Steve Mnuchin: We’re not cutting taxes for rich people. Bernie Sanders: Yes, you are.

The richest 1 percent — households making at least $732,800 — would get an average tax cut of $129,030, the analysis finds. For the typical one-percenter (who earns much more than $732,800), that means 8.5 percent more income after taxes. The richest 0.1 percent, earning at least $3.4 million a year, would get $722,510 back on average, for a 10.2 percent average boost in after-tax income.

By contrast, the middle class (households earning $48,600 to $86,100 a year) would get $660 back, a 1.2 percent income boost. The poorest fifth of Americans, earning $25,000 or less, would only get $60, a 0.5 percent increase.

.. But the next guest on the “This Week” was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who delivered a stinging rebuttal:

Everything he [Mnuchin] said is dead wrong … They are repealing the Estate Tax. The Estate tax only applies to the top two tenths of one percent — millionaires and billionaires, like the Walton family of Wal Mart, like the Koch Brothers, like the Trump family. $269 billion in tax breaks for the top two tenths of one percent over the next ten years. And this is not a tax break for the rich? Well, I don’t know what a tax break for the rich is.

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.

The False Promises in President Trump’s Tax Plan

The president’s claim also defies history. Wages have long stagnated, despite tax cuts in the 1980s and 2000s, while profits, shareholder returns and executive pay have soared. Profits, whether lifted by favorable economic conditions, by tax cuts or by both, have not translated into employee raises and have instead been used for other purposes.

One is to buy back stock, which lifts share prices and, by extension, executive compensation.

.. Following a huge one-off corporate tax cut in 2004, big piles of corporate cash were also used to pay dividends to shareholders, settle legal issues and finance severance packages for layoffs.

.. Mr. Trump has proposed cutting the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, a point he emphasized on Wednesday despite warnings from his economic advisers that a cut that sizable would cause the deficit to explode.
.. he analysis showed that the proposed Trump tax cuts would lift after-tax income for the
  • top 1 percent of taxpayers by at least 11.5 percent (or an average annual tax cut of $175,000), compared with a barely perceptible
  • 1.3 percent for taxpayers in the middle (or $760 in average tax savings).

.. The question is how House Republicans will deal with those potential deficits. Many of them have built their reputations as fiscal hawks.

Black people aren’t keeping white Americans out of college. Rich people are.

What better time to change the conversation and re-energize the base? And what better way than by raising the lightning rod that is affirmative action?

.. Justice Department officials attempted to play down the initiative after the story broke, stating that they planned to investigate a single complaint involving Asian American applicants, not whites. But it barely mattered. The message was sent.

.. Affirmative action is a consistent hobbyhorse on the right because it combines real anxieties with compelling falsehoods.
.. At 38 top colleges in the United States, more students come from the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent. Really leveling the admissions playing field, assuming the Trump administration actually cares about doing so, would involve much broader efforts to redistribute wealth and power. A focus on fringe campaigns against affirmative action suggests it does not.
.. Addressing inequalities in K-12 education, for instance, could help at-risk students of all races increase their chances of attending a top college
.. Pressing universities to drop legacy preferences, following the example of other elite schools such as the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, could free up spots for those without that built-in advantage. Trump’s own wealthy-parent-sponsored education at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by the subsequent admission of three of his four adult children, makes that particular initiative seem unlikely.
.. the Trump Justice Department’s proposed attack on affirmative action is a microcosm of how the president won the 2016 election and continues to maintain a base of support.
First, Trump taps into a mainstream concern, one tied to how America’s economic system is changing and how some individuals are left at the margin:
  • Employment?
  • Immigration?
  • College?
  • Take your pick.
Then, instead of addressing the issue in a way that embraces both its complexity and well-established research, officials opt for simplistic talking points known to inflame an already agitated base: Immigrants are sneaking into the country and stealing your jobs! Minorities are pushing you out of college!

.. The Trump administration assumes that picking race-focused fights is the most successful way to distract from its failures and to pander to a grievance-inspired base. The level of support for this latest attempt may prove it right.