Republicans, Trapped by Their Flimflam

Last week the Trump administration and its congressional allies working on tax reform achieved something remarkable. They released a tax plan — or, actually, a vague sketch of a plan — that manages both to add trillions to the deficit and to raise taxes on a large fraction of the population.

.. The road to this tax-cut turkey began in 2010, when Paul Ryan — now speaker of the House — unveiled the first of a series of much-hyped budget plans, all purporting to offer a blueprint for eliminating the U.S. budget deficit.

In fact, they did no such thing. They proposed major tax cuts — primarily benefiting the rich, of course — then simply asserted that no revenue would be lost, because reduced tax rates would be offset by closing loopholes and eliminating deductions. Which loopholes and deductions? Ryan didn’t say.

.. In other words, it was all a con.

.. Professional “centrists,” whose whole identity is bound up with pretending that there is equivalence between the two parties, desperately wanted a Serious, Honest Conservative to praise. So did much of the news media. So they slotted Ryan into that role, never mind the actual content of his policies.

.. After all, their supposed concern about federal debt was always just a pose, applying only when a Democrat was president.

.. But after all those years of pretending to be deficit hawks, they feel the need to be seen doing something to offset their high-income tax cuts, to close some loophole somewhere.

.. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, their plan would give huge tax cuts to the top 1 percent, who would receive 79.7 percent of the benefits. But eliminating deductions would make many Americans, especially in the upper reaches of the middle class, directly worse off:
Almost 60 percent of households between the 80th and 90th percentiles of the income distribution would face tax increases.
.. How are the tax plan’s advocates responding to their very big, very bad problem? Partly with evasiveness: You can’t evaluate our plan yet, declared Mick Mulvaney,
.. And partly with outright, ludicrous lies: “Wealthy Americans are not getting a tax cut,” declared Gary Cohn
.. In broad outlines, the tax story is a lot like health care. In both cases, Republicans have spent years getting away with big promises backed by lies. Now, with real policy to be made, the lies won’t work anymore.

Comments

I live in a high-tax state and county, and my family earns enough income that I am fairly sure we would pay more federal tax under this plan. I would be fine with that if it were used to benefit those who have less than us. Pay teachers more, expand healthcare, create a bunch of jobs in places with few, whatever. I would pay a lot more to make our country a better place for everyone. Unfortunately, this plan would take those extra dollars and obscenely direct them to people who already have so much they could never spend it all. It’s unconscionable and shameful. Which is what we sadly have come to expect from the Republican party.

 

.. The basis of the Republican position on health care and taxes is “Trust me”. Well, based on experience we can’t and shouldn’t.

Given we have a “businessman” in the White House, if any group of executives proposed programs in the same vein as the Republicans have proposed healthcare and tax reform they would be fired. No board of Directors would accept business plans that are based on fictitious economic theory, increase debt to incalculable levels and hurt their core customers (constituents) where is really counts, in their pocketbooks

Uber Document Shows Ex-Google Engineer Possessed Secret Files

Due-diligence report revealed Anthony Levandowski had Google files on its self-driving-car project, including 50,000 emails

.. Waymo said the report shows Mr. Levandowski stole Google files, accessed them after leaving the company and tried to destroy the evidence. “Knowing all of this, Uber paid $680 million for Mr. Levandowski’s company, protected him from legal action, and installed him as the head of their self-driving-vehicle program,”
.. Investigators said in the report that, during one interview, they caught Mr. Levandowski trying to empty the trash bin on his computer. And another former Google employee searched the internet for instructions to secretly delete files from his computer before interviews with investigators, according to the report.

Zuckerberg’s Preposterous Defense of Facebook

Are you bothered by fake news, systematic misinformation campaigns and Facebook “dark posts” — micro-targeted ads not visible to the public — aimed at African-Americans to discourage them from voting? You must be one of those people “upset about ideas” you disagree with.

Are you troubled when agents of a foreign power pose online as American Muslims and post incendiary content that right-wing commentators can cite as evidence that all American Muslims are sympathizers of terrorist groups like the Islamic State? Sounds like you can’t handle a healthy debate.

Does it bother you that Russian actors bought advertisements aimed at swing states to sow political discord during the 2016 presidential campaign, and that it took eight months after the election to uncover any of this? Well, the marketplace of ideas isn’t for everyone.

.. bias in the digital sphere is structurally different from that in mass media, and a lot more complicated than what programmers believe.

.. what matters most is not the political beliefs of the employees but the structures, algorithms and incentives they set up, as well as what oversight, if any, they employ to guard against deception, misinformation and illegitimate meddling.

.. by design, business model and algorithm, Facebook has made it easy for it to be weaponized to spread misinformation and fraudulent content.

.. this business model is also lucrative, especially during elections. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, called the 2016 election “a big deal in terms of ad spend” for the company

.. Facebook responds to such pressure as much of the traditional media do: by caving and hiding behind flimsy “there are two sides to everything” arguments.

.. Even the conservative pundit and wild-eyed conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck, of all people, has expressed befuddlement at the charge that Facebook censored conservative content.

.. He has correctly pointed out that Facebook had been a boon for right-wing groups, especially of the alt-right and Breitbart variety

The Trump Fog Machine

The Trump Fog Machine erased all his Tweets supporting the other guy in Alabama. No need for that. We do it for him, by following the fresh distractions. Trump is not Teflon. Things do stick to him. But he survives by saying or doing something so outrageous, so regularly, that we forget the last atrocity, and turn on one another.

.. So, this week his cabinet official charged with taking away health care from the poor and cutting the budget for cancer research is using our money to fly private planes at his pleasure. The multimillionaire treasury secretary wanted the same perk for his honeymoon.

.. He’s already tweeted the word “loser” 234 times, “incompetent” 92 times and “pathetic” 72 times. Call them projection tweets, showing the man for what he truly is.

..  He’s already lied about whether his tax plan will benefit the rich and his own family. It will, by eliminating the estate tax, and ensuring that the top 1 percent will get nearly 50 percent of the windfall.