.. Not only did Trump put out a lengthy statement on Thursday bashing Steve Bannon, his former senior adviser, for coöperating with Wolff on his “phoney” book, his lawyers sent a letter to the publisher, Henry Holt, demanding that it halt publication. From that moment on, every self-respecting Trump hater in the country simply had to buy a copy.
.. a separate denunciation of Bannon from his longtime financial sponsor, the hedge-fund heiress Rebekah Mercer, who is a part-owner of Breitbart, the scrappy Web site that Bannon turned into a platform for Trump and the alt-right. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” Mercer said
.. “Bannon is resisting. He’s quite like Trump in this respect: he views any apology or admission of error as a sign of weakness.”
.. Trump thought the Mercers were as odd as everybody else thought. He didn’t like Bob Mercer looking at him and not saying a word; he didn’t like being in the same room as Mercer or his daughter. These were super-strange bedfellows—‘wackos’ in his description.”
.. not the demise of his ambitions to transform the G.O.P. into a nationalist/protectionist party modelled on the European right but the opening of a new front. Freed from the constraints of being inside the Administration, Bannon would be able to recruit candidates, raise money, and take down members of the Republican establishment.
.. Trump, in Bannon’s view, was a chapter, or even a detour, in the Trump revolution, which had always been about weaknesses in the two major parties
.. Trump was just the beginning.”
The rush to enact the tax bill was designed to mask — as a break for the middle class — what is in fact a $1.4 trillion package of benefits for key donors and lobbyists, the richest members of Congress, President Trump, his family and other families like his.
.. The speed from introduction to passage — seven weeks, with no substantive hearings — effectively precluded expert examination of the legislation’s regressive core, its special interest provisions and the long-term penalties it imposes on the working poor and middle class through the use of an alternative measure of inflation — the “chained CPI.”
.. The primary authors of the report — Ari Glogower, David Kamin, Rebecca Kysar, and Darien Shanske — describe the legislation as “a substantial blow to the basic integrity of the income tax” that will “advantage the well-advised in ways that are both deliberate and inadvertent.”
.. The most serious structural problems with the bill are unavoidable outcomes of Congress’s choice to preference certain taxpayers and activities while disfavoring others — and for no discernible policy rationale.
These haphazard lines are fundamentally unfair and inefficient, and invite tax planning by sophisticated taxpayers to get within the preferred categories.
.. The game is clear: Don’t be an employee, instead be an independent contractor or partner in a firm.” The ability to make this shift is available primarily to the well-paid.
.. It means that old property can still get the benefit of expensing, but only if it is sold to another party. If the original owner holds it, they have to depreciate according to the old rules; if they sell it to another party, then suddenly the full cost is eligible for expensing
.. It appears that the buyer of the asset could even lease it back to the existing owner, so that the property doesn’t even have to go anywhere.
.. create new incentives to shift tangible assets (and jobs) abroad. Given President Trump’s relentless message about U.S. jobs, it is incomprehensible to me that we are about to pass something that has this effect without any kind of meaningful discussion of the issue.
.. lower and middle-income families, who are especially dependent upon inflation-indexed deductions, credits, and bracket thresholds, will feel the impact increasingly as time goes on.
.. In the long term, Hemel argued,
this is a very subtle way to increase taxes on the lower and middle classes and then use those revenues to pay for a massive tax cut for corporations.
.. the shift to chained CPI — a less generous, slower-growing measure of inflation than the one currently in use — would not only result in a tax increase over time, it would set a precedent for Republicans who would like to use the same method to pare back so-called entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. It is, in effect, a backdoor method of reducing benefits for the elderly and the disadvantaged without public scrutiny or debate.
.. offers little redress to workers who have grown to believe that the country’s tax law thicket advantages those with power, political connections and lawyers on retainer.
.. (2) Carried interest provision. When Trump was careening around in his populist candidate mode, he promised to end it. Here is one campaign promise that he “somehow” failed to redeem when the clear and available chance presented itself.
(3) Restriction on state and C local tax deduction — consciously vindictive imposition of double taxation on citizens of certain Democratic states
.. (4) Expanding the standard deduction but financing the cost of so doing by repealing the personal exemptions is a bit of a bait and switch maneuver. Some people might be worse off.
(5) In a bill in which 100s of billions of dollars were sloshing around to provide steep tax cuts for already wealthy and highly prosperous corporations and pass through businesses, the Republicans could only find the will to raise the refundable portion of the child care tax credit from $1000 to $1400. Rubio wanted it to be raised to $2000 and his Republican brethren refused to even meet him halfway. Pitiful.
.. (6) Deduction for extraordinary medical expenses — retention of this deduction did not even get the five-year sunset window applied to all the other individual tax provisions, two years only. Vicious.
.. How well does this procedure stand up to the requirements Senator Ben Sasse specified in his maiden Senate speech on Nov. 3, 2015? In it, Sasse argued that the Senate was failing in its responsibility to fully air and debate the important issues before the county, calling for what he called “a cultural recovery inside the Senate”:
.. Good teachers don’t shut down debate; they try to model Socratic seriousness by putting the best possible construction on arguments, even — and especially — if one doesn’t hold those positions.
.. How could nearly every Republican representative — and all 52 Republican senators — support the tax bill? The best answer may be the most cynical: because it benefits key leaders, their friends, their heirs and their donors.
.. it is difficult to conclude that the motivations of its sponsors are either benevolent or somehow in the best interests of the country. More likely it is hypocrisy and venality mixed up into one awful bill.
when this bill leads to these predicted deficits, Republicans will return to their sidelined deficit rhetoric armed with a sickle, aiming the blade at the social safety net, exacerbating the egregious imbalance of the tax bill’s original sins.
.. That’s the strategy: Appease the rich on the front end; punish the poor on the back. Feed the weak to the strong.
.. No matter how folks try to rationalize this bill, it has nothing to do with a desire to help the middle class or the poor. This is a cash offering to the gods of the Republican donor class. This is a bill meant to benefit Republicans’ benefactors. This is a quid pro quo and the paying of a ransom.
.. Last month at a rally in Missouri, Trump said of the tax bill, “This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing, believe me.” He continued:
.. “This is not good for me. Me, it’s not so — I have some very wealthy friends. Not so happy with me, but that’s O.K. You know, I keep hearing Schumer: ‘This is for the wealthy.’ Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it.”
That, too, was a lie.
.. It also lines the pockets of people like Senator Bob Corker, who mysteriously “coincidentally” switched his vote from a no to a yes on the bill after the language was added.
.. Donald Trump is a plutocrat masquerading as a populist. He is a pirate on a mission to plunder.
.. Republicans in Congress rushed the bill through for other reasons: to combat the fact of their own legislative incompetence, to satisfy their donors and to honor their long-held belief that the rich are America’s true governing force.
.. They are simply a veneer behind which a crime is occurring: the great American tax heist.
In fact, they’re rushing to jam the thing through before Doug Jones can be certified, in a stunning act of hypocrisy from the same people who demanded that Obamacare wait until Scott Brown was seated and held up a Supreme Court seat for a year.
.. the Pundit’s Fallacy: “belief that what a politician needs to do to improve his or her political standing is do what the pundit wants substantively.” I.e., “Obama can win the midterms by endorsing Bowles-Simpson,” which the vast majority of voters never heard of.
.. Today’s Republicans are apparatchiks, who have spent their whole lives inside an intellectual bubble in which cutting taxes on corporations and the rich is always objective #1.
.. Their party used to know that it won elections despite its economic program, not because of it – that the whole game was to win by playing on
- social issues,
- national security, and above all on
- racial antagonism,
then use the win to push fundamentally unpopular economic policies.
.. the GOP may also be engaged in the fallacy of points on the board thinking – I’m taking the phrase from Rahm Emanuel, who believed that Obama could gain electoral capital simply by racking up legislative victories.
The idea is that voters are impressed by your record of wins, or conversely that they’ll turn away if you don’t win enough.