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Donald Trump and his Coterie of the Craven (part 16)

157 posts in this topic

Ehh Melania still a racist. Also forever disgusted with Trump forever being turned on by his daughter. Again you'd think with that in addition to many other things could have been a turn off for voters but nope!



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It's getting to be an almost laughable refrain, repeated whenever our current President garbles his interviews, insults a foreign leader, disregards norms of either politics or polite human behavior, or uses his position to enrich himself or his family: "Imagine if Hillary Clinton did that."

The latest example might be the most egregious. In a now-removed post, the State Department touted Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club as "the winter White House," advertising the place's history and violating ethics rules in the process.

Of course, Trump himself has used his position to line his pockets by way of the club -- membership dues doubled to $200,000 the year after his election, and he's spent a quarter of his first 100 days at Mar-a-Lago (with travel costs and extra security costing American taxpayers million of dollars).

By contrast, Hillary Clinton was questioned unrelentingly about her involvement in her family's global health charity, an organization that brought HIV/AIDS treatment, sustainable farming initiatives, malaria prevention and other relief to millions. The organization had her hobnobbing with some of the world's most powerful people; the ethical concern was that a donation to the charity might be seen as pay-for-play, currying favor with the would-be second President Clinton. Mrs. Clinton's involvement in the organization was one part of what made her "crooked Hillary," according to Trump.

Apparently working your relationships to get AIDS treatment to kids is an unacceptable ethical breach, but using your position as the sitting president to funnel money back to yourself -- well, that's just good business in Trump's world.

The rules are simply different for Trump. He flouts them so flagrantly, lies so relentlessly, and seems to have no emotional capacity for shame or intellectual capacity to process what he's done wrong, making him incredibly hard to nail down. Indeed, the forever problem with Trump is simply that his misdeeds and errors and scandals are so numerous it's impossible to keep up, or to keep the media watchdog eye trained on just one.

Politicians and journalists could obsess over Benghazi or the Clinton Foundation or emails because they fit an agreed-upon narrative, and they were individual stories, each limited in scope. And Hillary, a typical political animal, responded: hit her enough and she'll try to shape-shift, apologize, please the public, all to get the media to give her a fair shake.

Trump? He just gives journalists the finger. We shrug, take it, and continue to play whack-a-mole, chasing the story of the day.

Imagine if Clinton not only owned a private club, but used it to enrich herself. Journalists and politicians alike would be crowing -- and rightly. Trump is so crooked, and such a huckster, we're used to it. Taking the promotional page down from the State Department website was "enough." What a pathetic shift in norms -- in what is considered acceptable behavior of the President of the United States.

Candidate Clinton was hammered for trying to do some good in the world. Meanwhile Trump is golfing on a property he owns, rubbing shoulders with the global elite willing to pay to have access to the President, even as his administration is crafting a plan to end foreign aid as we know it -- gutting programs that help vulnerable people in developing countries.

Cutting help to the world's poorest people while fattening his own wallet. Aren't we all glad we focused our ire on the Clinton Foundation?

Found something new to mutter under my breath, so I can stop cursing so much.


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Forgive me if this has been posted already: "Trump boasts of highest TV ratings since ‘the World Trade Center came down’"


Donald Trump has long been television ratings gold, and, even as president, he has kept his eye squarely on the small screen as a gauge of his popularity, a barometer for his governing agenda and his ability to dominate the airwaves, as The Washington Post's Ashley Parker and Robert Costa reported Monday.

Now, in an interview with the Associated Press released Sunday, Trump set a new standard of hubris even for himself — comparing his ratings prowess to one of the darkest days in U.S. history: Sept. 11, 2001.

“It's the highest for 'Face the Nation' or as I call it, 'Deface the Nation,' " Trump told the AP's Julie Pace, referring to the CBS News Sunday political talk show. “It's the highest for 'Deface the Nation' since the World Trade Center — since the World Trade Center came down.”

Trump said he helped the CBS Sunday morning political talk show score 5.2 million viewers, although it was not clear which appearance he was referring to. Trump's appearance in January 2016 registered 4.6 million viewers, according to TV Newser. His subsequent appearances on “Face the Nation” during the campaign last year got lower ratings, including after a Republican primary debate in February 2016.

As a New York real estate promoter, Trump certainly would have had a unique perspective on the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the twin towers. But his choice of using that moment, considered one of the most-filmed events in history at a time of emerging technology, as a measuring stick could strike many as tin-eared and inappropriate.

Trump made the comparison during a long, boastful interview in which he touted his ability to bring viewers. He said he scored 9.2 million viewers on Fox News when he spoke to anchor Chris Wallace last fall.

“It had 9.2 million people,” Trump said. “It's the highest they've ever had.”

At the same time, Trump used the opportunity to denounce, as he has repeatedly, the press corps again as “fake media” that treats him “very unfairly.” Trump, who has elected to skip the White House correspondents' dinner Saturday, has announced that he will hold a campaign rally in Harrisburg, Pa., to mark his 100th day in office on the same evening, in a bit of counterprogramming.

Some of the media, Trump said, “bears no relationship to the truth.”

Still, the president can't quite quit the mainstream press that he has so long been obsessed with. The White House announced that Trump will grant an exclusive interview to “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson to mark his 100th day, set to air this weekend.


No, Agent Orange, YOU bear "no relationship to the truth". What a freaking tool. And, how nauseating, to use the September 11 attack coverage as a yardstick for your ego stroking.


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"Trump changes course on child-care benefit after criticism he would mainly help well-off families"


The White House is pursuing a new approach to providing relief for families burdened by child-care costs after receiving criticism that a campaign proposal would have done little to help working-class families while providing disproportionate benefits to well-off parents.

The Trump administration is now looking to bolster the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which allows working parents to slice a maximum of $2,100 from their tax bill for spending on child care, according to a senior administration official.

The centerpiece of Trump’s earlier approach would have allowed parents to deduct the average cost of child care from their income taxes, a strategy that would have benefited families with a high level of income. Lower-income families often don’t have a federal income tax burden and so wouldn’t have received much of a benefit under the plan. The campaign also proposed child-care spending rebates through the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax credit for the working poor, which would have been capped at $1,200 per family. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center had estimated that 70 percent of Trump’s child-care plan would flow to families earning more than $100,000 a year.


Now, the administration is focusing on the Child and Dependent Care Credit. A senior administration official said the White House is looking to increase the value of the credit, while limiting how much higher-income parents can benefit from the tax credit. The administration is also considering proposing making the tax credit refundable, which would allow lower-income families to benefit from it even if they pay minimal or no federal income tax.

Senior officials are also considering the creation of child- and eldercare savings accounts, with additional benefits for low-income households. Further details were not available. The Trump administration will also push for legislation that incentivizes on-site child care and take steps to ease regulations to allow more child-care operations.

Word of the efforts come as Trump plans to announce Wednesday principles for a broad overhaul of the tax code. Those principles were not expected to discuss proposed changes to child-care tax credits in any detail.

The senior administration official said the Treasury Department is running “point” on this process, and there is also a team within the White House that is working on women’s economic and family issues. Ivanka Trump, the first daughter who this month became assistant to the president, has been pushing the effort on Capitol Hill.

The financial burden of child care widely across the country. In Alabama, for example, the average cost of infant care annually is about $5,500, while parents in D.C. typically shell out $22,000.



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"White House unveils dramatic plan to overhaul tax code in major test for Trump"


President Trump on Wednesday proposed a dramatic overhaul of the tax code, calling for sharply lower rates for individuals and businesses but also eliminating key tax breaks.

The proposal is an outline – key details are left unfinished – but it presents an initial offer to begin negotiations with lawmakers, as White House officials believe reworking the tax code is one of their biggest priorities to boost economic growth.

“We have a once in a generation opportunity to do something big and important on taxes,” White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said Wednesday.

White House officials are ambitious, but the path to overhauling the tax code is riddled with political landmines. Many budget experts believe the White House’s plan would reduce federal revenues by so much that it would grow the debt by trillions of dollars in the next decade, growing interest costs and slowing the economy.

And Trump’s advisers are looking to axe some tax breaks that are very popular in certain states, including the deduction Americans take for the state and local taxes they pay separately each year. Eliminating this deduction could save more than $1 trillion over 10 years, but inflame lawmakers and governors in states that have high income tax rates.

The central feature of the White House’s plan would be a big reduction in tax rates for virtually all Americans and businesses.

It would eliminate the seven existing income tax brackets and replace them with three brackets, containing new rates of 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent, based on someone’s income. White House officials haven’t specified which income levels would hit the higher tax brackets, as they see that as part of ongoing discussions with Capitol Hill.

It would also roughly double the standard deduction that Americans can use to reduce their taxable income. The deduction for married couples would move from $12,600 to $24,000. This would incentivize people not to itemize their tax returns and instead use the standard deduction, simplifying the process and potentially saving taxpayers thousands of dollars each year.

The White House plan would eliminate the alternative-minimum tax and the estate tax, provisions that raise billions of dollars each year but have long been the target of Republicans seeking to rip up the tax code. Cohn, speaking of the AMT, said “we don’t think that people should have to do their taxes twice,” and added that the estate tax unfairly prevented

In order to offset some of the cost of the lower rates, Trump administration officials said they were proposing to eliminate virtually all tax deductions that Americans claim, provisions that they argued primarily benefited wealthier Americans. Cohn said they would preserve tax breaks that incentivize home ownership, retirement savings, and charitable giving. But almost all others would be jettisoned.

This includes the tax deduction people can claim for the state and local taxes they pay each calendar year. These taxes can be particularly high in states with higher income taxes, such as California and New York.

“It’s not the federal government’s job to be subsidizing the states,” Mnuchin told reporters at the briefing with Cohn. “It’s the state’s independent decision as to do what they want to tax.”

Some of the White House’s tax changes would benefit the wealthy, such as the elimination of the estate tax, while other changes would benefit the middle class and lower-income Americans.

For businesses, Trump’s proposal would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, and it would also allow smaller businesses, structured in such a way that they are affected by the individual tax rate, to also use the 15 percent threshold. There are millions of these businesses, known as “S Corporations,” and they are often small, family-owned firms.

But they can also include large law firms and lobbying shops. Mnuchin said special protections would be put in place to ensure that the 15 percent rate isn’t taken advantage of by the wealthiest earners, though he didn’t say how the White House would do this.

The White House is also proposing a one-time tax “holiday” to incentivize companies to bring several trillion dollars currently being held in other countries back into the United States. They didn’t specify what that tax rate would be, saying its currently part of negotiations on Capitol Hill, but they believed providing this incentive would bring money back for investment and hiring.

“We expect that trillions of dollars will come back on shore and will be reinvested here in the United States, for capital goods and job creation,” Mnuchin said.

This process is called “repatriation.” It’s controversial, because critics allege the money is brought back and then paid out in dividends to shareholders, not used for hiring. But Democrats and Republicans have both been open to the idea of a tax holiday. The Obama administration proposed using one to bring money back into the United States that could be used for new infrastructure projects, for example.

A key part of Trump’s tax plan during the campaign was to levy a tax or tariff against companies that move overseas and then try to sell their products back to American consumers. Cohn and Mnuchin said they were still looking at alternatives on how to structure this idea, and it was not an element of the plan rolled out on Wednesday. They said they found a plan embraced by House Republican leaders – known as a border adjustment tax – to be unworkable in its current form, but they are going to work with key lawmakers to see if adjustments can be made, Mnuchin said.

He also said White House officials were hopeful that their plan could win support from Democrats, but he said they were willing to forge ahead without them if necessary. They could use a special budget process known as reconciliation to pass the changes through the Senate with a simple majority vote, though this would be very difficult given how sharp they are planning to cut taxes. Mnuchin also said their goal was to make permanent changes to the tax code, but they would consider a shorter-term change if necessary to win political support.


Ahead of the announcement, some Democrats were skeptical. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), said members of his party would scrutinize the details, but he predicted the package could amount to major tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and for businesses like those formerly run by President Trump.

“That’s not tax reform,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “That’s just a tax giveaway to the very, very wealthy that will explode the deficit.”

Speaking Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill, Ryan called Trump’s framework “a critical step forward in this effort.”


The trouble Trump has is that while his administration says the tax cuts will over time pay for themselves, Congress’s nonpartisan budgetary referees at the Joint Committee on Taxation won’t work off that same assumption.

Because of the rules of the Senate, legislation that would result in more borrowing over the long term would be vulnerable to a Democratic filibuster, requiring 60 senators to advance the legislation. Republicans hold just 52 seats in the chamber, and absent those 60 votes, Trump and his fellow Republicans would only be able to pass cuts that would last for 10 years.

After that time, the tax cuts would expire unless Congress takes action, setting up another fight over taxes.

So, they would eliminate the AMT, which is the only reason Agent Orange paid taxes in the one year we've gotten to see. What a surprise. As for me, I live in a state that has high taxes, so being able to deduct that has been very helpful. I'm not happy if they take it away. Off to call my representatives.


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