Thursday, April 27, 2017

Are There Democrats Who Want To Help Trump And Ryan Rob From The Needy And Give To The Greedy? You Bet There Are!


Yesterday, after reading the Trump Regime's blueprint for for what they're calling "tax reform," Caifornia Congressman Ro Khanna issued a statement to his constituents explaining that "Trump’s plan takes money out of the pockets of working families to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest individuals and corporations. Any tax reform plan must focus on closing loopholes that allow companies to avoid paying taxes. This one does the opposite. The United States could collect billions of dollars in new revenue and discourage companies from going offshore. Tax reform proposals must also recognize how to keep companies and jobs in the U.S. I encourage my congressional colleagues to engage in a thoughtful debate on how to change tax laws to incentivize corporations to create jobs here at home.” This morning's NY Times was even more direct: "a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country's future."

Neil Irwin, writing in last night's NY Times, took a look at who the losers and who the winners are in the Trump Regime's tax plan. The winners:
Businesses with high tax rates. The plan would cut the 35 percent corporate income tax to 15 percent. While few businesses pay the full 35 percent rate, those that pay something close to it are in line for a huge tax cut.

High-income earners. The plan would reduce the top rate on individual income tax-- now 39.6 percent for income over around $470,000 for a married couple-- to 35 percent. But that’s only part of the gain for high-income earners. It also would eliminate a 3.8 percent tax, used to help fund Obamacare, that applies to investment income over $250,000 for a couple.

People with creative accountants. The 15 percent business tax rate could open a huge loophole for people to receive business income through a limited liability company or other pass-through entity instead of as wages. Depending on how the law is drafted, that could enable some people to pay that low 15 percent rate on their earnings instead of an individual income rate up to 35 percent. People who already receive their income through investment vehicles wouldn’t have to change anything for a windfall.

Multimillionaires who want to pass money to their heirs tax-free. The plan would eliminate the estate tax, which currently applies to individuals with estates of $5.5 million or couples with estates worth $11 million.

People who still fill out their tax returns by hand. Administration officials said the plan would simplify paying taxes, particularly emphasizing plans to eliminate the alternative minimum tax. The A.M.T. can definitely be annoying, and costly, but if you use an online tax preparation service, the software does most of the work.

Retailers and other companies that feared a “border adjustment tax.” The Trump administration did not embrace House Republicans’ big strategy to pay for the tax cut, which was strongly opposed by the retail industry and others that thought they would be losers.

Donald J. Trump. It is striking how many of the categories listed above affect the president and his family. He is a high-income earner. He receives income from 564 business entities, according to his financial disclosure form, and could take advantage of the low rate on “pass-through” companies. According to his leaked 2005 tax return, he paid an extra $31 million because of the alternative minimum tax that he seeks to eliminate. And his heirs could eventually enjoy his enormous assets tax-free.
And the losers... most everyone else, especially upper-middle-income people in blue states like California and New York since the plan would eliminate the federal tax deduction for state and local income tax.

Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) had a similar message for her constituents after she read the blueprint yesterday. "While our broken tax code badly needs reform, today’s White House proposal misses the mark by slashing rates for the biggest corporations and creating even more ways for the wealthiest Americans to avoid paying their fair share. This proposal would be a corporate giveaway, plain and simple, slashing rates for the wealthiest while preserving unfair loopholes and lucrative deductions written by lobbyists that allow huge corporations like Exxon Mobil to pay zero in federal taxes and instead claim millions in rebates. I continue to advocate for an honest, bipartisan discussion on tax reform that prioritizes tax relief for working families and small businesses in order to address our nation’s income inequality crisis. But I will not support any plan that exacerbates income inequality by giving away even more to the wealthiest 1% and the biggest corporations already favored by our tax code, while asking working Americans to bear the brunt of draconian budget cuts in the name of deficit reduction. I am deeply concerned by reports these corporate giveaways may not even be paid for, and I will insist that Congressional Republicans walk the walk on responsible deficit reduction in any tax plan."

All of the Democrats I've been hearing from since yesterday have been on the same page as Khanna and Shea-Porter. But there was a lot of anger from people watching MSNBC yesterday who kept seeing a collection of clueless stooges-- their daytime anchors-- referring to the Estate Tax in Republican-talk as a "death tax," exactly what you would expect from Fox News. But why MSNBC?

Gene Sperling, who was was Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy under both Obama and Clinton, penned a piece for The Atlantic this week that should be mandatory reading for all MSNBC anchors, Don't Cut the Estate Tax-- Raise It.
Repealing the estate tax—a tax on assets transferred from a deceased individual to their heirs—has become a staple cause among conservative Republicans. Eleven Republican candidates explicitly called for its elimination during the 2016 election. By calling it a “death tax,” and implying that it would hurt tens of millions of ordinary families, and force the sale of long-held family farms and family businesses, Republicans have successfully cast the estate tax as a ubiquitous and pernicious burden. That’s helped them win the public-relations battle over it so far.

The problem is that the main talking points that conservatives rely on when making this case are untrue. After years of looking, estate-tax repealers have not been able to come forward with even a handful of farms that, due to the estate tax, were forcibly sold off. And the notion that the estate tax somehow inhibits middle-class Americans from passing down savings to their heirs now, more than ever, falls somewhere between a hoax and a joke: The estate tax today kicks in at about $5.5 million for an individual, or $11 million for a couple. That means that there is a zero percent estate tax for every family estate under $11 million. A married couple that managed to save and leave $10.9 million to their children would not pay a single penny.

Even putting aside the claims used to galvanize support for cutting the estate tax, the Trump administration would be wise to consider that this might not be the time to go through with an expensive tax cut that only benefits a handful of America’s wealthiest families. This tax cut would coincide with the growing awareness of wealth inequality in the United States, where the top one-tenth of 1 percent have as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This inequality has only become more skewed in recent years. After substantial declines in wealth inequality from 1937 to 1977, the share of wealth going to the richest 0.1 percent has nearly tripled, from 8 percent in 1980 to 22 percent in 2012—the highest it’s been since 1917. This may not be the best political or economic environment to propose a tax cut that over 10 years gives $269 billion to only 5,000 of the wealthiest inheritors each year.

The facts do not even indicate that the 5,000 estates that pay some estate tax (out of 2.7 million deaths each year) are significantly burdened by it. While this mysteriously remains a top priority from some leading farm and small-business lobbies, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that only 50 farms or closely-held family businesses in the U.S. will pay any estate taxes in 2017-- working out to an effective tax rate of less than 6 percent on each of those estates. And while the 40 percent estate-tax rate might seem high to some, it’s only applied to the amount passed down beyond the $11 million per couple, leaving the effective rate much lower. Consider that the Tax Policy Center estimates that the average effective tax rate for estates meeting the tax threshold is 17 percent, and that even the rare $20 million estate that took advantage of no deductions, exemptions, or loopholes would not pay more than an effective rate of 18 percent. If the estate tax is repealed, large amounts of accumulated wealth would go untaxed forever. As Chye-Ching Huang and Chloe Cho of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities have written, when it comes to the very wealthiest families in the United States, “unrealized capital gains account for a significant proportion of the assets held by estates.” Studies have shown that 55 percent of the value of estates worth over $100 million are never-taxed gains.

There is also is evidence that repealing the estate tax will be a tougher sell as more Americans come to understand how the estate tax really works. A prominent study published in the American Economic Review found that providing Americans with the facts about who actually pays such taxes raises support for increasing it. When the study’s authors told participants the threshold for the tax’s application, the number of Americans currently wealthy enough to have to pay it, and how unlikely they were to ever have to worry about it, support for a higher estate tax more than doubled. This is noteworthy since economists, including University of Michigan’s Joel Slemrod, have found that public opposition to the estate tax can be partially explained by misconceptions about who is subject to it.

The current case for repeal will be weaker if progressives come out in support of an estate tax that leaves the wealth of over 99 percent of Americans untouched and affects only the handful who want to leave eight-figure estates to their heirs. In 2008, as I finished a taping for a cable-TV show, a cameraman told me he agreed with everything I had said, except for my position on the estate tax. He dreamed of leaving his money to his children and didn’t want it to be taxed. I asked whether he would support a proposal that would allow him and his wife to leave up to $7 million to their children without paying any tax, and only tax people on the amount they left that was more than that. He didn’t hesitate to say he would.

Even if Trump and his team do not share my feelings about the unfairness of cutting the estate tax, pushing for this change could lose the support of voters who recognize that it is being prioritized over health-care protections or other types of tax cuts. For the $269 billion that it would cost the U.S. Treasury to give multimillion-dollar tax breaks to the 5,000 wealthiest estates each year, the administration could give nearly 27 million hardworking families a tax cut of $10,000 over the next decade. How could any member of Congress possibly argue that there was no choice but to cut Medicaid for millions of families, or say that it was impossible to afford the protections for pre-existing conditions or benefits like maternity care available under the Affordable Health Care Act, when they could afford nearly a quarter-of-a-trillion dollars to enhance the wealth of the already wealthiest Americans? On the other hand, if, as Hillary Clinton proposed, the president returned the estate tax back to the 2009 threshold of $7 million a couple-- with a 45 percent rate on anything over that threshold-- he would have an additional $160 billion in revenue to fund his other priorities without intruding on the aspirations of 99.5 percent of Americans to leave a nest egg to their children. Indeed, a September 2016 Bloomberg poll of high-income voters even found that 53 percent supported Clinton’s plan to broaden the estate tax to apply to individual estates worth more than $3.5 million.

Cutting the estate tax would do little to dampen accusations that Trump and his immensely wealthy cabinet are looking out more for the economic interests of their families and their financial peers than for typical working families. The likes of Senators Ted Kennedy and Jay Rockefeller showed that coming from a wealthy family doesn’t mean someone can’t be a champion for working America. But they proved that by fighting for a more progressive tax system that helped fund investments in workers, health care, and poor children. In Trump’s case, Americans would see him cutting investments for urban and rural America and threatening Medicaid, while (if he is as wealthy as he says he is) changing the tax code to save his family $4 billion, not to mention the savings for the rest of his cabinet.

Finally, there is the question of whether passing on huge amounts of untaxed wealth from generation to generation is consistent with long-held American values. President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1906, proposed a progressive tax on “all lifetime gifts and death-time bequests” for the direct purpose of limiting the amount of wealth that one person could transfer to another, thereby breaking up large concentrations of wealth. Three decades later, FDR echoed, “inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals of the generation which established our government.” In 2001, Warren Buffett compared repealing the estate tax to picking the 2020 Olympic team from the first-born children of the 2000 team. Bill Gates Sr. has been one of the most eloquent advocates for the estate tax, recognizing that even those like his son, who’s often the richest person in the world, owe their success in some part to the investment and hard work of generations of Americans before them and thus have a moral obligation to pay forward a return to invest in the success of current and future generations.

In past years, the worst of the corrupt conservative Democrats have voted with the Republicans to repeal the estate tax. Example, on April 16, 2015, Kevin Brady brought up a typical reactionary bill, H.R.1105-- the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015. It passed the House 240-179. 3 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats against it-- Walter Jones (R-NC), Scott Rigell (R-VA) and David Jolly (R-FL)-- but they passed 7 really slimy right-wing Democrats going in the other direction. Happily one, Brad Ashford, an "ex"-Republican from Omaha was quickly defeated after one ugly term. But the other six are still in Congress, still pretending to be Democrats inside the Big Tent while sneaking out the back door and voting with the GOP virtually all the time. This is congressional slime:
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
How can we expect congressional Republicans to watch out for the interests of ordinary American working families if we can't even guarantee that so-called Democrats will endeavor to do so?

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Obama Harvests His Presidency


 The Great House on billionaire Richard Branson's private Caribbean island prior to a devastating 2011 fire (source). It has since been rebuilt (click for tour). Cost to rent: $60,000 per night. Branson recently hosted the Obama family there for a post-presidential getaway.

by Gaius Publius

My words fly up, my deeds remain below.
Words without deeds never to heaven go.

    —Barack, Prince of Denmark, Act III, Scene 3

This is a story I didn't want to produce, but fully expected to. For years I've been writing about Barack Obama and his legacy, the one he wants to have and the one he actually has. In 2013 I listed the four economic items Obama wanted to achieve to complete what he considered his legacy list before his presidency ended:
Privatized “Medicare expansion” (the ACA). Benefits cuts for SS and Medicare. Keystone [pipeline built]. TPP [passed]. If Obama gets these four, he’s a happy man, and in his mind he goes out in glory.
He succeeded on the first; tried and tried and tried on the second; bailed on the third only when forced to by popular opposition; and pulled out all the stops, every last one of them, to pass the fourth in the last months of his last year, even as his chosen Democratic successor, Hillary Clinton, under pressure in the primary, finally came out as opposed. (Obama's chosen DNC chair, Tom Perez, was never opposed, nor was anyone else close to his administration, though Perez doesn't talk about that much these days.)

If it weren't for Tea Party and Freedom Caucus Republicans, he'd have been three for four — Social Security "reform" and TPP would have passed. Obama didn't lose for lack of trying.

Obama's real legacy also includes zero bankers jailed for fraud despite the rampant criminal behavior of Wall Street in the run-up to the 2008 economic devastation. As he told a group of Wall Street CEOs in 2009, "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." He was right, and proved an effective shield.

For all of those efforts, those that succeeded (passing ACA, protecting Wall Street CEOs) and those that failed (cuts to SS and Medicare, TPP, Keystone), he fully expected to be granted a "Bill Clinton future" — the big money, the big foundation, the international love and acclaim.

You can read about his fundraising for the foundation here. It's quite a story in its own right. You can hear the international acclaim grow stronger by the day, thanks to the serendipitous contrast with his successor, Donald Trump. And now the money is starting to flow.

"Bill Clinton Money" 

Fresh from his vacation on privately-owned Necker Island with billionaire Richard Branson, Obama has just inked his first lucrative speaking deal. The fee: $400,000. The venue: Wall Street.

Mark Hensch at The Hill:
Obama to net $400K for Wall Street speech: report

Former President Obama has agreed to speak at a Wall Street conference for $400,000, according to a new report.

Obama will appear at Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s healthcare conference in September, Fox Business Network first reported Monday.

Fox Business said it confirmed Obama’s appearance with senior members at Cantor, a financial services firm.

Obama will serve as the keynote speaker for one day at the company's event, sources there told Fox Business.
The following is from the underlying Fox Business report by Charlie Gasparino and Brian Schwartz, who broke the story. Note the criticism that looks to us like praise (my emphasis):
When he was president he called them “fat cats,” but now he’s likely thanking them for a huge payday.

Former President Barack Obama, less than 100 days out of office, has agreed to speak at a Wall Street conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald LP, senior people at the firm confirm to FOX Business. His speaking fee will be $400,000, which is nearly twice as much as Hillary Clinton, his secretary of state, and the 2016 Democratic Party candidate, charged private businesses for such events. [...]

News of Obama’s speaking deal with Cantor, which had yet to be reported, comes as the former president made on Monday his first public comments since leaving office after an extended vacation. In those comments to college students at the University of Chicago, the president spoke broadly about the need for public service and studiously avoided any mention of the current president, Republican Donald Trump, or how he intends to make a living now that he’s a private citizen.

It’s also likely to be a source of criticism against the former president given Obama’s record of attacks against Wall Street bankers for making huge salaries while average Americans were suffering from the ravages of the 2008 financial crisis. Obama, a progressive Democrat, spoke frequently about Wall Street greed during his eight years as president, and now he’s accepting a speaking fee from the industry he singled out as the main culprit of the banking collapse.
I'll return to the Fox piece in a moment. First, about the timing, compare Obama's first post-presidential days to Bill Clinton's immediate post-presidential trajectory (my emphasis):
On December 21, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a bill called the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. This law ensured that derivatives could not be regulated, setting the stage for the financial crisis.

Just two months later, on February 5, 2001, Clinton received  $125,000 from Morgan Stanley, in the form of a payment for a speech Clinton gave for the company in New York City.  A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, also in New York.  It turns out, Bill Clinton could make a lot of money, for not very much work.
Notice that just like Clinton was fresh off his late December win for Wall Street deregulation, Obama is fresh off his highly focused effort to pass TPP in the final days of his own presidency. Unlike Clinton, who won, Obama ultimately failed, but Obama's win would have been much more monumental than Clinton's. Commodities futures deregulation enriched just one industry, though it did help wreck the whole economy. TPP was truly "NAFTA on steroids," a multi-industry monopoly protection scheme, and nearly everyone in America with real money would have benefited, not just the bankers.

By the way, if you compare Obama's speaking fee with Clinton's early fees, you may notice the price has gone up. (Clinton's later fees grew in line with those prices. His 2015 fee was $500,000 per speech.) A good example of asset inflation — and that's not sarcasm. Everything the rich are buying these days is rocketing up in price. See "Art and real estate are the new gold, says Blackrock CEO."

Word and Deeds

I quoted Gasparino and Schwartz's piece for a reason. In it you can see the double benefit Obama gets — Wall Street reward money, plus undeserved credit for opposing Wall Street while in office.

Fox, in hitting him for hypocrisy — "given Obama’s record of attacks against Wall Street bankers for making huge salaries while average Americans were suffering from the ravages of the 2008 financial crisis" — actually praises him as an kind of "anti-Wall Street warrior" during his presidency, something (a) he certainly was not, but (b) something he desperately wants to be thought to have been.

After all, you can't retire as a "champion of the people" if you don't at least appear to champion the people. And you can't be internationally loved in your "retirement" years if the world sees you as a quid-pro-quo greed head. Managing how the world sees him will be crucial to Obama's success going forward.

And typical of Obama, the issue is words versus deeds. That "record of attacks" was entirely verbal. Obama's deeds were the opposite of attacks; they were entirely supportive. Which is entirely to be expected given the level of funding Wall Street poured into making and keeping him president in the first place:
Wall Street Responsible For One-Third Of Obama's Campaign Funds

One-third of the Obama re-election campaign's record-breaking second-quarter fundraising came from sources associated with the financial sector, the Washington Post reports.

That percentage is up from the 20% of donations that came from Wall Street donors in 2008, and contradicts reports that a growing Wall Street animosity towards the Obama administration may jeopardize his re-election bid.
And please don't forget that Obama's real legacy, the one involving actual deeds, includes what David Dayen called "the greatest disintegration of black wealth in recent memory." Of that I wrote this:
Occasionally, when there's justice in the world, one is not just branded by the manicured and curated image one tries to project. One is branded instead by what one actually does in the sight of others.

Will Obama see more justice than the millions whose homelessness he caused? I guess that part of the story is still being written.
One can hope. It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

You Get What You Pay For

Bottom line — Wall Street invested millions in Barack Obama's career in 2008 and 2012. That investment paid off over the eight years of his presidency to the tune of billions upon billions in profit and millions upon millions per year in executive compensation and bonuses.

It would not be at all surprising if Wall Street bankers were now saying "thank you" by giving him money he can keep. In fact, it would be entirely surprising if they weren't.

UPDATE: I discussed this issue and post on "The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen," WNHN-FM, progressive radio on New Hampshire. You can listen here; start at 30:00 (or earlier to listen to Garth Brooks sing "It Pays Big Money").


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The Extremists In The Freedom Caucus Have A Secret Weapon Undermining Healthcare: Tom MacArthur (R-NJ)


A headline at Axios yesterday: GOP health care plan has momentum. This is the new plan where, aside from kicking 24 million people off health insurance, the Republicans gut protections for the sick (by eliminating protections for people with pre-existing conditions)-- and all to allow a tax cut for the super-rich. The far right extremists at the Freedom Caucus think it does enough damage to have earned their support. Whats known as the Meadows-MacArthur amendment allows states to waive a set of "essential health benefits" and a ban on charging sick people higher premiums in limited circumstances and if the state has established a high-risk pool. Radical anti-health care extremists like Dave Brat (R-VA), Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) are urging other extremists to vote for it-- and that may come as soon as Friday.

The bill's impacts will be so bad for consumers that congressional Republicans exempted themselves and their staffers from the worst of the provisions, something that didn't go unnoticed by Democrats. Madison-based Democrat Mark Pocan called then right out on it: "House Republicans showed their hand when they exempted themselves from their own plan. If this latest version of Trumpcare isn’t good enough for Members of Congress, it’s not good enough for the American people. The reason Trumpcare failed, was that the American people took a long hard look at what the President and Speaker Ryan put on the table and flatly rejected it. Now, House Republicans are trying to introduce a worse version of Trumpcare that will likely cause more people to lose health insurance, make it harder for people with preexisting conditions to get coverage, and leaves people at the mercy of insurance companies."

Meanwhile the Regime has some healthcare sabotage up its sleeve-- just in case. Mick Mulvaney spoke with Nancy Pelosi Tuesday night and threatened to cut off crucial ObamaCare payments as soon as next month.
Canceling the payments to insurers, known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), would cause chaos in the insurance market. The payments are the subject of ongoing litigation, with a judge ruling them unconstitutional last year because Congress had not appropriated the money.

"Mulvaney indicated that while the Trump administration had continued the CSR payments, they had not yet decided whether they would make the May payment," the aide said. "Mulvaney made clear that, absent Congressional action, the judge's order would stand and the administration would cease making payments."

Pelosi is pushing for the payments to be funded in the spending bill Congress is negotiating this week.

If Mulvaney follows through on his comments, then that would raise the pressure on Congress to appropriate the payments so that they are not canceled, as the administration is threatening.

Top congressional Republicans, though, are resisting funding ObamaCare payments in the spending bill, leading to a standoff.
That could be awkward for mainstreamish conservatives in swingy districts. Politico and the rest of the Beltway media refers to them as "moderates," which they're not, but Politico's Kyle Cheney and Rachel Bade were correct in pointing out that much of this resuscitation mess is the fault of fake-moderate Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). "MacArthur," they wrote, "has singlehandedly kept the embers of the failed repeal-and-replace effort burning, huddling with the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus to try to forge a deal. The negotiations have allowed the White House and GOP congressional leaders to insist that despite their embarrassing failure to pass health care legislation last month, they're still making progress. But the MacArthur-as-Republican health care savior narrative has bothered some GOP moderates, who say the New Jersey lawmaker is flying solo in negotiations with the Freedom Caucus. Though he's one of three co-chairs of the Tuesday Group-- a 50-member bloc of House Republican moderates-- MacArthur has negotiated without the group's blessing in his quest to keep the health care talks alive, other Tuesday Group members say."

Some in the group “are pretty hot about this thing right now,” said a Tuesday Group member. “MacArthur is kind of on his own.”

MacArthur acknowledged as much in an interview with The Hill, suggesting his effort to find compromise was not on behalf of the Tuesday Group.

As a result, it's not clear that any deal MacArthur strikes can actually deliver the votes of moderates that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan need to get their legislation, dubbed the American Health Care Act, across the finish line. That's a dangerous dynamic that could sink the revived health care discussion just as Freedom Caucus members are warming to the bill.

So far, House moderates have remained quiet about reports of progress between MacArthur and the Freedom Caucus, chaired by North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows. The two were seen huddling daily in the back of the House chamber before lawmakers departed for their two-week Easter recess. But other Tuesday Group members have been wary of working with the Freedom Caucus, which came under fire from Trump and mainstream Republicans last month for rejecting the first iteration of the GOP health care plan.

At the time, Rep. Chris Collins, a Tuesday Group member and Trump ally, accused the Freedom Caucus of proposing negotiations simply to deflect blame for scuttling the first bill.

“The Tuesday Group will never meet with the Freedom Caucus. Capital N-E-V-E-R,” Collins said in late March.

As reports of a deal surfaced during the recess, moderates remained silent. Even MacArthur's Tuesday Group co-chairs-- Reps. Charlie Dent and Elise Stefanik of New York-- said they weren’t yet sold on the negotiations.

...[I]t's unclear whether MacArthur's efforts have moved any moderates closer to "yes" on the stalled health care bill. Politico reached out to the offices of more than two dozen moderate Republicans who had either signaled their opposition to the AHCA or hadn’t yet taken a position. Though many declined to respond, none said they had been swayed by the negotiations.

"The amendment doesn't address the things that I had concerns about-- the things I think are detrimental to the people I represent," said Rep. Dan Donovan, a centrist, who added that he learned about the proposal when details leaked to the press Friday.

...At the heart of the negotiations is a trade-off. Conservatives are seeking a proposal that would let states opt out of Obamacare's regulatory framework, including provisions intended to keep costs down for people with pre-existing conditions. In exchange, MacArthur negotiated to reinstate Obamacare's minimum coverage requirements and to require that any state choosing to opt out of the Obamacare regulations must set up a high-risk pool intended to help cover sick patients whose premiums might surge.

Freedom Caucus sources indicated these changes could win over at least some of their holdouts, putting the AHCA tantalizingly close to passage. House leaders are hopeful they can nudge just enough moderates to back the bill to send it to the Senate. With no Democrats expected to support the bill, Republicans must secure support from 216 members of the 238-member caucus to pass it.

Since talks collapsed last month, House leaders and President Donald Trump have indicated they were heartened by continued negotiations among lawmakers. Vice President Mike Pence and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney continued shuttling to and from Capitol Hill in search of votes. Then, as Trump's 100-day mark in office approached, the White House began indicated it expected a vote on an amended health care package as soon as this week.

The Meadows-MacArthur talks were at the heart of it.

For MacArthur, the impromptu talks aren't just risky for the Republican agenda, they could imperil his own political future. He represents one of a few dozen swing districts. Though his district narrowly voted for Trump in November, it backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. MacArthur's role in salvaging a health care plan that energized protesters on the left and drew poor marks across the political spectrum has only enhanced the target on his back for Democrats.

MacArthur's efforts have also put him on the president’s radar. Trump personally thanked MacArthur, a former insurance executive, the day before leaders pulled the legislation for lack of support.

But during the presidential campaign, MacArthur, 56, kept his distance from Trump, endorsing the GOP standard-bearer after his primary rivals quit the race. MacArthur survived his reelection campaign despite relentless efforts by Democrats to tie him to Trump.

In recent weeks, conservative and liberal activists squeezed MacArthur with attack ads in his district for his role in AHCA talks. But the conservative Club for Growth may help provide him some cover.

Keep in mind that the DCCC has already signaled that they will not be trying to unseat either Meadows or MacArthur in 2018. Yesterday the AP reported that Charlie Dent doesn't like what he's seeing of the MacArthur/Meadows "compromise," since it ignores his concerns that TrumpCare will "cut too deeply into the Medicaid program for the poor and leave many people unable to afford coverage."

Trump and the GOP's threats against the Affordable Care Act have created the kind of uncertainty for the insurance market that is forcing premiums up for millions of Americans.
Many experts have already warned that if Trump refuses to enforce the Affordable Care Act’s, or ACA’s, individual mandate or fund subsidies for low-income enrollees, consumers will see premiums skyrocket. But even without taking direct action, the Trump administration is still pushing insurers to raise premiums. Trump’s rhetoric creates a climate of uncertainty for health insurers that puts upward pressure on rates and discourages them from future participation in the exchanges.

We expect this generalized market uncertainty will itself raise premiums for 2018. If insurers raise rates by an additional 8.5 to 17 percent to account for a 25 to 50 percent risk that the Administration will undermine ACA subsidies and mandate enforcement, the average annual premium would rise by an extra $480 to $960 in 2018. While ACA subsidies will protect most enrollees from these uncertainty rate hikes, millions will see their premiums rise and taxpayers will foot the bill for increased subsidy costs.

The administration has already taken steps that will hurt the market and increase premiums, including halting outreach efforts at the end of the 2017 open enrollment period and drastically shortening the enrollment period for next year. The administration can prevent even larger premium hikes, but, given the widespread uncertainty that the president and congressional Republicans have already created, they need to act now. Trump and Congress must take concrete steps in the coming weeks to make clear that subsidy payments will be made on a permanent basis, that the individual mandate will be fully enforced, that the administration will conduct similar outreach and operational efforts as in past years to drive enrollment, and that they will stop their damaging efforts to repeal the ACA.

...Trump is already attempting to use millions of Americans’ health insurance as a bargaining chip for his own political gain. In an effort to force Democrats to negotiate with him on repealing the ACA, Trump threatened to hold hostage subsidies for low-income enrollees.

...A study by The Commonwealth Fund suggests that eliminating cost-sharing reductions payments could increase premiums by 14 percent, in addition to causing a large number of insurers to leave the exchanges. Other studies have suggested an even higher increase if the compensating premium increase occurs among silver plans alone, from 19 to 29 percent. Similar estimates have been put forward by insurers, actuaries, and insurance commissioners, as well as by hospitals, doctors, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

To remove this uncertainty, President Trump and Congress must make clear that they will not play political games with people’s lives, that they will fulfill their obligations under the ACA, and they will fully fund cost-sharing reduction payments on a permanent basis.

The size of the uncertainty rate hike would vary by state, as shown in Table 2. If we assume an uncertainty rate hike of 8.5 percent above the normal increase, equivalent to insurers hedging against a 25 percent chance of loss of the mandate and cost-sharing reductions, the extra annual premium increase would range from $300 on average in Massachusetts to an average of $1,060 in Alaska. If insurers build in a 50 percent chance the administration takes both these major actions to undermine the exchanges, the average rate hike would be more than $1,000 in close to half the states.

UPDATE: Doctors Write To Congress

This is the letter that went to Congress Wednesday:
Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi:

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 Our organizations, which represent over 560,000 physicians and medical students, remain concerned with ongoing efforts that in our view could destabilize our nation’s health care system. We believe that pending legislation proposals would dramatically increase costs for older individuals, result in millions of people losing their health care coverage, and return to a system that allows for discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. We are especially concerned about the changes to Medicaid and Medicaid financing contained within AHCA.

Our members are the frontline physicians who provide physical and mental health care services to millions of men, women, and children each day. They provide care to children, the aged, those with chronic conditions, people battling substance use disorders, and the many individuals who are seeking prevention and wellness services in an attempt to be healthier. Our members see firsthand the important role that health care coverage and access to affordable, high quality care plays in people’s lives and their pursuit of better health and well-being. They also recall those days when patients faced discrimination based on their age, gender, or health conditions, and remember when those with mental and behavioral health needs were denied coverage.

This experience with the health care system is why our organizations strongly oppose the compromises that have been recently reported. These compromises are built on the flawed foundation of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would result in millions of Americans and, according to the CBO, over 7 million with employer-sponsored insurance, losing their coverage.

Further, these compromises would allow individual states to obtain waivers to opt-out of important benefit and patient protection provisions in current law. Under the proposed “Limited Waiver” authority, insurers in such states would once again be allowed to charge unaffordable premiums to people with pre-existing conditions based on their individual health risks, and decline to cover ten categories of essential services including prescription drugs, physician and hospital visits, preventive services, and mental and behavioral health benefits. We are especially concerned that these changes would:
 Allow insures to deny millions of people facing addiction access to treatment and therapy, when such services are needed more than ever to address the opioid epidemic in the United States.
 Make health care even more expensive and further reduce access to care for millions, especially those over the age of 50;
 Force individuals with multiple chronic conditions into underfunded state-sponsored high risk pools, which have been proven ineffective numerous times;
Allow for gender rating by enabling states to opt out of maternity care coverage.
We urge Congress to reject these “compromises” and instead focus on enacting policies that improve upon current law, thus ensuring that more people have access to affordable health care coverage. Our organizations have provided several recommendations on how current law could be improved to accomplish these goals. A few of those recommendations are:
 Ensure that coverage remains affordable by maintaining premium and cost-sharing subsidies available under current law.
 Stabilize the individual market.
Take immediate action to provide long-term, adequate funding for the CHIP program.
 Identify and implement policies that make primary, preventive, and mental health more 
readily available to all Americans.
 Identify and implement policies that lower costs for individuals and families, especially 
the costs of pharmaceutical treatments.
Reform our medical liability laws.
 Reduce the administrative and regulatory burdens that add costs and inefficiencies to 
our delivery and insurance systems, and take away valuable time for us to care for our patients.

We recognize that our health care system is not perfect and reforms are needed. Our organizations and our members stand ready to work with Congress and the Administration to improve our health care system. However, we urge Congress to reject the AHCA and instead focus on the implementation of policies that aim to improve our health care system versus those that seek to destabilize it and would make quality health care less available to millions of Americans.


American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Physicians

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists American Osteopathic Association

American Psychiatric Association
And the AARP added this to the debate this morning:

40% of older adults ages 50-64-- or about 25 million people in this age group-- could be denied health coverage because of a preexisting condition if they sought to buy an individual plan.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ohio Is All Gerrymandered Up-- And Of Course You Can Blame Arch Hypocrite John Kasich


Want to understand Kasichism? Ohio Governor John Kasich has a new book out, Two Paths: America Divided or United, and you don;'t even have to read it because he's on a media blitz to push it. On The View Tuesday he addressed the reason-- a 2020 presidential run-- most people are paying attention to it: "A lot of people say, 'Well, he wrote this be 'cause he wants to run for office or whatever.' No, I wrote this book because, folks, we can't live fighting, even inside our own families."

Later he was on Chris Hayes' show. It was so dull. Chris tried to make it interesting but Kasich didn't like being challenged on his conservative pieties. Eventually he just said, "We're not going to spend our time here arguing economics. You're a liberal, I'm a conservative... What I want to talk about is..." Chris, be a little more discerning with the book-writer guests.

Kasich ended the evening with Trevor Noah on the Daily Show, clip above, where he actually said something useful and interesting. And he actually brought it up himself, his very last point in the 15 minute segment. "A handful of billionaires," he said, "could pick a president and that's just dead wrong. It's a Supreme Court ruling and I'm against it."

Earlier he claimed to not like gerrymandering, although it's worth noting-- which Trevor didn't-- that one of the country's most repulsive gerrymanders-- Ohio-- was signed off on by Governor Kasich. It was done between Obama's two elections, when Ohioans were split down the middle. In 2008, Obama beat McCain 2,940,044 (52%) to 2,677,820 (47%) and in 2012 he beat Romney 2,827,710 (51%) to 2,661,433 (48%). In 2008 the Democrats won 10 congressional seats and the Republicans won 8 seats. Ohio lost 2 seats in the 2010 reapportionment and Republicans in the legislature-- with Kasich in the governor's mansion-- rejiggered the districts to give the GOP a 13-5 (and eventually a 12-4) majority. The 2016 Almanac of American Politics explained what happened:
Republicans had cracked Columbus into multiple districts to shortchange Democrats. But the state capital was growing and attracting progressive-minded voters at such a rate that neither the Republican-held 12th [Pat Tiberi] nor 15th [Steve Stivers] might hold until 2020.

So for three months in mid-2011, Republican legislative aides bunkered in a clandestine Columbus hotel room, and under the watchful guidance of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, hatched yet another innovative scheme. Republicans would pack Democrats into a new Columbus 3rd District, merge Kaptur and Kucinich in a skinny 9th District stretching 100 miles along Lake Erie, and throw Sutton into a nearby 16th District favoring freshman Republican Jim Renacci. They would also have to sacrifice by merging two of their own, Dayton area Republicans Mike Turner and Steve Austria. But the creation of a Columbus Democratic vote sink would produce a beneficial ripple effect, allowing Republicans to shore up other freshmen and keep a 12-4 advantage.

The legislature and Gov. John Kasich easily approved the plan... 21 Democrats caved and voted with the Republicans... Republicans got the 12-4 delegation they envisioned in a state that Barack Obama twice won.
A constitutional amendment that would have established an independent congressional redistricting commission was defeated by voters on November 6, 2012. And last November Ohio gave Trump a pretty massive 2,841,005 (51.7%) to 2,394,164 (43.6%) win over Hillary Clinton. Trump won every Republican-held district and one Democratic-held district, Tim Ryan's 13th, where Obama's 62.9-35.4% win over Romney turned into a 51.1-46.6% Trump win.

The DCCC ignored Ohio entirely in 2016-- they didn't back one Democratic candidate-- and plan to do the same in 2018. Right now there are a handful of Democrats who are going ahead without DCCC help or backing. Janet Everhard and Richard Crosby are vying for the nomination to take on Brad Wenstrup (OH-02); Andrew Mackey is taking on Jim Jordan (OH-04); Michael Milisits ir running for Michael Turner's seat (OH-10); Betsy Rader is taking on David Joyce (OH-14) and Aaron Minnick will run against Steve Stivers (OH-15). Jim Renacci isn't running for reelection and there are likely to be several Democrats who run in the 16th district.

If the DCCC had plausible candidates in place and 2018 did indeed see an anti-Trump tsunami, Democrats would likely be able to win at least 4 seats: OH-01 (Cabot), OH-10 (Turner), OH-12 (Tiberi) and OH-14 (Joyce). But without plausible competitively-financed candidates they will win no seats in Ohio, which is part of the DCCC plan as of now. Here's the DCCC's Ohio Fight Song:

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Time For The Democrats To Use Paul Ryan To Win Elections-- Montana


Goal Thermometer Paul Ryan's SuperPAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has continued spending immense sums of money to prop up weak Republican candidates. Ryan spent millions on ineffective, counterproductive attack ads in GA-06 even before the GOP had a candidate, spent several hundred thousand dollars in KS-04 and is rapidly approaching the million dollar mark in Montana. Today Ryan's sleazy corporate-financed SuperPAC announced it would pour another $3.5 million into GA-06, bringing the total to $6.5 million, the most any outside group has ever spent in a congressional race anywhere. And Trump is headlining a fundraiser in Atlanta for Handel on Friday. Ryan's shady SuperPAC is spending $800,000 on the ad above in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls and Missoula, hoping to tear down Rob Quist on behalf of the an untenable and out-of-touch Republican multimillionaire, Greg Gianforte.

The ad attempts the old Republican trick of conflating every Democrat with Nancy Pelosi. Ironically, you know who people hate and mist-trust far more than Pelosi? Yep, Paul Ryan. Right-wing website Breitbart much a big deal out of the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that looks so terrible for Ryan.
Forty percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Ryan, compared to only 22% who view him positively, according to the poll. The numbers represent a major decline in popularity since February, when Ryan’s net favorability was only one percentage point negative. The same drop in support is mirrored among Republican poll respondents, with net favorability falling from 49-points to 23 in the same period.

Ryan’s drop in popularity was more significant than that among the long-abysmally low rating for Congress as a whole. The percentage of those with a favorable view of congressional performance fell from 29 to 20 since February. The drop among Republicans was more significant, falling to a mere 31% from the high 40s.

This outpouring of disapproval comes after Speaker Ryan spearheaded the abortive effort to repeal and replace Obamacare with his own “American Health Care Act.” The bill had to be withdrawn for lack of support and drew criticism from across the spectrum of Republican politics. The perception of Ryan’s ability to deliver legislative victories in the House took a major hit in the aftermath of his health care bill’s demise, with some members of Congress calling for his replacement.

Other legislative initiatives have stalled under Ryan’s leadership. He has repeatedly stated that tax reform will likely to be possible only after the precarious health care situation is untangled. At the moment, the House is embroiled in a struggle to pass a budget to keep the government running, with contention over the funding of President Donald Trump’s signature border wall apparently stalling this often routine measure.

As Congressional Republicans approach the oft-discussed 100-day mark of the Trump presidency, Speaker Ryan is unable to point to any major legislative accomplishment. Negotiations are ongoing to revive the momentum for implementing the GOP’s agenda, but the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests the electorate is losing confidence in the Republican leadership’s ability to do so.
Tying Gianforte's campaign to Paul Ryan might be a great strategy for Montana Democrats and for the DCCC. In fact, it might be a far better approach than this pretty innocuous stab at a negative ad:

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Will Putin-Gate Lead To Impeachment?


Looks like his decision to not seek reelection has set Jason Chaffetz free from at least some partisan obligations to the Trumpist Regime. Watch that video above. Responding to a question about Trump/Putin crony Michael Flynn, Chaffetz said "As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law." CNN reported that "The announcement about Flynn comes a week after CNN reported that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a senior adviser to the President, has yet to detail to the federal government all of his foreign contacts, a condition of receiving his top secret security clearance, CNN has learned. When Kushner first submitted his forms to the FBI, he left the section about foreign contacts blank-- despite the fact that he had met with a large number of foreign emissaries and leaders once Donald Trump became the president-elect and he became the point man for international contacts for the incoming Trump administration."

Trumpist flack Spicy Spice then went on the air to say that Chaffetz's and the House Oversight Committee’s request for documents on Flynn is "pretty outlandish," defending the Regime's shocking denial of the request. The number of Americans who want an independent, non-partisan professional investigation into Putin-Gate has been growing by leaps and bounds, According to the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll the number of Americans who want an independent probe is now 73%. And 61% of respondents say they have little to no confidence in Congress conducting a fair and impartial investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election.

Putin-Gate is now a giant octopus of interconnected scandals that is quickly swallowing the entire Trump Regime. It's no longer just about Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page-- all of whom are likely to see prison terms-- but has spread right to the top, including Kushner-in-law. Devin Nunes, head of the Intelligence Committee was forced to recuse himself from the investigation (as was Attorney General Jeff Sessions) and Nunes is now under investigation himself for having participated in a coverup.

Yesterday Politico reported that Flynn's stint as a secret lobbyist for Turkey was tied to-- wait for it-- Putin!
The Turkish man who gave Mike Flynn a $600,000 lobbying deal just before President Donald Trump picked him to be national security adviser has business ties to Russia, including a 2009 aviation financing deal negotiated with Vladimir Putin, according to court records.

The man, Ekim Alptekin, has in recent years helped to coordinate Turkish lobbying in Washington with Dmitri “David” Zaikin, a Soviet-born former executive in Russian energy and mining companies who also has had dealings with Putin’s government, according to three people with direct knowledge of the activities.

This unusual arrangement, in which Alptekin and Zaikin have helped steer Turkish lobbying through various groups since at least 2015, raises questions about both the agenda of the two men and the source of the funds used to pay the lobbyists.

Although Turkey is a NATO ally, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has grown increasingly authoritarian and friendly with Putin. And the hiring of Flynn by Alptekin came at a time when Flynn was working for Trump’s campaign and Putin’s government was under investigation for interfering with the U.S. election.

Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, declined to comment. In a filing with the Justice Department, Flynn said he relied on assurances from Alptekin that he was not directly or indirectly funded by a foreign government. But shifting explanations and a web of business ties raise questions about the arrangement.

Flynn has offered evolving accounts of his lobbying work for Alptekin. In September, Flynn reported his client as a Dutch shell company owned by Alptekin. After being forced to leave the White House-- reportedly because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations during the transition with the Russian ambassador-- Flynn filed new paperwork in March acknowledging that his lobbying work “principally benefitted” the Turkish government.

The revelation of Russian business ties to the man who hired Flynn-- which has not been previously reported-- threatens to complicate the White House’s struggle to escape the shadow of the FBI investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian agents.

Flynn has been a focus for concerns about Russian ties to both the Trump campaign, for which he was a key adviser and surrogate, and the Trump administration, in which, as national security adviser, he had access to the most sensitive state secrets.
Yesterday's NY Times reported that the same Kremlin hackers who put Trump into the White House have begun working on winning the French election for neo-Nazi Marine Le Pen. Nicole Perlroth wrote that "The campaign of the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been targeted by what appear to be the same Russian operatives responsible for hacks of Democratic campaign officials before last year’s American presidential election, a cybersecurity firm warns in a new report. The report has heightened concerns that Russia may turn its playbook on France in an effort to harm Mr. Macron’s candidacy and bolster that of Mr. Macron’s rival, the National Front leader Marine Le Pen, in the final weeks of the French presidential campaign. Security researchers at the cybersecurity firm, Trend Micro, said that on March 15 they spotted a hacking group they believe to be a Russian intelligence unit turn its weapons on Mr. Macron’s campaign-- sending emails to campaign officials and others with links to fake websites designed to bait them into turning over passwords. The group began registering several decoy internet addresses last month and as recently as April 15, naming one and another to mimic the name of Mr. Macron’s political party, En Marche. Those websites were registered to a block of web addresses that Trend Micro’s researchers say belong to the Russian intelligence unit they refer to as Pawn Storm, but is alternatively known as Fancy Bear, APT 28 or the Sofacy Group. American and European intelligence agencies and American private security researchers determined that the group was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee last year."

Putin has his intelligence forces going all in to do in France and Germany exactly what he was able to a chief in the U.S.-- undermine democracy and placing political leadership into the hands of a divisive, incompetent and friendly politician. It's worth mentioning that the Republican passage of Jeff Flake's bill to allow internet service providers to sell everyone's personal information-- which was swiftly and secretly signed by Trump-- will make these kinds of operations-- allowing the Russians to gain access to the campaigns' email accounts-- all the easier.
“The phishing pages we are talking about are very personalized web pages to look like the real address,” Mr. Mahjoubi added. Anyone could easily think he was logging into his own email. “They were pixel perfect,” he said Monday night. “It’s exactly the same page. That means there was talent behind it and time went into it: talent, money, experience, time and will.”

The goal was to obtain the email passwords of campaign staff members so a cyberattacker could lurk unseen inside an email account reading confidential correspondence. “If you are speed reading as you sign on, and everybody speed reads online, it’s something you might not notice,” Mr. Mahjoubi said. “For instance, it uses a hyphen instead of a dot, and if you are speed reading you don’t look at the URL.”

Unlike the attacks aimed at Mrs. Clinton’s staff, those directed at the Macron camp, Mr. Mahjoubi said, failed to gain access to any email accounts used by the candidate or his lieutenants.

This winter, the campaign’s website also came under attack. The attacks coincided with highly slanted articles about Mr. Macron on the French language services of Sputnik and RT, formerly Russia Today. Both are state-funded Russian news media outlets.

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Trump Continues To Make It Impossible For Congressional Republicans To Govern


Everything Trump puts his hand to turns to crap. Yesterday even Rush Limbaugh accused him of being, in effect, a loser. "I’m not happy to have to pass this on. I’m very, very troubled to have to pass this on. And I want to say at the outset that I hope my interpretation is wrong, and I hope this is not the case. But it looks like, from here, right here, right now, it looks like President Trump is caving on his demand for a measly $1 billion in the budget for his wall on the border with Mexico." Trump isn't fit for any government position under any circumstance and the fact that this ignorant crook is president and has some role in governance is just crazy. But this is exactly what conservatism leads to.

Even GOP corporate whores in Congress think Trump's push to cut corporate taxes from 35% down to 15% is insane and potentially extremely damaging to the economy. It would send the national debt into the stratosphere. Since this kind of thing can't be passed under reconciliation, Trump would need all the Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats to get this passed, even if it manages to pass the House. Ryan is trying to help by offering to use a border adjustment tax (BAT) to raise a trillion dollars but even that isn't enough and not even Trump likes the tax. Club For Growth is on the warpath over it already and has been targeting Republican congressmembers who back it. Look at this ad they're running in Houston against vulnerable GOP doofus John Culberson:

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation found that even Ryan's plan to cut the corporate tax rate to 20% would lead to massive revenue losses-- in the realm of nearly half a trillion dollars. The Joint Committee found that "cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent in 2018, 2019  and 2020 would lead to a decline in tax revenue collected those years by roughly one-third. And tax receipts would continue falling-- albeit only slightly-- in subsequent years, in part because companies would rush to repatriate money they are holding overseas during the tax holiday. The result would be reduced taxes on those foreign profits in future years."
While Ryan and other House Republicans are advocating a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, President Trump wants the corporate rate lowered to 15 percent, which would lead to an even bigger drop in revenue, although the committee did not provide an estimate for such a change. The White House is expected to reveal more details of its tax plan Wednesday.

“We note that we project a nonnegligible revenue loss in the tax years immediately following the budget window notwithstanding the temporary nature of the tax reduction,” says the letter, which was signed by Thomas Barthold, the Joint Committee’s chief of staff.

The letter illustrates how even a temporary cut in the corporate tax rate could create major revenue challenges. It also shows how difficult it would be for Republicans to pass long-term changes to the tax code. Under Senate rules, a permanent tax cut that is expected to expand the deficit needs 60 votes to pass-- a major obstacle for Republicans, who control only 52 seats in the chamber. Without 60 votes, Republicans would be able to pass only temporary tax cuts, and the three-year cut referred to in the Joint Committee’s letter probably would not qualify, because of the reductions in taxes in later years.
The bullshit artist in the Oval Office is using the oldest trick in the book-- long discredited-- to pull the wool over everyone's eyes, claiming that his "proposed tax cuts would not lead to an increase in the deficit, because they would lead to a boom in economic growth, creating new tax revenue. But when congressional budget scorekeepers evaluate the bill, they won't use that growth assumption to determine whether the legislation will expand the deficit. Trump administration officials have also said lowering the corporate tax rate will create new incentives for companies to bring jobs back to the United States, and they have said it will also lead companies to bring trillions of dollars being held overseas back to their U.S. headquarters."

Progressives in Congress saw right through Trump's little kindergarten tricks. Ted Lieu: "I can explain in one word why the Trump tax plan and Trumpcare are both disasters: math.  No matter how hard the President and Republicans spin it, 2 + 2 will never equal 5... Despite this mathematically impossible spin, a cold, hard fact remains: the Trump tax plan does not pay for itself. It doesn’t even come close. America is a great nation, but we haven’t yet discovered magic. In the real world, the rules of math always apply.  Instead of paying for itself, the Trump tax plan-- particularly it’s slashing of the business tax rate to 15% without offsetting revenue increases-- will blow a 'bigly' hole in our nation’s budget, federal deficit and federal debt."

The House Republican plan, which seeks a 20 percent tax rate, includes changes to the corporate tax structure that would raise taxes on imports. This change, frequently called a “border adjustment tax,” would bring in roughly $1 trillion in new revenue over one year, according to estimates. The committee's letter did not factor in the potential new revenue that could come from a border adjustment tax.

The Trump administration has not said what types of new tax changes it might seek to offset the big drop in revenue from rate cuts.

The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation, a think tank, has estimated that it would take substantial economic growth to offset Trump's proposed 15 percent corporate tax rate, something it estimated was not achievable without other changes. For example, it projected that the tax cuts would have to lead to an increase in annual gross domestic product by 0.9 percent per year  to create enough revenue to offset the cuts. Rather, it estimates that the cut would lead to an increase in annual growth of 0.4 percent.
Julie Davis and Alan Rappeport warned NY Times readers this morning that the Regime's tax plan was written for billionaires-- and especially for family companies like... the Trump Organization. There is a a modest cut for middle-income people in the form of a small increase in the standard deduction for individuals but it puts off "the difficult part of a tax overhaul: closing loopholes and increasing other taxes to limit the impact of tax cuts on the budget deficit."
Republicans are likely to embrace the plan’s centerpiece, substantial tax reductions for businesses large and small, even as they push back against the jettisoning of their border adjustment tax. The 15 percent rate would apply both to corporations, which now pay 35 percent, and to a broad range of firms known as pass-through entities-- including hedge funds, real estate concerns like Mr. Trump’s and large partnerships-- that currently pay taxes at individual rates, which top off at 39.6 percent. That hews closely to the proposal Mr. Trump championed during his campaign.

But Mr. Trump’s decision to extend the corporate tax cut to real estate conglomerates like his own will give Democrats a tailor-made line of attack.

“Yesterday, we learned President Trump wants to slash the corporate tax rate, even though corporations already dodge most of their tax responsibilities while making record profits,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of the liberal Americans for Tax Fairness. “Today, we find out it’s even worse. In trying to slash taxes for ‘pass through’ business entities, Trump is seeking to dramatically reduce his own tax bill.”

...[F]inding ways to offset the large revenue reductions envisioned in the blueprint would be a challenge... The border adjustment tax may be revisited later but was considered too controversial to include now.

...Most analysts say the notion that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts will pay for themselves is unrealistic. A Tax Foundation analysis concluded this week that, on its own, a 15 percent corporate tax rate would reduce federal revenue by about $2 trillion over a decade. To make up for those losses without raising taxes elsewhere, the economy would have to become 5 percent larger.

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