‘Quite a shock’: The priest was a D.C. luminary. Then he had a disturbing fall from grace.

“There was a brashness about him that I always associated with the Wall Street ethos,” the Rev. John Paul Wauck, an Opus Dei priest who knew McCloskey, wrote in an email. “You could say that, as a priest, he maintained an entrepreneurial attitude. For some, this was off-putting; for others, it was, I’d say, invigorating and even entertaining.”

McCloskey harnessed that entrepreneurial spirit to persuade people, mostly men, to become Catholics. In New York in 1997, he converted Kudlow, who was recovering from addiction. Mark Belnick, a former general counsel of Tyco International, who described McCloskey as a “great friend” in a New York magazine article, soon followed. They would be among the first in a long line of high-profile conversions that McCloskey facilitated.

“It’s just like the brokerage business or any business of sales,” McCloskey told the National Catholic Reporter in 2003. “You get a reputation, you deal with one person and they mention you to another person . . . and all of a sudden you have a string of people.”

The conversions came naturally to McCloskey because “he just had an absolute certainty about what he was proposing, and he had no hesi­ta­tion at all about unapologetically offering Catholicism as an option,” said Shaw, his co-author.

.. Although he left Washington at perhaps the height of his fame, McCloskey’s legacy is the ongoing influence of the Catholic Information Center. The center’s board includes Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, which helped shepherd the Supreme Court nominations of Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch. White House counsel Pat Cipollone is a former board member, as is William P. Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush and is now President Trump’s nominee for the same position.

.. The small center — its members and its leaders — continue to have an outsize impact on policy and politics. It is the conservative spiritual and intellectual center that McCloskey had imagined and its influence is felt in all of Washington’s corridors of power.

What’s the Matter With Republicans?

Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” In answering his title’s question, Frank argued that hardworking heartland Americans were being duped by a Republican Party that whipped up culture-war frenzy to disguise its plutocratic aims.

.. Middle-class and working-class Republican voters, he insisted, were voting against their own economic self-interest and getting worse than nothing in return.

.. You don’t have to be a dupe to be a “values voter”

.. believe that some moral questions are more important than where to set the top tax rate.

.. embracing theories about how the working class was actually undertaxed, rallying around tax plans that seemed to threaten middle-class tax increases and promoting an Ayn Randian vision in which heroic entrepreneurs were the only economic actor worth defending.

.. Trump has essentially become the Frankian caricature in full

.. a mistake for liberals to suggest that Trump is just returning to the Bush playbook

.. conservatism doesn’t have to be a mix of Randianism and racial resentment

..  a depressing percentage of American conservatives seem perfectly happy with the bargain that Frank claimed defined their party, with a president who ignores their economic interests and public policy more generally and offers instead the perpetual distraction of Twitter feuds and pseudo-patriotic grandstanding.

.. a segment of religious conservatives, like those gathered at last week’s Values Voters Summit, who cheered rapturously for an empty, strutting nationalism and a president who makes a mockery of the remoralized culture that they claim to seek.

.. Far better to have a president who really sticks it to those overpaid babies in the N.F.L. and makes the liberals howl with outrage — that’s what a real and fighting conservatism should be all about!

.. they’ve decided to become part of the caricature themselves, become exactly what their enemies and critics said they were, become a movement of plutocrats and grievance-mongers with an ever-weaker understanding of the common good.

Comments:

they claim patriotism as their own, try to spiritualize secular laws, and demonize immigrants.

Maybe Trump can supporters can live well on spite, resentment, and the veneer of religion (“Merry Christmas!), but I can’t.

.. Jesse The Conservative

The biggest fear of Democrats, is that Conservative Republicans will gain the upper hand–and actually enact some of their ideas–lower taxes, less regulation, free market health care, school choice, tightened welfare guidelines, and control of our borders and enforcement of immigration laws.

Democrats are scared to death that American will become accustomed to lower taxes, more disposable income, a smaller, less intrusive government, a vibrant economy, better schools, better health care, and the enforcement of the rule of law. Liberals know full well, that as soon as Americans return to their free-market, capitalist roots, Conservative messaging will be powerful and direct. Americans will have no problem understanding where their newly-found prosperity comes from.

.. I’m a Republican. I don’t like big government. I am against almost everything they do in DC night and day, aka, The Swamp. I vote on moral issues first and all the rest second. AND, I want the government to do something to return moral values to the center of American life.

.. DougTerry.us

What’s wrong with this picture? I don’t like government and I want government to do something about it!

.. Does anyone remember that Obama was staging war games in Texas a couple of years ago as part of a master plan to take over the country and stay in office? Never mind.

  • The old south still hates “the north” from the Civil War.
  • The far west hates Washington because it owns and controls so much public land.
  • The Republicans generally hate federal taxes because of the vast power amassed by Washington to tax for the common good. They aren’t really interested in that all that much. They want to whack away at “common” and shift to “good for me”, which is, after all, a basic human instinct.

.. Nothing is going to satisfy the dissatisfied 1/4 to 1/3. NOTHING. They are wedded to their grievances.

.. Victor James

.. So forget Reagan and think Brownback, the Kansas version of Trump who led that state into financial ruin. Brownback only denied financial reality, but Trump has that beat by a mile.

.. Francis W

.. The most depressing thing about the rise of Trump is that a sizable percentage of the population really wants a bullying, inexperienced narcissist to be president and and another substantial percentage didn’t see it as a major problem when they cast their vote last fall.

.. WallyWorld

.. There has been one balanced, pragmatic, Republican President since Dwight Eisenhower, and that’s George H.W. Bush, and the party cast him out for trying to be responsible about the budget deficit. Trump did not create the current Republican party, he merely fully unmasked it. The Republican party of today is full of a lot of very dark and dangerous thinking, governing out of animus and resentment, all from a base of ignorance. It’s bad out there.

Tax Revenge in Kansas

Republicans and unions raise rates higher than in Massachusetts.

 The press accounts gleefully talk of how “moderate Republicans” joined with Democrats to raise taxes to address exploding state deficits. But substitute “Republicans backed by teachers unions” for moderate Republicans, and the real picture comes into focus.
At bottom the Kansas tax vote was as much about unions getting even with the Governor over his education reforms, which included making it easier to fire bad teachers.
.. the 2012 tax cuts that reduced the top rate on personal income taxes to 4.9% from 6.45% and eliminated income tax for small businesses filing as individuals.
.. Mr. Brownback was unlucky in his timing, given the hits to the agricultural and energy industries that count for much of the state economy.
.. Mr. Brownback’s reform mistake was that in eliminating taxes on “pass-through” small businesses, the Governor created a loophole that allowed law firms, accounting agencies, consultants and many others to declare wage income to be business profit and pay little or nothing. This caused lower tax revenues than Mr. Brownback predicted
.. public unions support the state GOP’s liberal wing.
.. The one relevant Kansas lesson is that Republicans in Washington need to be careful how they write any tax reform for “pass-through” businesses. One way to do that is to avoid letting pass-through tax rates get too much lower than rates on wage and salary income

Brownback Tax Cuts Set Off a Revolt by Kansas Republicans

Gov. Sam Brownback’s leadership of Kansas came to be synonymous with a single, unyielding philosophy: Cut taxes, cut the size of government, and the state will thrive.

But this week, Mr. Brownback’s deeply conservative state turned on him and his austere approach. Fed up with gaping budget shortfalls, inadequate education funding and insufficient revenue, the Republican-controlled Legislature capped months of turmoil by overriding the governor’s veto of a bill that would undo some of his tax cuts and raise $1.2 billion over two years.

.. “Email after email after email I get from constituents, say, ‘Please, let’s stop this experiment,’” she said.

.. First elected governor of Kansas seven years ago by a wide margin, Mr. Brownback wasted no time steering the Republican Party on a hard-right turn. In his first term, he helped push out moderate Republicans from the Legislature. Under his leadership, Kansas loosened restrictions on guns, made it harder for women to get abortions and passed some of the strictest voting laws in the country.

Most famously, he instituted the largest income tax cuts in Kansas history, a move that he promised would act “like a shot of adrenaline in the heart of the Kansas economy.”

.. In 2014, Kansans paid $700 million less in state taxes than the previous fiscal year

.. And in March, the Kansas Supreme Court found that the state’s spending on public education was unconstitutionally low

.. Democrats, like Senator Tom Holland, of Baldwin City, cheered the end of “Sam’s march to zero.”

.. [Kris Kobach] .. “Kansas does not have a taxation problem; it has a spending problem,”

The Republican Hypocrisy Hall of Fame

The security clearance of any officer or employee of the federal government who has exercised extreme carelessness in the handling of classified information shall be revoked.” — Senate Bill 3135, co-sponsored last year (to shame Hillary Clinton) by 16 Republican senators: Cory Gardner, John Cornyn, Shelley Moore Capito, Tim Scott, James Risch, Pat Roberts, Dean Heller, Kelly Ayotte, John Barrasso, David Perdue, Johnny Isakson, Thom Tillis, John Thune, David Vitter, Mike Rounds and James Inhofe

“Those who mishandled classified info have had their sec clearances revoked, lost their jobs, faced fines, & even been sent to prison.”

— Reince Priebus, tweet, July 6, 2016

Republicans Keep Repeating the Same Tax Mistake

For budget wonks, the saga of the Kansas budget will be reminiscent of the Reagan years, when supply-side tax cuts resulted in big deficits. The administration had hoped that the tax cuts could be paid for by a combination of faster economic growth unleashed by lower marginal rates, and the infamous “magic asterisk” (in which unidentified spending cuts were promised, details to come later).

.. Reagan was forced to do another tax reform a few years later, hiding the fact that he was increasing taxes by cutting marginal rates but doing away with the generous exemptions that had dramatically lessened what people actually paid. Nonetheless, it took two more tax hikes — under Bush the First, and Clinton — to get the budget into some semblance of structural balance.

The answer is, I think, that a lot of Republicans have a view of how taxes affect labor markets that is simple, intuitive, and wrong.

.. Many of you will recognize that I am describing the famous Laffer curve. And the Laffer curve is absolutely right — for some effective tax rates. It has not, however, turned out to be correct for the tax rates actually prevailing in the United States during the later postwar era. Relatively modest decreases from modest tax levels do not increase economic growth enough to offset the losses from the lower tax rate, at least not in the short or medium term. In fact, they may not increase economic growth at all.

.. People who expected great things from tax cuts were essentially hoping that labor supply was very elastic

.. Yes, as your hourly wage rises, each additional hour of leisure is more costly in terms of other stuff you could buy. On the other hand, it’s also more enjoyable.

.. If you have a yacht and can afford to cruise around the world staying in fine resorts, each hour of leisure lost is more painful.

.. I haven’t even gotten into complex effects, like the fact that many high-income, high-status people like working.

.. most of what happens in the economy will end up being determined by other factors,

  • such as regulation,
  • technological change,
  • demographics,
  • and the individual decisions made by millions of people about what they want to do with their lives.

Sam Brownback Calls on Donald Trump to Mimic His Kansas Tax Plan

Controversial measure hasn’t led to the growth the governor had forecast for the Sunflower state

 Sam Brownback, the Kansas governor whose tax cuts brought him political turmoil, recurring budget holes and sparse evidence of economic success, has a message for President-elect Donald Trump: Do what I did.In 2013, Mr. Brownback set out to create a lean, business-friendly government in his state that other Republicans could replicate. He now faces a $350 million deficit when the Kansas legislature convenes in January and projections of a larger one in 2018. The state’s economy is flat and his party is fractured.

.. About half of pass-through business income in the U.S. is earned by the top 1% of households,

.. Mr. Brownback’s policy gave businesses an incentive to come to Kansas. But it also gave existing businesses a big tax break—or a reason to restructure to avoid paying taxes—without creating any new jobs.

.. In Washington, the Kansas idea—preferential business tax rates—is part of the Republican plan for the biggest federal tax overhaul in 30 years.

.. “They had many more owners of small businesses than they expected, because it doesn’t take much to reorganize yourself.”

.. At least 330,000 entities used the zero rate, more than 70% above projections.

.. The cuts have done little to jump-start Kansas’ economy overall—with growth for this year projected to be flat, compared with 2% GDP growth nationally. Ratings firm Standard & Poor’s twice downgraded Kansas’ bond ratings.

.. Those cuts contributed to dismal approval ratings for Mr. Brownback. He’s the country’s least popular governor, according to a 2016 MorningConsult survey.