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Daily Archives: December 3rd, 2017


By Todd Gitlin | Nov 30, 2017
When Trump launched his n+1st vileness on Twitter yesterday, retweeting phony and incendiary videos (talk about “fake news”!) posted by a lunatic-fringe white Christian Muslim-hating British website, Britain First, the reaction from anti-racists was quickly and rightly outraged. Britain First traffics in demographic panic that can be summarized easily: The white Christians are vanishing! THEY are taking over.
Its chiefs, in particular deputy leader Jayda Fransen, roam Europe, not just Britain, crusading against Muslims and mosques. After being arrested at a Belfast rally, she popped back in a video to call her arrest evidence that “Britain has become Sharia compliant and our establishment has now instituted legislation that constitutes blasphemy laws here in the U.K.” This was way too much for Prime Minister Theresa May, whose spokesman declared after Trump’s retweets:
Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies, … stoke tensions, … cause anxiety to law-abiding people. … [T]he prejudiced rhetoric of the far right … is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect.
Nevertheless, May declined to lift her invitation for a Trump state visit.
Britain First is a fringe sect whose videos are slapped-up, scattershot, mislabeled, and concocted shouts of fire in crowded theaters. Ordinarily, though, they have limited reach. Even after a massive boost from Trump, their Twitter subscribers number 27.3 thousand. Trump’s blast away to 43.6 million. This is how the fringe migrates mainstream. This is how a trickle-down of vileness acquires a fire hose.
But the big story doesn’t stop with Trump’s globe-wide gift to the worst devils of human nature. It’s not even that Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the tweets on the ground that, whether or not the videos are true to reality, “the threat” [of Islam] is real.” The big story is that Trump, or his trusted Ministers of Internet Intake, inhabits a bottom-barrel world in which Fox News and Infowars and Gateway Pundit and—sure—Britain First loom large. They’re picking this stuff up, combining through it, repurposing it all the time.
They’re picking it up selectively and combing it to weaponize it most efficiently. As The Guardian pointed out, “The Islamophobic videos were originally tweeted by Fransen on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning before being picked up by Trump. They were not sequentially posted, meaning the president would have had to scroll through her timeline before picking out which videos to retweet.”
Martin Callanan, the Conservative Party’s Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union, told the BBC: “I can only assume [Trump] has made a mistake and that he didn’t realize who Britain First were.” But no, Trump doesn’t make that sort of mistake. Along with the rest of what he is pleased to call his “movement,” he lives in an intellectual universe, if we can call it that, where race-hatred, Islamophobia, Jew-hatred, and refugee-hatred are the overpowering themes.
To anyone paying attention, this has been crystal-clear since at least early July 2016, when Trump retweeted a red Star of David shape slapped onto a bed of $100 bills—an image derived from the online white-supremacist movement. For at least the fifth time, Trump’s Twitter account was sharing a meme from the racist “alt-right” and offering no explanation why. (I wrote about his immersion in online loathsomeness then for billmoyers.com.)
Ben Kharakh and Dan Primack, at Fortune.com had more detail:
Throughout his campaign, Trump has been blithely recycling tweets from neo-Nazis and white supremacists who revel in the phrase “white Genocide.” They use those tweets, copy them and reuse them. Thus, consciously or not, they flash signals to the Make America White Again crowd—come on board. As one prominent neo-Nazi put it, Trump is “giving us the old wink-wink.”
Kharakh and Primack scrupulously tried to give Trump an out, writing:
It is possible that Trump―who, according to the campaign, does almost all of his own tweeting—is unfamiliar with the term “white genocide” and doesn’t do even basic vetting of those whose tweets he amplifies to his 7 million followers. But the reality is that there are dozens of tweets mentioning @realDonaldTrump each minute, and he has an uncanny ability to surface ones that come from accounts that proudly proclaim their white supremacist leanings.
Trump said then that he doesn’t pay attention to the source of his tweet material. He sees what he likes and retweets it. Asked by Kharakh and Primack for more detail about his Twitter practice, his spokesperson Hope Hicks “declined to explain how Trump searches through his Twitter feed. Hicks also declined (repeatedly) to answer Fortune’s question as to whether or not Trump believes that white genocide is a legitimate concern.”
Here’s the point: Trump’s Twitter pattern tells you a lot about the crowd he or his Twitter-reading staff hang out with. If you believe that Trump or his top lieutenants just happen to stumble on these racist tweets—singling them out from among the vast universe of possible source materials, perhaps because neo-Nazi design ideas are so “interesting”—then I’ll buy you a life membership at Mar-A-Lago and a lifetime supply of Pepto-Bismol to accompany it.
The great big story is not just that Trump lies and bullshits. It’s not only that Trump and his campaigners court Americans who want to make America white and Christian again. The problem is not only the vicious and lunatic legions who creep out from under the rocks at his signals. He lives in their world. He breathes their air. Tweets like those of Britain First don’t fly onto his screen at will. A slime-pit of race and religion hatred is the universe where Trump and his movement live.

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I am hoping that the American people are watching the progress of this awful tax reform/cut. The end result will be a slam to most American who are not in the upper middle-income brackets. This Congress has for years worked to convince us that they are on our side even to the point of decrying the ACA as being bad even in light of the fact that the ACA has benefitted millions of Americans especially those who previously has no coverage at all. Now under the guise of a benefit they are picking our pockets with a so called Tax reform that mirrors the “trickle down” reforms of the Reagan era. I suggest all who consider themselves conservative and Republican need to separate the two as they are not the same. We ALL are conservative (one definition: moderate, cautious) but according to our own perspective. The Republican version is quite different and not good for any of us. If we as voters do not rise up against this administration and the Congressional minions we are in for a long hard slog which will take many years to correct. We are already on the road to becoming pariahs on the world stage and allowing the advances made with our allies to become moot. The upcoming mid term elections will be our first opportunity to fight back but until then call and write your Congressional representative (now an oxymoron)  tell them that they are wrong and you demand they change their support for this abominable legislation.MA

MEGAN HUGHES

ABC News December 2, 2017

The massive tax overhaul passed by the Senate early Saturday morning will if enacted into law impact millions of Americans in different ways.

By and large, the most costly provision continues to be reducing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) gives that a $1.4 trillion price tag. Republican claims the measure would pay for itself were also debunked this week by the JCT. Their analysis estimated the bill would grow the economy by .8 percent over a decade, still adding $1 trillion to the deficit.

When it comes to individual income taxes, the Senate measure also makes broad cuts across income levels. However, most of the individual income tax provisions will sunset after 2025 unless Congress acts. The bill also includes a change to inflation adjustments that would raise taxes slightly compared to what they would have been under current law.

By 2027, every income group under $75,000 is expected to see tax increases according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The corporate rate cut, from 35 percent to 20 percent, will be permanent.

The Senate bill is not the final word.

The Senate and House versions of tax reform have big differences including the treatment of the health insurance mandate penalties, as well as the number of tax brackets. The two will need to be reconciled before they get to President Trump’s desk.

Here’s how the Senate plan could affect you:

2017 rates versus your rate under the Senate bill

The Senate bill maintains seven brackets, the same number as exist under current law, but it also lowers most of the rates and raises many of the income thresholds. For example, a married couple making $200,000 in 2017 would have paid $42,884.50 in taxes. Under the Senate bill, they would move from the 28 percent to the 24 percent tax bracket, and their tax bill would drop to $37,079 — before deductions are considered.

 Standard deduction goes up, other deductions out

The Senate bill would nearly double the standard deduction.

For individuals, it would go from $6,350 to $12,000. For married joint filers, it raises that deduction from $12,700 to $24,000. This may result in fewer taxpayers itemizing their deductions, and the bill’s supporters hope that standard deduction increase will help offset the elimination of other deductions.

“Generally speaking, if you are a taxpayer that takes the standard deduction currently … good chances are you get a tax cut,” said Scott Greenberg, a senior analyst at the Tax Foundation. “Taxpayers with large amounts of itemized deductions, some of them could see a modest tax increase.”

 

“Lawmakers are trying to create a tax code where fewer taxpayers use deductions that are related to specific economic activities and more taxpayers use the standard deduction,” Greenberg said.

Who takes a hit? In the first eight years, Greenberg says the potential losers are generally people who make great use of tax preferences rather than taking the standard deduction. A few stand out.

People living in high-tax cities and states

People living in high-tax cities and states like New York and California will take a hit, though Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, lessened that blow in the final hours of negotiations by retaining some deductions for property taxes.

The original bill completely eliminated the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT), but Collins insisted on retaining a deduction on property taxes up to $10,000. According to the Tax Foundation, the property tax deduction accounts for just over one-third of all state and local taxes deducted in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available.

According to that group’s analysis, this deduction also benefits middle-income earners more than deductions on state and local income tax would. In Westchester County, New York, the property tax deduction alone is worth $5,548 per filer, according to the Tax Foundation.

The issue was expected to be a sticking point in the final negotiations reconciling the Senate and House versions.

“It would have been a point of disagreement that they’d have to sort out,” Greenberg said.

Upper-middle income households with a lot of children

Although the bill does expand the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 it also does away with personal exemptions. If you’re in the 25 percent bracket or lower and you have children, Greenberg says “the Senate bill is a good or harmless trade.”

The personal exemption allows individuals to deduct more than $4,000 as a “personal exemption” for themselves, their spouses, and each dependent. Greenberg says this could hit upper-middle income families.

Health insurance consumers on the individual market

The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that federal budget deficits would be reduced by about $318 billion by eliminating the penalty associated with the individual mandate. Those effects would occur mainly because households are expected to make less use of things like premium tax credits and Medicaid.

Lower enrollment would mean fewer benefits coming from federal coffers. There is concern that eliminating the mandate’s penalties would lead to adverse selection, where young, healthy people choose not to enter the insurance market, and that would lead to higher premiums.

Wins for the wealthy

While in the first eight years after the bill’s passage, the losers are expected to be the people who make use of tax preferences, the measure includes some big wins for millionaires.

“The tax benefit for high-income households as a percentage of their income would be higher than the tax benefits for other income group households as a percentage of their income,” Greenberg said.

The top tax rate for the highest-income Americans drops from 39.6 percent to 38.5 percent. Also, because of the brackets being reorganized, married couples making between $500,000 to $1 million would see their tax rate drop from 39.6 percent to 35 percent.

Wealthy Americans would also see a benefit in the Senate bill’s changes to the alternative minimum tax (AMT). Senate Finance Committee documents say this was done to help simplify the tax code,

Finally, the richest Americans would see a boon in an expansion of exemptions from the estate tax, also called the “death tax”.

Currently, when a person passes away, his or her heirs can receive up to $5.5 million in property and assets tax-free. The Senate bill doubles that amount ($11 million for individuals, $22 million for married couples).

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