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Category Archives: politricks


Apparently the Resident is on the edge of a breakdown or is he? The recent comment in a meeting with Congress has shown the true colors of Donald Trump and his elitist attitude. His rollbacks have shown that he no longer or never did care what his actions have and will do to America (not Trumps America). His Racist followers fail to see how his actions while perceived as happily pro white will haunt them as well as other targeted Americans. It is well to remember American was White second by way of European travelers arriving here and decimating the Native population from coast to coast with impunity. In the interim between those times and now the Native American population has been relegated to small pockets of land and in some cases dire poverty. Making America Great Again is no more than a Euphemism for “Whites Only, the only good Indian is a Dead Indian, all blacks and Mexicans are lazy while using the so called lesser Americans to do the work that “White” Americans will not do or do not want to do. It is pretty clear that we have a Racist in the White House who has seemingly come into his own with the tacit approval of our Neer do well Congress notably the Leadership who have been silent in many instances where you would hope a spokesman for the people would not be. By extension we have a Congressional leadership  for the most part that will overlook the gross incompetence of this Resident in order to get their own poor policies enacted. Listening to the conversations in the wake of The Resident’s Racist comments, it is clear that may be more members of Congress who are in accord if not in lock step with this poor leadership in the White House. Voters need to pay attention and reflect on what has been said and what has been promised compared to what is occurring right now. The power  to change is in the hands of the voters not in the hands of lifetime politicians who lie for a living and apparently have no moral compass.

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I recently posted a column which led with a quote from DR. Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784. This quote is: “Patriotism is the refuge of a scoundrel“. When I read this the image of the current administration and more notably Steve Bannon whose extreme views propelled TOTUS to the White House while we all watched in a mix of elation, awe, disbelief and wonder. This year 2017 has shown that this Residency is an aberration much like a boil that has to be lanced at some point to prevent further infection. In my opinion Steve Bannon pulled off a coup but the “chosen one” has not fulfilled his part primarily because he is not always the star. This failing of the Legislature, his cabinet and most of America’s citizens to adore him is tantamount to a slap in the face and he has slapped back with under thought actions that could hurt us even up to and including an unwanted or needed war of destruction. His cabinet choices have shown that he is looking for an entourage rather than people who can further and protect the interests of the United States. The upshot of this Residency can end in several ways, none of them good for us. If impeached and removed from office, VP Pence could be promoted, equivalent to a pet rock, if Pence is removed we will have Rep. Paul Ryan who can hardly string 2 thoughts together without trying to take money from the oft cited American people. What we as voters have to do, is replace as many mid-term candidates as we can with more moderate people who WE have vetted through our own research and investigation. It is well to remember that sound bites, slogans and buzzwords are no more than attention grabbers with no substance. This year’s end will be celebrated in the usual manner with parties and gaiety but with a dim view of 2018. The way to lift the veil of a dimmer 2018 is to begin to research potential candidates for office, new and incumbent to improve our Government and by extension improve us all.

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The above title may be recognized from the TV show “X files” however the truth is actually out there but comes to us more by accident than intention. Mitch McConnell in an interview stated that he wanted to work in bipartisan  manner in the next Senate. It is rather odd that he made that statement after pushing through an abominable Tax bill on a unilateral basis without the usual debate and in record time. This action is designed to gear up support for the upcoming election cycle in hopes of keeping a partisan majority in the Congress. You may remember Mitch famously stated that then President Obama would get nothing passed in this Senate and Paul the little child Ryan went along with it. So President Obama used executive orders to get things done. The ACA could have been great but Mitch and Paul wouldn’t have it so we have a hybrid that works somewhat. Mitch and Paul have not said a word about this Presidents executive orders that rescind programs and protection so whose welfare do you think they care about? The Resident Evil has one objective and that is to glorify himself at any cost . To that end he has installed a cabinet and other folks who will push his image and the lies that go along with that. Our Neer do wells have seen fit to ignore much of this while they gear up for elections instead of doing what they have told us they would do. It is incredible that these under performers treat us like idiots (and we have allowed it) while pushing anti People agendas under the guise of governing. To find the truth one only has to look at the fast work on a Tax bill that does more harm than good, allowing the Resident to threaten other countries without comment and lying to us (the often cited American people) all the while. If lying truly set pants on fire the there would be lucrative market for Trouser replacements on the Capitol steps, not to mention a rise in fire extinguisher use. It is my hope that in the remaining time of this Residency that we may be able to un-elect  some of the less moderate legislators and get some folks who will not be influenced by the long serving members who have agendas that do not include their constituents. It is our duty as voters to ignore the rhetoric and vote based on real facts. I have listened to aspirants who identify as conservative, liberal, progressive and other labels, these labels mean nothing if their ideology does not agree with yours. This is not a right or wrong situation , it is simply  what is good for all of us not some of us. If in your mind these ideas are not yours then vote for someone else. Our political system is not a game show where the audience has to be entertained or amused, it is serious business that needs careful study as if for a final exam. Once we study, we will make better choices.

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Rick Newman
Columnist
Yahoo Finance

December 20, 2017

Keith Parsons expects to have some unhappy clients in 2018.
Parsons is a tax preparer in Covina, Calif., outside Los Angeles, who looked over some of his clients’ recent tax returns to see how they’re likely to fare under sweeping changes Republicans are poised to pass. For some, taxes will drop. But others will end up paying more to Uncle Sam. “I’ve talked to several of them,” Parsons says. “They’re stunned. They’re all under the impression that they’re going to receive a tax cut.”
The Republican tax bill, which President Trump is likely to sign into law before Christmas, includes $1.5 trillion in tax cuts during the next 10 years. The majority of those cuts will accrue to businesses. About 80% of individuals taxpayers will end up paying less, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. But 5% of taxpayers will end up paying more, largely because of lost deductions that will raise taxable income.
Lower tax rates are meant to offset the loss of deductions, leaving most people better off. But some taxpayers will get caught in the seams of the new tax structure, by falling into a higher tax bracket, in some instances, or losing so much in deductions that lower rates don’t close the gap. Here’s a sampling of taxpayers who expect to end up worse off under the GOP tax plan:
The California tax preparer. Keith Parsons’ own tax bill will go up under the GOP plan, as it will for many of his clients. Parsons, 61, who’s married with two kids in college, claimed about $30,000 in itemized deductions in 2016. Under the GOP rule changes, his state and local tax deduction will now be capped at $10,000, and he’ll lose the personal exemption for all four family members, or $16,200 worth of deductions.

The GOP plan is supposed to make up for eliminating personal exemptions by doubling the amount of the standard deduction, to $24,000 for a married couple. But that won’t save Parsons money. With fewer itemized deductions, it will make more sense for him to claim the standard deduction. Overall, that would reduce his deductions from $30,000 to $24,000, or push his taxable income up by about $6,000. He’ll still fall into the same tax bracket, and his overall tax would increase by $1,035, he estimates.
As for his clients, they’re likely to be stung by two changes: the new cap of $10,000 on all state and local tax deductions, and the elimination of all personal exemptions. “You keep hearing the Republicans touting the doubling of the standard deduction,” Parsons says. “But you don’t hear anybody on the Republican side talking about the removal of the personal exemptions. The more children you have on your tax return, the more it’s going to affect you.”
The freelance writer in Boise, Idaho. Susan, who asked us not to use her last name, ran the numbers and estimates her tax bill will rise by a modest $200 or so under the GOP plan. “Trump is calling this a giant tax cut for the middle class, a Christmas present for the middle class,” Susan says. “I don’t see that. It’s certainly not a tax break for me.”
Susan, who’s 57 and divorced with two adult kids, bought a house this year and counted on being able to deduct interest on her mortgage to lower her tax bill. That won’t change. But like many others, Susan will now see a diminished benefit from itemizing because of the new cap on state and local deductions. She worries that could dent demand for homes and lower property values. “It’s a new wrinkle I’m worried about,” she says. “It’s possible my house won’t appreciate because people could lose the incentive, from a tax perspective, to buy a house.”
The retired purchasing manager in New Jersey.  Donald Barnett of Fair Lawn, NJ, expects his tax bill to rise by about $3,400 under the new law. The retired purchasing manager, who’s 76, will lose two personal exemptions, for his wife and himself, and thousands more in state and local taxes he’ll no longer be able to deduct. Overall, that will raise his taxable income by about $20,000. He’ll drop from the 25% bracket under the current law to the lower 22% bracket under the new law. But his overall tax bill will still go up, simply because he’ll be paying tax on so much more income.
It won’t be catastrophic. “I’m a person of decent means, so this will impact me mentally more than financially, Barnett says. “But I don’t think it was done fairly, and I think it will hurt a lot of people.”
“I have a continuing problem with the inequitability of this,” adds his wife Jeannie, 69. “There is no middle class in this country any more. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.”
The Pennsylvania surgeon. Brian, who also asked that we don’t use his last name, talked with his accountant about how the new rules will affect him. “I’ll end up paying more in taxes because my taxable income will go up considerably,” the 51-year-old surgeon says.
Brian’s practice is a pass-through business, which means he pays most of his income at individual tax rates. But since it’s a service business, he won’t get the maximum benefit of a new tax-cut for pass-throughs. In 2016, he deducted about $32,000 in state and local taxes. That will now be capped at $10,000. His marginal tax rate could decline, but not enough to offset the loss in deductions.
Brian also worries that the new, lower limit on mortgage-interest deductibility could make it harder to sell his home, should he want to do that. The new law will limit the deductibility of interest to mortgages of no more than $750,000, which could affect the sale of his home in the future. Brian worries that potential buyers might exert pressure to lower the price from what it might otherwise be, in order to get the full benefit of the interest deduction.
“I voted for Trump,” Brian says. “Clearly this law benefits him and all his friends in corporate America. But I’ll end up paying more in taxes. This has not left a pleasant taste in my mouth.”
The aircraft engineer in Louisville. Jacob Zettwoch manages his taxes carefully every year, making sure to claim enough deductions, including charitable ones, to remain in the 15% tax bracket. But the loss of personal exemptions for 4—himself, his wife and two school-age kids—plus the new cap on state and local deductions will raise his taxable income and bump him into the next bracket, which will be 22% under the new law.
That matters because the income on dividends is tax-free if you’re in one of the two lowest brackets. Above that, however, filers have to pay capital-gains taxes on dividend income. Zettwoch, 41, receives shares from his employer as part of his compensation, and he’ll now have to pay taxes on that income.
His overall tax bill may stay more or less the same, but he objects to the way backers of the bill characterize its effect on families. “They’re pulling the wool over people’s eyes when they talk about doubling the standard deduction,” he says. “For a family of 4, you’re actually worse off, between losing the exemptions and doubling the standard deduction. In my case, I’m going to lose deductions. It will drive us into the next tax bracket.”
Confidential tip line: rickjnewman@yahoo.com. Encrypted communication available.

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As I was listening to various news reports today and interviews with GOP legislators, It is apparent that our Party line legislators are either not very smart or they think we uneducated rubes. This tax reform according to people who job is the economy and the things that affect it, this tax reform will not serve the majority of us. According to a Legislator from the Northeast anyone making $90000 (middle class) will get $3000 in tax breaks next year. If middle class is in the $90000 annually, then what will someone who makes less than $90000 get or what will anyone in the range of 20 to 50 thousand get? This figure of $90000 does not specify the family circumstances which can affect the tax rate or refund amount(if any). This legislator stated that our economic growth was slow while Obama was in office (that growth was in the 2% range, which is good considering the real estate bubble which almost crashed the economy and keep in mind that the Trump administration is taking credit for the growth). The GOP is offering a growth of 3% which will not happen with this administration, especially with rollbacks of Obama Era executive orders and protections along with this abominable Tax reform. Not many of these legislators have read the entire tax plan but the regularly cite parts of out of context. We have an issue than can only be resolved by the vote and not along party lines. This “sweeping reform” is nothing more than an election ploy for 2018 to show that the neer do wells have done something even if its wrong for us (the American People). I submit that we the Often cited and continually ignored American people become apolitical and not be controlled or swayed by any one party. Both sides have good and bad but primarily it the leaders of each side makes the difference and right now we have 2 of the worst leaders of the majority party. We the American People never signed on for the abomination that is being forced upon us. I would suggest that we the recipients of this “largesse” push for a reduction in pay for all of Congress as they do not have any of the issues of their constituents but continue to benefit from those issues and only seem to address them when election is near. The way to change Congress is to change Congress. We may lose some good representatives but a message needs to be sent. We cannot depend on the Congress governing themselves so it up to us and that is done in the voting booth. We as voters have a choice: bend over or stand up!

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If there was ever any doubt about the Trump agenda and by extension the GOP’s political track, the soon to be in effect Tax Bill will clarify them. This is the same smoke and mirror scenario put out By 2 previous GOP administrations and the State of Kansas. I make every effort to remain as apolitical as I can but sometimes one has to call B.S. when it appears. There is nothing that this administration has done to benefit the oft cited American people and the neer do well Congress has followed the script towards 2018 where they hope to remain in power. It is pathetic that these miscreants treat the population as if they (we) are all idiots. It is important to remember that we now have a legislative body who in a C.Y.A. move will present a flawed bill to a Flawed CIC and allow the blame to fall on his shoulders while the ill effects descends on the American people who they have often cited as their main concern. If as citizens you ascribe to this administration’s extreme use of “alternate facts” and extreme media talking heads then it probably time to re read history during the Nixon Presidency. There are no honest politicians only folks with an agenda that coincidentally helps the public.


 

 

Internal FCC Report Shows Republican Net Neutrality Narrative Is False

The story of net neutrality as an Obama-led takeover of the internet was refuted by an Inspector General investigation whose findings were not made public prior to Thursday’s vote.

Jason Koebler

Jason Koebler

Image: Alex Wong/Getty

A core Republican talking point during the net neutrality battle was that, in 2015, President Obama led a government takeover of the internet, and Obama illegally bullied the independent Federal Communications Commission into adopting the rules. In this version of the story, Ajit Pai’s rollback of those rules Thursday is a return to the good old days, before the FCC was forced to adopt rules it never wanted in the first place.

“On express orders from the previous White House, the FCC scrapped the tried-and-true, light touch regulation of the Internet and replaced it with heavy-handed micromanagement,” Pai said Thursday prior to voting to repeal the regulations.

But internal FCC documents obtained by Motherboard using a Freedom of Information Act request show that the independent, nonpartisan FCC Office of Inspector General—acting on orders from Congressional Republicans—investigated the claim that Obama interfered with the FCC’s net neutrality process and found it was nonsense. This Republican narrative of net neutrality as an Obama-led takeover of the internet, then, was wholly refuted by an independent investigation and its findings were not made public prior to Thursday’s vote.

First, some background: The FCC is an independent regulatory agency that is supposed to remain “free from undue influence” by the executive branch—it is not beholden to the White House, only the laws that Congress makes and tells it to regulate. This means the president cannot direct it to implement policies. In November 2014, President Obama released a statement saying that he believed the FCC should create rules protecting net neutrality, but noted that “ultimately this decision is theirs alone.”

“We found no evidence of secret deals, promises, or threats from anyone outside the Commission, nor any evidence of any other improper use of power to influence the FCC decision-making process”

This statement kicked the Obama-is-taking-over-the-internet talking point into overdrive (fringe conservative groups had already been calling net neutrality “Marxist” in emails to Republican mailing lists).

In early December 2014, the FCC, then led by Tom Wheeler, announced it would delay tackling net neutrality until 2015. Conservatives attributed this delay to Obama’s meddling, and pointed to a Wall Street Journal article noting that there were “unusual, secretive efforts inside the White House, led by two aides,” that led to the FCC adopting the regulations.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called in Wheeler to discuss the FCC’s relationship with the White House. Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Obama’s statement caused Wheeler to “radically alter course,” asked Wheeler if the FCC had secret meetings with the White House, and demanded that the FCC’s Inspector General investigate: “I think there’s enough smoke here that it’s really worth looking at,” he said.

Using a Freedom of Information Act request, Motherboard obtained a summary of the Inspector General’s report, which has not been released publicly and is marked “Official Use Only, Law Enforcement Sensitive Information.” After reviewing more than 600,000 emails, the independent office found that there was no collusion between the White House and the FCC: “We found no evidence of secret deals, promises, or threats from anyone outside the Commission, nor any evidence of any other improper use of power to influence the FCC decision-making process.” This document is embedded below.

The summary was sent by Jay Keithley, an assistant inspector general, to David Hunt, who has been the FCC’s acting inspector general since 2009 (Hunt remains the IG today). The memo is dated August 22, 2016. The FCC OIG did not immediately respond to a question from Motherboard about why the memo had not been previously released to the public, but Wendy Hadfield, a paralegal at FCC OIG who processed the FOIA request in just one day (an extraordinarily fast turnaround time for a FOIA request) told me in an email that the agency “appreciate[s] the newsworthiness of this information” and attempted to process the document “in a useful timeframe.”

The FCC and Chairman Pai’s office did not respond to a request for comment sent Monday morning. This story will be updated if I hear back.

The report also found that the regulations were delayed in 2014 not because of Obama-administration meddling but because they simply weren’t ready yet: “While our teams have been working around the clock to try to be ready, there are significant obstacles to preparing a legally sustainable order in the time remaining,” Julie Veach, then-Chief of the FCC’s Wireline Bureau (which was working on the regulations), said in an email sent November 6, 2014 to Wheeler and other high-level FCC employees.

Republicans sold the public a narrative that wasn’t true, then used that narrative to repeal the regulations that protect the internet

The Inspector General’s report also notes that the record it reviewed did not support the analysis in a separate Senate probe titled: “Regulating the Internet: How the White House Bowled Over FCC Independence.”

“Nothing we found refuted the factual findings in the Senate Staff Report,” the IG wrote (bolding by agency). “More importantly, nothing we found in the complete, unredacted record evidenced any undue influence that would have militated in favor of a more comprehensive investigation.”

What the Inspector General found, then, were career public servants doing their job: “Nothing in these, or in any other emails appeared to indicate there was pressure to delay the Order from the December meeting from any source other than concerned FCC staffers,” the report found, adding that there was “no indication” that a draft of the net neutrality regulations had been circulated improperly.

Wheeler maintained through the whole process that Obama’s public statement had been entered into the public comment alongside comments by telecom companies, nonprofits, and millions of concerned citizens: “We will incorporate the President’s submission into the record of the Open Internet proceeding,” Wheeler said. The IG report noted that “while one could reasonably challenge the Chairman’s claim … our investigation has found no evidence to refute it.”

Since 2014, Republicans have pointed to net neutrality as an idea primarily promoted by President Obama, and have made it another in a long line of regulations and laws that they have sought to repeal now that Donald Trump is president. Prior to this false narrative, though, net neutrality was a bipartisan issue; the first net neutrality rules were put in place under President George W. Bush, and many Republicans worked on the 2015 rules that were just dismantled.What happened, then, is that Republicans sold the public a narrative that wasn’t true, then used that narrative to repeal the regulations that protect the internet.

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Noted economist Robert Reich explains Tax Plan.MA

Robert Reich

Saturday, December 16, 2017
Here are the 3 main Republican arguments in favor of the Republican tax plan, followed by the truth.
1. It will make American corporations competitive with foreign corporations, which are taxed at a lower rate.
Rubbish.
(1) American corporations now pay an effective rate (after taking deductions and tax credits) that’s just about the same as most foreign based corporations pay.
(2) Most of these other countries also impose a “Value Added Tax” on top of the corporate tax.
(3) When we cut our corporate rate from 35% to 20%, other nations will cut their corporate rates in order to be competitive with us – so we gain nothing anyway.
(4) Most big American corporations who benefit most from the Republican tax plan aren’t even “American.” Over 35 percent of their shareholders are foreign (which means that by cutting corporate taxes we’re giving a big tax cut to those foreign shareholders). 20 percent of their employees are foreign, while many Americans work for foreign-based corporations.
(5) The “competitiveness” of America depends on American workers, not on “American” corporations. But this tax plan will make it harder to finance public investments in education, health, and infrastructure, on which the future competitiveness of American workers depends.
(6) American corporations already have more money than they know what to do with. Their profits are at record levels. They’re using them to buy back their shares of stock, and raise executive pay. That’s what they’ll do with the additional $1 trillion they’ll receive in this tax cut.
***
2. With the tax cut, big corporations and the rich will invest and create more jobs.
Baloney.
(1) Job creation doesn’t trickle down. After Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush cut taxes on the top, few jobs and little growth resulted. America cut taxes on corporations in 2004 in an attempt to get them to bring their profits home from abroad, and what happened? They didn’t invest. They just bought up more shares of their own stock, and increased executive pay.
(2) Companies expand and create jobs when there’s more demand for their goods and services. That demand comes from customers who have the money to buy what companies sell. Those customers are primarily the middle class and poor, who spend far more of their incomes than the rich. But this tax bill mostly benefits the rich.
(3) At a time when the richest 1 percent already have 40 percent of all the wealth in the country, it’s immoral to give them even more – especially when financed partly by 13 million low-income Americans who will lose their health coverage as a result of this tax plan (according to the Congressional Budget Office), and by subsequent cuts in safety-net programs necessitated by increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion.
***
3. It will give small businesses an incentive to invest and create more jobs.
Untrue.
(1) At least 85 percent of small businesses earn so little they already pay the lowest corporate tax rate, which this plan doesn’t change.
(2) In fact, because the tax plan bestows much larger rewards on big businesses, they’ll have more ability to use predatory tactics to squeeze small firms and force them out of business.
***
Don’t let your Uncle Bob be fooled: Republicans are voting for this because their wealthy patrons demand it. Their tax plan will weaken our economy for years – reducing demand, widening inequality, and increasing the national debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
Shame on the greedy Republican backers who have engineered this. Shame on Trump and the Republicans who have lied to the public about its consequences.

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According to Wikipedia this just one of many definitions or explanations of “political correctness”. Political correctness or politically correct has been a subject of controversy for many years going back to 1934 America and before that in Colonial England. For the purpose of this posting the 2016 election is covered.

2016 US presidential election.
In 2015 and 2016, leading up to the 2016 United States presidential election, Republican candidate Donald Trump used political correctness as a common target in his rhetoric. According to Trump, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were willing to let ordinary Americans suffer because their first priority was political correctness.
In a column for the Huffington Post, Eric Mink characterized Trump’s concept of “political correctness”:
Political correctness is a controversial social force in a nation with a constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression, and it raises legitimate issues well worth discussing and debating. But that’s not what Trump is doing. He’s not a rebel speaking unpopular truths to power. He’s not standing up for honest discussions of deeply contentious issues. He’s not out there defying rules handed down by elites to control what we say. All Trump is defying is common decency.
In the light of the sexual assault allegations and the criticism the alleged victims faced from Trump supporters, Vox notes that after railing so much against political correctness they simply practice a different kind of repression and shaming: “If the pre–“political correctness” era was really so open, why is it only now that these women are speaking out?” Following the 2016 election, Los Angeles Times columnist Jessica Roy wrote that “political correctness” is one of the terms used by the American alt-right
As a conspiracy theory.
Some conservative commentators in the West argue that “political correctness” and multiculturalism are part of a conspiracy with the ultimate goal of undermining Judeo-Christian values. This theory, which holds that political correctness originates from the critical theory of the Frankfurt School as part of a conspiracy that its proponents call “Cultural Marxism”, is generally known as the Frankfurt School conspiracy theory by academics. The theory originated with Michael Minnicino’s 1992 essay “New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and ‘Political Correctness'”, published in a Lyndon LaRouche movement journal. In 2001, conservative commentator Patrick Buchanan wrote in The Death of the West that “political correctness is cultural Marxism”, and that “its trademark is intolerance”.

I would offer that political correctness could be defined as “honesty” (certainly an oxymoron these days). Many Trump supporters eschew “political correctness for “telling it like it is” (another oxymoron). “Telling it like is” is in the eye of the beholder and not necessarily true or false but more skewed to suit the situation. This assumption of bullying, name calling and pointing fingers as a political platform is not new but really should have no place in modern politics as all information on anyone’s political bent and beliefs is readily available to all if one wants to know. The key to good government is in the hands of the people not in someone running for election. It is wise to remember that many candidates will and have lied to gain an office. It is well to remember that election campaigns have become expensive and we (supporters pay just a small portion) while the larger share is put forth by deep pocket entities that have an agenda that does not usually bode well for the normal voters. Looking at the rash of executive orders signed with great flourish by our TOTUS, there is no careful consideration just the idea of repealing anything Obama no matter what good comes from it. What is apparent to me is we have an administration that has no true direction beyond advancing the ego trip the TIC is on while governing goes by the wayside or worse left in the hands of 535 neer do wells assisted by unqualified Cabinet members with no ability to fulfill the duties of the office they are tasked with administering.


Is Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin a fool or a knave?

Robert Reich, RobertReich.org12.03.20176:29 PM
This originally appeared on Robert Reich’s blog.

One of the most dangerous consequences of this awful period in American life is the denigration of the truth, and of institutions and people who tell it.

There are two kinds of liars — fools and knaves. Fools lie because they don’t know the truth. Knaves lie because they intend to mislead.

Trump is both, because he doesn’t even care enough about the truth to find out what it is. He’ll say whatever he thinks will get people to believe what he wants them to believe.

What about people like Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s point person on the Republican tax bills now making their way through Congress?

Mnuchin continues to insist that the legislation puts a higher tax burden on people earning more than $1 million a year, and reduce taxes on everyone else. “I can tell you that virtually everybody in the middle class will get a tax cut, and will get a significant tax cut,” Mnuchin says repeatedly.

But the prestigious Tax Policy Center concludes that by 2027, almost all of the benefits of both bills will have gone to the richest 1 percent, while upper-middle-class payers will pay higher taxes and those at the lower levels will receive only modest benefits.

So is Mnuchin a fool? His career before he became Treasury Secretary doesn’t suggest so. He graduated from Yale, and worked for seventeen years for investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Perhaps Mnuchin doesn’t find the Tax Policy Center credible. Maybe he agrees with Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, who describes it as “a left-leaning center that produces analyses that favor Democratic tax-and-spend programs and disfavor Republican programs.”

In the age of Trump, even prestigious organizations once considered non-partisan are either “with us” or “against us.”

Problem is, virtually all other studies by every other source show the House and Senate tax bills overwhelmingly benefit the rich and, within a few years, harm the middle class.

Even Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation – the House and Senate’s official scorekeeper on tax issues – finds that the Senate’s version of the bill would increase taxes on all income groups making under $75,000 per year.

By 2027, it would give its biggest tax breaks to those making $1 million or more. The House bill would be even more generous to millionaires and billionaires.

Mnuchin’s response? He has none. He just keeps repeating the same lie.

Mnuchin also maintains that the Senate and House tax plans won’t cause the federal deficit to rise. “This isn’t about the deficit,” he said recently. “We’ll create economic growth to pay down the deficit.”

But even the Tax Foundation — a major proponent of the corporate tax cuts — estimates the House bill will cause a $1.08 trillion revenue loss over ten years and the Senate bill, a $516 billion loss.

Assuming Mnuchin isn’t a fool, he’s a knave. He intends to deceive the public.

By doing so he has abandoned his duty to the American people inherent in the oath of office taken by every cabinet official, in favor of advancing the goals of his boss and other Republicans in Washington who are desperate to pass their tax bill.

 He has also sacrificed his credibility and integrity.

Why? Because he’s Secretary of the Treasury in an administration that has no integrity. Merely by joining Trump, he made a Faustian bargain and lost whatever integrity he might have had.

Recall that after Trump equated white supremacists with protesters in Charlottesville, and several hundred of Mnuchin’s Yale classmates urged him to resign in protest, Mnuchin found it “hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the president.”

After Trump demanded that NFL owners deal harshly with black athletes protesting police brutality, Mnuchin said the athletes should “do free speech on their own time. This is about respect for the military and first responders in the country.”

Apparently Mnuchin will say anything to retain his power and influence in the Trump administration.

He knows he’ll never have anything close to this power again.

Mnuchin probably figures: So what if he lies about the true consequences of the tax bills? Trump lies about them, too. So does the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

He probably assumes most of the public will never know he lied. Even those who know will soon forget. In this era of Trumpian big lies, there are no consequences for lying.

But history may not be kind to Steve Mnuchin.

Over the last century, authoritarian and fascist regimes have intentionally and systematically denigrated the truth.

The knaves who helped them are remembered in ignominy

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