers to detain over 15,000 undocumented youth in DDT’s manufactured border crisis. HHS Secretary Alex Azar reallocated $446 million to detention centers from healthcare programs such as those for teen pregnancy prevention and research for flu vaccine and women’s cancer. Azar’s latest announcement came after the report that 4,500 children have been sexually abused in U.S. immigration centers since 2014, including 178 abused by HHS staffers or government contractors running the facilities.

People keep saying that they voted for DDT and still support him because he is a businessman and they want the United States to be run like a business. DDT business style is to use corruption and fraud to make money, declare bankruptcy and take money from investors, fail and get more money from his father, and move on to another company. When he applies the same system to the U.S., over 300 million people will be lost because there is no other country where we can go.

March 9, 2019

DDT: Week 111 – A Plague of Lost Court Cases, Investigations, Inhumanity

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has had another hard week: Jane Mayer’s article about the “Fox White House,” burgeoning investigations including a look into his giving his children high-level security clearances, and the revelation that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons after DDT took Kim Jong-Un “at his word.” The courts are also dealing DDT a few blows.

Another judge has ruled against DDT’s citizenship question on the 2020 census, ruling that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in “bad faith,” broke several laws, violated the constitutional representative democracy by deliberately undercounting specific populations, and lied under oath to Congress, according to uncovered emails. The Supreme Court will hear arguments about the questions in late April before the census materials go to the printer in June.

Another federal judge expanded his ruling to reunite over 2,700 migrant children with their parents to all parents separated at the border on or after July 1, 2017, far earlier than the previous order going back to June 26, 2018. Judge Dana Sabraw was responding to the DHS report that unknown thousands of children may have been separated since summer of 2017. He will consider the next steps on March 28, 2019 and wrote, “The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders.”

In more lack of concern for human life, DDT revoked the mandate that the U.S. report the number of civilians killed in drone strikes outside war zones. Since he was inaugurated, a recorded 2,243 drone strikes, far more than the total 1,878 during President Obama’s eight years, have killed civilians. With almost no congressional oversight or media attention, DDT is also waging a secret war in Somalia, killing at least 252 people in two dozen airstrikes thus far this year. The Pentagon has deployed 500 U.S. troops, including special ops, in the country.

Demonstrating disregard toward Palestine, DDT closed the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem serving as a de facto embassy for Palestinians and sending them to the U.S. Embassy to Israel where Ambassador David Friedman, fierce critic of Palestinian leadership, further recognizes Israeli control over Palestinian land in Jerusalem and the West Bank. DDT has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Palestinians which includes help for hospitals and peace-building programs as well as funding for the UN agency providing aid to Palestinian refugees. Last fall, he shut the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in charge of peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestine, said that the U.S. will reveal the deal, rejected by the Palestinian Authority, after April’s Israeli elections.

DDT promised Alabama “A Plus treatment” after 23 people died in a tornado.  About California, where 86 people died in just one town’s fire, DDT tweeted:

“Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”

Embarrassing even the State Department and the Department of Defense, DDT may demand that Germany, Japan, and possibly all other allies hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of U.S. soldiers deployed in their countries—plus another 50 percent or more. U.S. keeps bases in these countries for our benefit—for example, emergency care in Germany for U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq and other hot spots. Although Germany sometimes opposes involvement in the Middle East, one German base provides a necessary staging post for U.S. military actions in Iraq and Libya. German bases also provide headquarters for the U.S. Africa Command, and marines crisis response forces in Spain and Italy protect U.S. interests and diplomatic compounds in Africa. If DDT removes the bases, the U.S. will lose the benefits while paying more of money to support the troops.

DDT’s appointees are becoming increasingly disturbed about DDT’s orders to them coming from his “gut.” Last December, DDT said he was pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, and his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, quit. Two months later, he said he would leave 2,000 there—and then 4,000. Now he’s “100 percent” behind keeping troops in Syria. Even national security adviser is disturbed about the North Korea buildup fiasco, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finds himself consistently forced to lie for DDT. As Michael Cohen said in his testimony to the House Oversight Committee, “The more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.”

In his testimony, Cohen said that DDT’s run for president was “to make his brand great, not to make our country great.” DDT proved Cohen right when he tweeted an advertisement for his Scottish golf course, incidentally violating two clauses of the U.S. Constitution. He may also be in deeper hot water if anyone investigates the financing for the golf course like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) plans.

Tens of thousands of dollars poured into DDT’s inauguration fund from shell companies hiding foreign contributors, at least one of them ineligible for political donations because of U.S. election law. The daughter for a contributor received a White House internship, and a Washington lobbyist has already admitted that he funneled $50,000 to the inauguration from a Ukrainian oligarch. Another $25,000 was traced to an Israeli businessman. Things are so bad for DDT that Forbes thinks his Trump Organization could be charged as a “RICO enterprise.” And Michael Cohen is suing DDT for almost $2 million in unpaid back legal fees from 2018.

Since Democrats said that they would not have a debate on Fox, DDT said he would block other networks from hosting debates. DDT’s Mar-a-Lago buddies call him “king,” perhaps making him think he has the ability to tell the media what to do.

After giving trillions of dollars to the wealthy and big business, DDT plans to become the king of fiscal responsibility. On the first of March, the U.S. national debt hit $22 trillion, requiring another vote to raise the debt ceiling following months of using “extraordinary measures” to pay the country’s bills. March 11 is the deadline for the White House to release DDT’s broad budget priorities. The man who bragged “I’ve made a fortune by using debt” will make deep spending cuts in the safety net which won’t pass the House and increase military spending. DDT may cause another shutdown.

Corporation tax rates were cut 40 percent for 2018 while over 11 million taxpayers lost $323 billion in tax deductions. Republicans who passed the tax cuts, who said that the added revenue would make up for any deficits, are calling the $1 trillion addition to the U.S. debt a “threat to national security.” Five GOP senators and 50 GOP representatives are co-sponsoring legislation for a resolution stating “that deficits are unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous” and that Congress is committed to “addressing the fiscal crisis faced by the United States.”

The U.S. budget gap climbed to $310.3 billion from October to January, up from $175.7 the same time during previous year, while tax revenues were lower after the tax “reform”—corporate payments down 23 percent and income taxes down three percent. Individuals still paid the same amount as last year, however, because prices of good increased at least $25 billion from the tariff costs. Between the tariff and IRS withholding, individuals paid $839, and business paid $73 billion. The surplus in January dropped from $49.2 billion in January 2018 to $8.7 billion in January 2019.

DDT has found a flaw in his tax scam cut that offends his wealthy friends: because it restricts deductions of state and local taxes—including property tax—to $10,000 and the mortgage interest deduction to $750,000, people are leaving New York City and causing a decline in home prices. The reeling real estate market may cause a recession there. Republicans refuse to change that provision. Some of these frustrated tax payers may have formerly been doors to Republicans.

When DDT expressed belief in the innocence of New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, charged with soliciting prostitutes at a Florida spa, he forgot to mention that he watched the Superbowl at Mar-a-Lago with the spa chain’s founder, Li “Cindy” Yang, whose family still owns the spas. A visitor to the White House, Yang is quite a GOP supporter having posed for photos with Rep. Matt Gaetz, Gov. Ron DeSantis, GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. DDT signed a photo with Yang. [visual Yang] Other photos show Yang with Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Fox contributor Dan Bongino, who had a meltdown about its release.

The big media buzz this week was the light sentence that Paul Manafort received from the first judge. DDT worked hard to spin the ruling into his favor, claiming that the judge said, “No collusion!” The judge, however, declared that Manafort wasn’t on trial for or convicted of “anything to do with Russian colluding in the presidential election.” The second sentence with a maximum of ten years will be delivered this coming week.

February 8, 2019

DDT: Week 107 – Temper Tantrums, Threats

A wild week—Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) delivered his usual lies in the State of the Union speech and the House committees began its investigative hearings. Tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) have the stench of fear, with a recent example of a tirade about how investigations of his scandals not being “allowed” finished by how “Dems and their committees are … even stealing people who work at White House.” An unnamed staffer guided a CNN reporter to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, for an explanation. Schiff has hired former National Security Council members, who DDT had dumped, to work in the investigation into DDT’s finances and foreign connections. In an inverse act, Kashyap Patel, former staffer for former House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), to join the National Security Council.

Acting AG Matt Whitaker joined Republicans in responding with the same fear as DDT. Whitaker rudely responded to Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee hearing today, even telling the chair that his time for questioning was up. Whitaker said, “I’m here voluntarily,” but he might not be so fortunate at his next hearing. He refused to answer questions while disrespecting House Democrats. GOP committee members repeated conspiracy theories including the lie about the FBI tipping off CNN for the Roger Stone arrest. After he pounded the table and yelled at chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) tried to shut down Eric Swalwell (D-CA) when he questioned Whitaker about taking donations from foreign groups. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked Whitaker for the redactions in a memo from Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to Robert Mueller about the investigation. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asked Whitaker to get DOJ employees to be loyal to DDT, despite the oath that they take to be loyal to the U.S. Constitution. Vox has a good rundown of the event.

Because the Senate still has a GOP majority, Richard Burr (R-NC), chair of its Intelligence Committee, is dragging his heels in any investigation of Russia collusion, but DDT still had to lie when he said that the committee had finished its investigation and had found “NO COLLUSION.”

The shutdown came about—and may return—because Congress has not provided a budget that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will sign. At the same time, however, DDT has failed to comply with the law. It is his legal obligation to send a budget to Congress by the first Monday in February—February 4, 2019–which he has not done.

Yesterday was National Black HIV Awareness Day, and Tuesday DDT announced that he will end the HIV epidemic by 2030. Here’s the male white crowd who plan to carry out the plan.

The Supreme Court released both conservative and not-quite-so-conservative opinions. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing in striking down Louisiana’s restrictive anti-abortion law—at least for now—but moved to the conservative side in refusing a Muslim any religious support during his execution in Alabama. The Supreme Court had already found the Louisiana law unconstitutional when the same one was passed in Texas, but DDT has added two conservative justices since 2016 when Roberts had dissented from overturning the Texas law. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), up for reelection next year, is taking criticism when she supported Brett Kavanaugh for the high court because she believed his promise that he would not overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade, legalizing some abortions.

AMI, owner of the National Enquirer which helped elect DDT with its suppression of news, may have lost its immunity from Robert Mueller. If the publishing company cooperates and avoids committing crimes, it won’t face prosecution for paying off a woman who had an affair with DDT. Upset about news published in the WaPo, AMI tried to extort Jeff Bezos, the newspaper owner, by threatening to publish more embarrassing material about his sexual affair.

Instead of being coerced, Bezos published the extortion message and his response in which he defined the extortion terms:

“In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’”

Bezos’ documents can be read in entirety here. The National Enquirer’s final paragraph in the blackmail note reads:

“If [Jeff Bezos] agrees to cease and desist such defamatory behavior [meaning reporting in the Washington Post], we are willing to engage in constructive conversations regarding the texts and photos which we have in our possession. Dylan Howard stands ready to discuss the matter at your convenience.”

Bezos indicated that the reason for National Enquirer’s may be WaPo’s coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” wrote the world’s richest person.

DDT has refused to submit a requested report from Congress regarding White House findings on whether Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is personally responsible for the torture and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. intelligence determined that the premeditated murder was almost certainly from orders by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but DDT said he would retain relationships with Saudi Arabia even if the rulers were responsible for the killing. Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, has claimed that the killing was a “rogue operation.” A bipartisan Senate group is considering asking the White House to lay sanctions against anyone considered “responsible.” A bill might include a refusal to sell Saudi Arabia certain military arms.

ICE may have hit a new low. Ordered last summer by the Supreme Court to give specific hearing dates, ICE agents issued “dummy” dates with threats that people would be deported if they didn’t attend. Immigrants crossed the country to comply with the orders only to find that the fake scheduled hearings didn’t exist. Chaos ensured as the photo to the left shows. Court administrators tried to help the immigrants by double-checking addresses and promising that they would soon receive hearing notices.

Because DDT has pulled out of a nuclear treaty with Russia, Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s military to develop new ground-launched hypersonic missiles with an intermediate range and to convert previously sea-based cruise missiles for ground launch.

U.S. Central Command (Centcom) Commander Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. general in charge of military operations in the Middle East, testified that he was not consulted before DDT’s announcement of all 2,000 troop withdrawal from Syria. He also testified that taking pressure off ISIS will permit it to regroup and have “renewed vigor.”

The GOP and DDT’s tax cuts for the wealthy and big business may raise the deficit trillions of dollars, but many DDT’s supporters are discovering that it doesn’t help them. Here’s one of the angry responses:

“The @GOP tax bill cost my family THOUSANDS of dollars this year on our return due to changes, thereby hitting us with the LARGEST tax increase of our lives. We are middle-class homeowners, and you raised our taxes. Infuriating!”

IRS accounting deception to keep people unaware of how little tax cuts would help them—at least until after the midterm elections—may have added to their frustration. Instead of telling people that the tax “reform” wouldn’t give much relief to most people, the IRS changed withholding guidelines that would give more money back to workers in each paycheck by reducing the amount of taxes withheld throughout 2018. In the past, people tended to get refunds, but the new system means much smaller refunds or even the requirement to send more money to the IRS. Discovering that corporations are getting even more of a break than they were promised will undoubtedly result in more rage, especially if they find out that companies get a much larger tax break fi they move their profits overseas—about half as much tax responsibility.

Maybe some people have already learned their lesson: over three-fourths of registered voters want the wealthiest people in the U.S. to pay higher taxes. Even a Fox poll shows that 70 percent of people want increased taxes for those earning more than $10 million.

Other polls are also not favorable for DDT. He went into the Oval Office with a growing economy, but two years later, 56 percent of people in the U.S. believe that the economy is slowing down or worse. Seventeen percent think that the economy is in a recession or depression. Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe interest rates will go up in the next six months, including 20 percent who believe they will go up “a lot.” Likewise, a majority (61 percent) see inflation rising in the near future, including 17 percent who say it will increase a lot.

September 30, 2018

U.S. House: On Recess But Not Forgotten

The House of Representatives may be in recess to campaign for the next six weeks, but GOP members are still up mischief. Their vote to pass another round of tax cuts just before the November midterms gives an additional $3 trillion to the wealthiest people in the U.S. The vote of 220-191 included three Democrats; last year’s tax bill had no Democratic support. Part of the House tax plan costs come from the “Universal Savings Accounts” that has no limit for participation and permits withdrawal of funds before retirement. The shift of savings from taxable accounts primarily benefits the wealthy, the top one-percent of the population who can shift, on average, $9.5 million into tax-free accounts. The average 60 percent of people has $16,000 to shift.

After the last tax cuts, Republicans began to threaten slashing or even eliminating Medicare and Social Security because of the escalating deficit; this will cement that deal. The Republicans can’t campaign on the last tax cut: people believe the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle-class families” by a 2-to-1 margin, 61 percent to 30 percent. With 42 percent of people reporting that they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the GOP tax plan, compared to 36 percent in favor of those candidates, only 1,039 GOP TV campaign spots, under 12 percent of all GOP TV ads this year, mentioned the new tax bill. That bill was the only GOP accomplishment.

The House has departed at the same time that the Violence against Women Act lapses. Two weeks ago, the spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) reported negotiations with the Senate, but nothing has come of her promise. Even if the House took action, the GOP senate might oppose it. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the most unhinged supporter of Kavanaugh, is one of six GOP white men on judiciary committee who voted against VAWA in 2013. Graham’s state has the highest rate of women killed by men in 2014, twice the national U.S. average, with 92 percent of the female murder victims knowing their killer and 62 percent having been in an intimate relationship with the murderer. The leniency of court sentencing allowing the attackers back out on the street in a short time is one factor for South Carolina’s high rate of violence against women.

In addition to attempts to starve people by highly restricting food stamps, the farm bill awaiting House members’ return contains three climate and fiscal disasters for the United States:

  • Stop localities from regulating pesticides: This interactive map shows some of the places in danger.
  • Permit wealthy farmers to get crop subsidies: The new bill allows people making over $900,000 annually could give a loophole to exempt partnership, joint ventures, and other corporate farms.
  • Eliminate funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program: Gone would be offsets for some farmer costs such as crop coverings to keep soil and fertilizer in place over the winter, buffer strips that prevent severe soil erosion from storms, and hedgerows as habitat for wild bees and other beneficial insects.

Dark horse Rep. Beto O’Rourke (R-TX) is closing the gap between him and incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the race for Cruz’s position. While the senate was forced to stay in session most of August, O’Rourke was crossing the state, going to all 99 counties, and again Cruz is stuck in Washington, D.C. while the House is in recess. In the last debate, O’Rourke pointed out his opponent’s absences:

“Within months of being sworn to service, your senator Ted Cruz was not in Texas. He was in Iowa. He visited every single one of the 99 counties of Iowa. He went to New Hampshire, South Carolina. He went to the Republican presidential primary states instead of being here. He shut down your government for 16 days in 2013. Too many people were getting too much health care in the United States of America.”

O’Rourke told the crowd that Cruz missed one-fourth of the vote in 2015 and one-half the votes in 2016 and finished by saying, “Tell me, who can miss half the days at work and be rehired for the same job going forward?” Cruz was so positive that the senate would vote on Kavanaugh over the weekend that he canceled a debate with O’Rourke today. After the week’s hiatus before a vote, Cruz tried to reinstate the debate, but O’Rourke said that he was already booked. Donations were double for O’Rourke than Cruz as of June 30, another bad sign. Cruz’s campaign was based on ridiculing O’Rourke, but every attempt backfired.

Not satisfied with just smearing his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Ted Cruz is scamming older people to get campaign funds. Sean Owen wrote that his 88-year-old grandmother received what appears to be a summons from Travis County but is asking for donations to Cruz. He has a pattern of scamming people to get elected. To get people to the Iowa caucuses in 2012, Cruz sent mailers headed “VOTING VIOLATION” with a warning about “low expected voter turnout.” It purported to print the person’s voting scores, not available to the public in that state, and included a chart with false voting “grade” and “score” for the recipient and neighbors. The warning ended with the ominous statement: “A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.””

Incumbent candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife have been indicted on 60 charges related to fraudulent use of $250,000 in campaign funds in 200 incidences of lavish vacations and dinners, conspiracy, wire fraud, and filing false campaign-finance reports.  Included in the information are at least five of Hunter’s “personal relationships” with photographic evidence. Hunter has denied the charges while he runs racist, anti-Muslim advertising against his opponent. He describes himself as a Christian conservative and committed family man.

New York voters may also get another chance to elect a potential criminal: Rep. Chris Collins, charged with insider trading, decided he will run for re-election this fall after claiming that he wouldn’t. He has an 80 percent chance of winning in the conservative district, according to fivethirtyeight.com.

DDT slammed the DOJ for indicting these two representatives before the mid-term elections. Long live the swamp!

Fearing rough competition to his race to become Florida’s governor, former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) quit four months early to campaign—over 16 percent of the term that his voters expected him to serve. He might use the time to speak at more white supremacist conferences after the four times he addressed ones organized by the David Horowitz Freedom Center audiences. The organizer has said that blacks owe their freedom to whites and that the nation’s “only serious race war” is against white people. He told them that he admires “an organization that shoots straight … and is standing up for the right thing.” DeSantis started campaigning for the general election with the use of “monkey this up” when talking about his black opponent, Andrew Gillum. Tony Ledbetter, Volusia County GOP chair and paid employer for DeSantis’ campaign, posted a demand to move “animals … from our country.” Speakers at Horowitz conferences have made more disgusting comments about minorities, especially blacks. DeSantis resigned as administrator for a racist and Islamophobic Facebook group laden with conspiracy theories immediately after his affiliation was made public. Virginia GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart remained as administrator.

Thanks to the laxness of the FEC, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) violated election rules by keeping money raised for her primary campaign although she faced no challenge. Questioned about her actions, Love said she would keep the money and reclassify it later.

Taxpayers are still ponying up the money to pay for congressional members’ sexual assault settlements because Congress cannot agree on a law to stop it. Congressional workplace misconduct has cost taxpayers almost $15.2 million from 1997 to 2014. Does the Supreme Court have this arrangement to pay victims of sexual assault?

One wealthy donor is fed up with Republicans. Les Wexner, owner and CEO of L-Brands in Ohio, said he is “no longer a Republican” and spoke warmly about President Obama and his theme of bipartisan civility. Wexner said, “I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others.” A year ago, Wexner had told his employees that he felt “dirty” and “ashamed” because of DDT’s response to violence at the Unite the Right rally that killed a person in Charlottesville (VA).

In the NYT, Timothy Egan wrote about the bargain that the GOP made with DDT:

“Republicans would get tax cuts for the well-connected and a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court, and in turn would overlook every assault on decency, truth, our oldest allies and most venerable principles. They expected Trump to govern by grudges, lie eight times a day, call women dogs, act as a useful idiot for foreign adversaries, make himself a laughingstock to the world….

“A lifetime of Republican pieties, put forth by the bow-tied best and brightest, has gone up in a poof. Free trade? It’s been swamped by America First. Balanced budgets, living within our means? Get to love the trillion-dollar deficit, courtesy of those tax cuts.”

GOP congressional members are willing to sell out every Republican value in a sycophancy to DDT including a belief in their party over country.

September 3, 2018

DDT Not a ‘Jobs President’

Today is Labor Day, a day to celebrate workers, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—aka the “jobs president”—honored the hard-working people of the nation by attacking Richard Trumka, leader of the nation’s biggest union federation. Trumka dared to point out how DDT had “done more to hurt workers than to help” them and disagreed with DDT’s strategy on renegotiating the NAFTA trade pact because he might lose Canada.

  • How DDT has hurt U.S. workers:
  • Eliminating overtime pay for workers by dropping the salary threshold to the same one from 40 years ago.
  • Attempting to give tips for waitpeople to their employers.
  • Classifying workers as “independent contractors,” permitting employers to deny them benefits.
  • Failing to pass legislation for infrastructure improvement.
  • Signing an executive order that allows investment brokers to cheat people in their retirement funds.
  • Blocking workers from the courts with mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts.
  • Delaying and rolling back regulations to protect workers from job injuries.
  • Refusing to shield workers from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and metals like beryllium.
  • Allowing employees to keep faulty records about on-the-job injuries.
  • Blocking a requirement to report pay data by race, ethnicity, and gender, allowing larger racial and gender pay gaps.
  • Creating barriers for home care workers who want to support their union.
  • Proposing a family leave plan that forces workers to have less Social Security benefits when they retire.
  • Forgiving employers who violate wage and hour laws.
  • Limiting workers’ ability to decide with whom they want to form a union.
  • Making it harder for workers to bargain with the companies that influence their working conditions.
  • Disbanding labor-management forums for federal workers.
  • Endangering workers and first responders at chemical facilities.
  • Undermining the quality and pay of apprenticeship programs.
  • Limiting workers’ right to sue.
  • Reducing transparency in anti-union attacks.
  • Making it harder for workers to save for retirement.
  • Discriminating against LGBTQ workers.
  • Enacting tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy over the average worker.
  • Pushing immigration policies that hurt all workers.
  • Appointing anti-worker members to the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor. Undercutting key worker protection agencies by nominating anti-worker leaders
  • Stacking the Supreme Court with anti-worker justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Specifics about DDT’s anti-worker agenda.

How DDT has helped U.S. workers:

Last week DDT canceled a scheduled Congress-approved 2.1 percent pay raise for 1.8 million civilian federal employees at a time that the 2018 inflation is projected at 2.9 percent. These people include Secret Service, firefighters, and border patrol agents. One-third of them are veterans, many of them disabled. He claimed the purpose of the $3 billion savings was to “put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course” because of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.” At the same time, however, he has figured out how to give an additional $100 billion to the wealthiest after he and Congress passed $2 trillion tax cuts for the richest and plan another tax cuts this fall for the richest in the nation. Before a second tax cut, the new tax loophole for “passthrough” businesses that benefits the Trump Organization will cost $47 billion in just one year, and the tax cut for wealthy, multimillion-dollar estates costs another $8 billion.

DDT also plans another way to use his power to give the wealthy another $100 billion in tax cuts by indexing capital gains to inflation, an action that he could take without congressional action. Winners are 63 percent to the top 0.01 percent of the population, 86 percent to the top one percent, and 95 percent to the top five percent. They pay most of the capital gains taxes, meaning that this action does nothing for economic growth. Indexing capital gains worsens inequality adds to budget deficits, and opens up new tax shelters for the wealthy.   [capital gains visual]

Legislative and judicial obstruction has caused union membership to fall to under 11 percent in 2017, dropping from 25 percent in the 1970s. Yet wages have been flat during that fall. Yet union support has increased to 62 percent approval, the highest in over a decade. Wages rose as union membership was strong, but Ronald Reagan’s control of the NLRB after he broke the air controllers’ union vastly increased the amount of resources delegated to the top 1 percent. [visual union]

Labor Day under DDT’s rule:

“Real wages have fallen over the last year, despite an economy nearing full employment. Good jobs are still being shipped abroad. Our trade deficit with China climbed to its highest level on record in 2017. The $4,000 raise promised to workers out of the tax bill is nowhere to be seen. As Americans for Tax Fairness has documented, only 4 percent of workers received any increase from the tax cuts, while, as predicted, corporate CEOs used the cut for a record-breaking $700 billion in stock buybacks, lining their pockets and those of investors. Earlier this year, a careful analysis of government data showed that 43 percent of Americans couldn’t afford a basic monthly budget for housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and a monthly smartphone bill.”

Since the 1930s, union workers have earned about 20 percent more than non-union colleagues. More than that, however, a recent study shows that more unions meant more income equality because they increased the wages of the lowest-skilled. The chart to the left shows the correlation between the drop in union membership and the drop in middle-class income. Instead of working to raise their wage by demanding unions for all, however, those not in the union try to tear down unions. And the wealthiest and biggest businesses want an even larger share of the pie so they work to kill unions as they did in the Supreme Court Janus decision.

Riding on their victory in Janus, the conservative Illinois organization Liberty Justice Center has threatened to sue Oregon state and local government officials if they don’t immediately stop collecting union dues and agency fees. Oregon’s AG Ellen Rosenblum differs from the organization’s claim that unions cannot college any union dues until all employees agree to their membership. She had already sent an advisory after the Supreme Court ruling that public unions could not agency fees from a nonmember’s wages without the members’ becoming union members.

Employers and business-loving conservatives don’t provide benefits out of the goodness of their hearts. Most people don’t recognize what unions have accomplished for all workers in the United States.

 

Not everyone has these benefits, but all these workers’ rights can be lost in the current DDT downward trajectory:

  • Weekends, breaks (including lunch), 8-hour workday, 40-hour week, minimum wage, overtime pay, equal pay.
  • Child labor laws.
  • Safety standards and regulations.
  • Ways to fight discrimination (including age), wrongful termination, Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Paid vacation, sick leave, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, pensions.
  • Social Security, Medicare.
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act.
  • Military leave.
  • Privacy rights.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said on a Sunday talk show that Republicans should concentrate on the “good things” that DDT has done such as tax cuts and eradicating regulations—both benefiting only the extremely wealthy and big business. Reductions in union membership have a direct correlation with the increase of income to the top one percent.

ObamaCare is more popular than the GOP tax law, according to a new Fox News poll, with a 51 percent approval rating compared to the 40 percent approval for the tax cuts benefiting the wealthy and big business. DDT complains that Google has a majority of negative stories about him. If he wants positive media, he should do something that’s positive instead of negative actions against everyone except the top five percent in the United States.

 

 

When people say that they don’t need unions because their job gives them all these advantages, they are either unaware of situations where that doesn’t happen or just focus on themselves. In 1946, German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller wrote about the Nazi purges of groups, one by one, while people ignored the responsibility:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

DDT and the Republicans have come for the trade unionists. Are you next?

March 29, 2018

Did Your Pay Check Go Up?

Filed under: taxes — trp2011 @ 8:45 PM
Tags: ,

Republicans will be running for re-election this year on their signature legislation of the first two years—a tax cut for the wealthy and big business. How’s that working out?

CNBC’s All American Economic Survey from last week found one-third of respondents with more money in their paychecks from the law that will crank up the deficit by $1.5 trillion. Over half—52 percent—found no difference. Of the one-third with more money, under 40 percent—that’s about 13 percent of the respondents–said that the increase improved their finances “a great deal” or “a fair amount.” The remainder of the one-third said that the increase helps a small amount or not at all.

Corporations, however, are having a great time with all their extra money. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) defended her vote to pass the bill by saying:

“The purpose of lowering the corporate rate is to encourage job creation here. It is not to encourage stock buybacks.”

Immediately after the bill was signed into law, a few corporations announced $1,000 bonuses. (That gives workers less than $.28 per day.) Raises are planned by 13.2 percent of companies, and tax savings for 44 percent of businesses will go to acquisitions and new equipment, including robots to replace workers. The rest goes for stock buybacks and dividends, causing the stock market to go up almost 2,000 points before it dropped almost 3,000 points. Workers may have seen little extra money in their paychecks, but the average banker bonus on Wall Street last year was $184,220, the highest since before the financial crisis.

By the beginning of March, just two and a half months after the bill became law, retail companies gave employees bonuses about $3 million while spending $200 billion for stock buybacks, inflating the value of shares by reducing their supply. Executive pay is tied to stock performance, accounting for 82 percent of their pay in 2015. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a Senate floor speech:

“Stock buybacks are windfalls that drive up the value of investment portfolios for CEOs and high-flyers, and they’re coming in at a rate 30 times greater than worker bonuses—30 to one! They’re on pace to double the amount from the first quarter of last year.”

The richest 10 percent of stock owners owned 84 percent of all stock in 2016 while one in four jobs pays below the federal poverty level.

Almost 37 percent of households in the nation are “liquid asset poor,” lacking enough savings to support their families for three months at the federal poverty level if they lose their jobs. The cost of houses has gone up 4.1 percent to $8,000 since last year while the median household income has increased by only 2 percent. Despite workers searching for temporary employment and jobs to supplement their other jobs, 40 percent of households have difficulty paying bills. And the tax cuts have given a pittance—if anything—to these people, less than $60 to families earning under $25,000.

DDT told workers in Ohio that they would receive between $2,000 and $4,000 from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and that more than 300 companies delivered bonuses, raises, or 401(k) investments to over three million people. DDT’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn announced that with another $1,000, a family “can renovate their kitchen, they can buy a new car, they can take a family vacation.” Twitter took on Cohn’s statements; the most accurate one stated, “To Cohn’s credit, he’d be right if this were the 1930’s.”

Republican legislators did well with the new tax law. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) got $500,000 from the Koch brothers and another $500,000 from just five wealthy donors for his tax bill. The bill also gave Ryan a $19,000 tax break with his bill, far more than the $78 that Ryan bragged that a school worker received. The new law threatens affordable health insurance and Social Security, costing people far more than any extra they now receive.

Over 12,000 retail stores are expected to close in 2018, up from the 9,000 that closed in 2017. Two-dozen major chains including Walgreens, Gap, and Gymboree are planning to close over 3,600 stores this year. Last year 50 retail chains filed for bankruptcy. Among 25 major retailers likely to file for bankruptcy are Sears, Bon-Ton Stores, Bebe Stores, Destination Maternity Corp., and Stein Mart. Almost one-fourth of U.S. malls, approximately 310 of 1,300 shopping malls, may lose its anchor tenants, causing other retail stores to flee.

Even the bonuses come with strings such as longevity of service, and they are attached to firings and store closures, like those at AT&T, Lowe’s, Walmart, Pepsi, Carrier, Kimberly Clark, etc.

The new GOP tax law causes huge problems for almost every state. Some blue states are examining the reclassification of state property and income state taxes as charitable contributions because that’s the biggest hit for places such as California, New York, and New Jersey. But almost all 41 states with personal income tax use either federal adjusted gross income or federal taxable income as their starting points for the state income tax. The federal shift can cause big swings in state revenue, causing losses of tax income. The almost-double standard deduction and giveaway to pass-through entities blows up the deficit on both the federal and state levels, and states will hurt even more with cuts in entitlement and safety net funding. Plus states’ responsibility for 80 percent of infrastructure funding will cause more problems. The federal government is taking taxes to give to the wealthy and big corporations leaving states in serious debt to take up the losses. And almost every state must meet a balanced-budget requirement, meaning no deficit from one year to the next the way that the federal government operates. One solution is to “decouple” from the federal code which means trickle-down complexity.

The tax bill was based on lies, such as the one that the tax cuts will pay for themselves and not raise the deficit. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made the claim that his department had run the numbers and found no deficit, but he even lied about the existence of this study. Then Republicans will use the deficit to take away the safety net, including Social Security and Medicare.

Not happy with everything that they have given to the wealthy and large corporations, Republicans are planning another tax cut bill. In the first one they passed last year, cuts for individuals expire in ten years; now the GOP plans to force a vote to make them permanent. If Democrats oppose the bill, the GOP will call them opponents of the middle class.

The GOP plan to corner Democrats with Tax Cut Bill II may turn on them. Making the taxes permanent will add at least another $1.5 trillion to the deficit in the decade after 2025 while reminding people that the GOP favored corporations over them by making taxes permanent for businesses. Another problem for Republicans is that they need at least nine Democrats this time around because of different Senate rules, and they still won’t let Democrats be involved in talks about the bill.

To pass the tax cut law, Republicans promised that everyone would get $1,000 or $2,000 or $4,000 during the next year depending on who was talking and when. People are beginning to figure out that the Republicans lied. The next arguments might not get swallowed as easily. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said, “The proof is in the paycheck. That’s a message we can run on.” It might be easier to use this for an election argument if the paycheck showed more money.

Republicans are still planning to take Social Security and Medicare to pay for the deficit caused by tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said last week, “The name of the game in debt and deficits is entitlements.” The GOP needs older voters who may not vote for candidates who take their living expenses and health care.

November 27, 2017

December – GOP Breaking Point

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:23 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

With 15 days of work left before their holiday hiatus at the end of December, Congress may face a far more difficult task than in September unless they shuffle everything down the pike, as they did two months ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the Republicans have more than a full plate for its few working days.

Government shutdown: The lights in the government go off on December 8 without further action on the spending bill. Spending caps cause trouble for this bill, so House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) may float another short-term bill, something that the Republicans lambasted Democrats for doing before the GOP was in power. The 2011 Budget Control Act set 2018 caps which will automatically go into effect in January without a deal to raise them. No legislation has been written, and the Senate needs at least 60 votes, meaning at least eight Democrats.

Without a change in the law, defense programs get only $549 billion, and nondefense programs are limited to $516. DDT and the GOP haws want over $600 billion for defense, and Democrats want the same increase in nondefense spending.

CHIP: The Children’s Health Insurance Program for nine million children and 370,000 pregnant women in poverty expired at the end of September, and funding may end up in the December spending bill. The program is running out of money for the first time since it was created two decades ago.  The expenditure of $15 billion for CHIP is vital for preventative health care, but families are already receiving notice that their children can no longer have this coverage.

DACA: The deadline for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing some undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to work and attend school without fear of deportation, isn’t until March, but Democrats may force the issue as part of the spending bill.

Tax cuts: At least 50 GOP senators must sign off on a bill that increasingly gouges people the poorer they are. Then the bill has to go to the House which either signs off on it or creates its own version and then sends it back to the Senate for approval. At least eight GOP senators don’t like the bill, each for his own reason, but they may end up caving in because donors are insisting that the GOP Congress do SOMETHING! Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants to repeal with healthcare individual mandate, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) oppose that part of it because the loss of the mandate may destabilize health care markets. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) refuses to vote in favor of the bill unless he gets more perks for his personal small business. Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are leading the charge in opposing the $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit.

To keep the vote for tax cuts to a simple majority, the increase in deficit can be no more than $1.5 billion. As senators consider tweaks to keep some of the reluctant GOP senators in line, the deficit goes up, requiring that other cuts be made. One suggestion is to just eliminate all the cuts for individuals—not businesses—in the bill’s final year.

The popularity of the tax cut bill is going down and may shrink even more with the Congressional Budget Office report that poor people are hurt even worse than previously thought. People making less than $30,000 a year could be worse off by 2019, and those earning $40,000 will be losers by 2021. By 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 are worse off. In addition, the increase in health insurance premiums will take four million people off any plans by 2019 and 13 million by 2027. The rest of the people, 38 percent of the population, will keep getting tax cuts. The chart below indicates the amount that the government will reap from different salary groups—for example, the group of people making under $10,000 will pay an additional $1,540,000,000 whereas those making over $1 million a year will gain $34,100,000,000. The negative sign before the amount means less revenue for the government and shows that the poor pay for the rich.

FISA: Without a bill, this surveillance program expires at the end of the year, but bipartisan opposition to a “clean” renewal of warrantless spying comes from those who believe in privacy. At this time, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act permits the government to collect emails and texts from foreign spies, terrorists, and other overseas foreign targets without warrants. Proposals have been cleared by the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee, but neither has gone to a floor vote. The conservative House Freedom Caucus has pledged opposition because it violates the Fourth Amendment.

Flood Insurance: The House has passed its version of reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program, renewing it for five years, updating federal flood mapping requirements, and bolstering a new private flood insurance market. The Senate, however, has made no plans to address the House bill. The NFIP is $25 billion in debt.

Emergency disaster aid: The $44 billion package for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands is too small, according to some Republicans from Texas, although it’s added to another $50 billion. Conservatives will demand that cuts elsewhere pay for the $44 billion. The budget from DDT goes only to these places for hurricane relief; DDT has offered not one cent to the Western states ravaged by wildfires.

Iran: The 60-day deadline after DDT’s October statement that the nation is not in compliance with the agreement comes in December. Leading Republican senators want to keep the deal but pass legislation to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons after the deal expires. DDT will need to waive sanctions to keep the nuclear pact intact.

All these decisions are set against the background of ethics proceedings for continuing sexual assault and harassment accusations and a December 12 election to determine whether Roy Moore joins the Senate. Rep. Al Green (D-TX) has promised to force a vote to impeach DDT before the end of 2017.

In The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza writes that December is the make or break time for DDT:

“Year one is when Presidents usually make their mark[.] By the second year, a President’s legislative agenda becomes complicated by the hesitancy of members of Congress to take risky votes as midterm elections approach, particularly if a President is unpopular. The math is stark: on average, modern Presidents have historically lost thirty House seats and four Senate seats in their first midterm elections. Trump’s first year has been different. He has a record low approval rating. He is mired in scandal. [And] he looks like a President in his eighth year rather than one in his first. … He is unique among modern Presidents in that he has no significant legislative accomplishments to show for ten months after taking office.”

What’s missing from this list of must-dos? Restricting bump stocks or closing the domestic violence loopholes in the gun laws.

November 20, 2017

Tax cuts: The GOP Has to Do Something!

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:16 PM
Tags: , ,

The U.S. public can give thanks this week because Congress can’t do any damage to us; they’ve all gone home for thanksgiving.  They’ll be back next week, however, when the Senate takes up the House bill that raises taxes on everyone except the wealthy and corporations. Even the conservative publication Forbes thinks that congressional tax “reform” is crazy: it has published a piece called “GOP Tax Bill Is the End Of All Economic Sanity In Washington.”

“There’s no economic justification whatsoever for a tax cut at this time. U.S. GDP is growing, unemployment is close to 4 percent (below what is commonly considered “full employment”), corporate profits are at record levels and stock markets are soaring. It makes no sense to add any federal government-induced stimulus to all this private sector-caused economic activity, let alone a tax cut as big as this one. This is actually the ideal time for Washington to be doing the opposite….

“The GOP’s insanity is compounded by its moving ahead without having any idea of what this policy will actually do to the economy. The debates in the Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees and on the House floor all took place before the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis and, if it really exists, the constantly-promised-but-never-seen report from the Treasury on the economics of this tax bill.”

On CNN, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney promised that “the president is not going to sign a bill that raises taxes on the middle class, period.” Yet this is what the Senate tax bill does.

 

Information about tax cuts keeps trickling out with these disasters after this post on Nels New Day. Gone are tax credits for plug-in motor vehicles, deductions for medical expenses and moving expenses, write-offs for tax preparation, most tax benefits for college in student loans and tuition waivers for graduate students, deductions for theft or loss of valuables—even in wildfires. Although low-income housing keeps its small subsidy, the bill ends the tax-free status of bonds for financing and repair, which has the same affect as dropping the subsidy. Affected by this loss are all private enterprises serving the public interest such as airports and waste disposal facilities.

A huge drawback to the GOP tax bill is that it continues to move manufacturing offshore. The bill allows manufacturers to pay nothing to the U.S. for its products. CEOs won’t bring foreign profits into the U.S. when their taxes are based on the country where factories are located. The GOP fantasy is that these companies will invest in U.S. jobs. They have not done this in the past, and they have blatantly said they won’t do it with the proposed tax bill. The 15 corporations benefitting most from the 2004 tax holiday cut over 20,000 jobs and reduced their research spending.

A basic GOP premise of tax cuts is to punish blue states and reward red states that already get back more than they pay in federal taxes. The punitive measures come from curtailing or eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes and dropping the home mortgage interest deduction. Congress also refuses to provide any assistance for the billions of dollars lost to wildfires in the West while giving tens of billions to Texas and Florida for help after hurricane damage. Puerto Rico, which can’t help Republicans win a presidency, will get funding but only through loans.

Republicans claim that dropping health insurance mandates from the Senate bill, but people who get subsidies will continue to buy the insurance. There will be no savings for the government.

Other losses in deductions:

  • Alimony: No longer deductible for decrees after 2017.
  • College boosters: No longer deductible if for eligibility in buying seats at games or preferences such as prime parking places.
  • Employee achievement awards.
  • Employer-provided housing: A cap of $50,000 salary.
  • Home sale gains: Qualification requires the home to be the primary home for five of the past eight years instead of two of the past five years.
  • Office day care center.
  • Rare disease research.
  • Stadium bonds (DDT promised to do this to the NFL).

Winners:

REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTSO7UI

  • Businesses because they receive three-fourths of the benefits.
  • Owners of jets and golf coursesThe savings on each of these are minimal compared to lost benefits, but it should keep Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) satisfied.
  • Churches that can campaign for political candidates.
  • Anti-abortion activists because people can name fetuses as beneficiaries of 529 college savings plans. The tax bill defines “child in utero” in personhood terms as “a member of the species of homo sapiens at any state of development, who is carried in the womb.” Law already covers the 529 accounts, but the bill throws the door open to making all abortion illegal.
  • Inheritors for 5,500 estates that drops not only tax on the estate but also on any capital gains on inherited taxes until they are sold.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tries to convince the people that the new plan is “fair” and “simple” because taxes can be filed on a postcard. Yet the card has no instructions on the card to explain what should be put in a line—i.e., what is a savings plan?—and even asks for the Social Security number to be put on the back of a card that gets put into the mail, available for anyone to see it. And people pay more taxes.

VP Mike Pence sounded sincere when he lied to a Wall Street CEO gathering. He claimed that workers could keep more of their money (false) and companies are incentivized to bring jobs back to the United States (false). Instead of eliminating loopholes, the tax bill leaves them only for the wealthy. According to Ivanka Trump, people can use their tax cuts to hire a tutor to teach their children the Mandarin Chinese language. Gary Cohn, DDT’s multi-millionaire economic advisor, cheerfully claimed that people can use their $1,000 in tax cuts for remodeling the kitchen or buying a new car.

Bruce Bartlett, an expert in supply-side economics serving under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said, “There has never been a tax cut in American history in which taxes were raised on the poor to benefit the wealthy. I don’t know of any other country that has done anything remotely like this.” After 1986 tax cuts, wages fell for ten years. Most Republicans have no answer for the failure of tax cuts although Mulvaney tried to explain that the world is different now.

When Bill Clinton raised taxes on top earners from 31 percent to 39.6 percent in 1993, the economy boomed. It created 23 million jobs and grew the economy for 32 straight quarters, at that time the longest expansion in history.

According to a Quinnipiac poll, only 25 percent of people like the GOP tax plan, and only 16 percent think it will reduce their taxes. Thirty-five percent expect their taxes to increase. Only 24 percent say it will help the middle class the most, while 61 percent think that the wealthy benefits most.

This photo shows the GOP position toward tax cuts that take money away from most of the people to benefit the wealthy. The “King of Foreclosure” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his ultra-wealthy wife admire new bills with his name emblazoned on it.

The Republicans have only one reason to destroy the U.S. economy with their tax cuts: get their donors back. If they don’t pass something, nobody will fund their campaigns. In their reality, better to pander to donors than help the hundreds of millions of people in the United States.

The Senate tax bill has differences from the House bill that may cause trouble when Congress returns next week. Three defectors to the tax bill will sink it. Here’s a partial score card of concerned senators:

  • Susan Collins (ME): She opposes dropping the health care mandate, the “biggest mistake,” because it causes insurance premiums to drastically rise.
  • Ron Johnson (WI): A conservative, he owns a small business and wants more perks for it. His demand will increase the deficit and take the amount into an area 60 instead of 50 votes.
  • Bob Corker (TN) and Jeff Flake (AZ): They don’t like the $1.5 trillion—or more—deficit.
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK): She also doesn’t like dropping the individual mandate but said that “one should not assume this is a precondition for my support for the tax bill.” She likes the Arctic oil drilling in the bill.
  • Rand Paul (KY): He might back out without the repeal of the individual mandate.

It’s all a crap shoot; in the meantime we have Thanksgiving.

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