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Coconut Flan

United States Congress of Fail - Part 4

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GreyhoundFan

Well, McTurtle and Lyan were able to get their gift to corporations and the super-wealthy through. I'm so angry, I don't know what to do. "A win for the wealthy, the entitled and the irresponsible"

Spoiler

REPUBLICANS IN Congress passed a huge tax bill Wednesday, in what is being hailed as a major win for President Trump and his party. In time, however, it very likely will be remembered as an ignominious moment for Republicans.

To be sure, there will be some unmitigated winners. The bill is a victory for wealthy heirs, who will no longer have to pay estate taxes on inheritance worth up to $22 million. It helps tax dodgers and their lawyers, who will have some potentially huge new loopholes to exploit. Because the drafting process was so hasty and sloppy, no doubt there are many hidden in the text that even its authors do not realize are there.

The bill is a victory for corporations that look like the Trump Organization, the president’s privately held real estate business. “Pass-through” businesses like many of those within the Trump Organization get a new tax break. Other provisions single out real estate for special consideration in the tax code. The public can only guess at how much the president will personally benefit from the tax bill he is about to sign, because he has defied decades of bipartisan tradition by refusing to release his tax returns. In that sense, the bill is also a win for nontransparent government.

The bill is a victory for the discredited theory of trickle-down economics. It embodies the notion that big tax cuts for the wealthy will benefit low- and middle-class workers rather than simply enrich the already well-off.

The bill is a win for know-nothing anti-intellectualism. At every stage, Republicans have ignored or attacked independent experts warning them that their bill was unwise. They have undermined scorekeepers such as the Congressional Budget Office and the professional staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, because they did not like what these nonpartisan institutions said about their plans.

The bill is a victory for corrosive partisanship. Republicans could have hashed out a better, bipartisan plan, but they never seriously tried. Instead, they added to the bill a stealth repeal of a key piece of Obamacare and a provision allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Most of all, the bill is a victory for fiscal irresponsibility. Some of its provisions, such as lowering the corporate tax rate, would have been worthwhile if they had been paid for by closing loopholes or raising other federal revenue. Instead, the bill will make the nation’s debt trajectory even worse, by a trillion-plus dollars, even after accounting for new economic growth. The bill’s mild potential effects on competitiveness and growth are not worth such a steep price tag.

Cleaning up this mess will take years but must start now. The bill’s Obamacare rollback requires immediate passage of legislation to limit the damage to already shaky health-care insurance markets, preferably a significantly pumped-up version of a plan Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) have already negotiated. A technical-corrections bill may be needed to close unintentional loopholes, and government programs will have to be protected from automatic cuts triggered by the GOP tax policy’s fiscal irresponsibility. Longer-term, the picture is bleaker. Taxes will have to rise and spending on entitlement programs drop to fix sharply unbalanced budgets to come. This is the “victory” Republicans just handed the country.

 

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GrumpyGran
27 minutes ago, GreyhoundFan said:

Well, McTurtle and Lyan were able to get their gift to corporations and the super-wealthy through. I'm so angry, I don't know what to do. "A win for the wealthy, the entitled and the irresponsible"

  Reveal hidden contents

REPUBLICANS IN Congress passed a huge tax bill Wednesday, in what is being hailed as a major win for President Trump and his party. In time, however, it very likely will be remembered as an ignominious moment for Republicans.

To be sure, there will be some unmitigated winners. The bill is a victory for wealthy heirs, who will no longer have to pay estate taxes on inheritance worth up to $22 million. It helps tax dodgers and their lawyers, who will have some potentially huge new loopholes to exploit. Because the drafting process was so hasty and sloppy, no doubt there are many hidden in the text that even its authors do not realize are there.

The bill is a victory for corporations that look like the Trump Organization, the president’s privately held real estate business. “Pass-through” businesses like many of those within the Trump Organization get a new tax break. Other provisions single out real estate for special consideration in the tax code. The public can only guess at how much the president will personally benefit from the tax bill he is about to sign, because he has defied decades of bipartisan tradition by refusing to release his tax returns. In that sense, the bill is also a win for nontransparent government.

The bill is a victory for the discredited theory of trickle-down economics. It embodies the notion that big tax cuts for the wealthy will benefit low- and middle-class workers rather than simply enrich the already well-off.

The bill is a win for know-nothing anti-intellectualism. At every stage, Republicans have ignored or attacked independent experts warning them that their bill was unwise. They have undermined scorekeepers such as the Congressional Budget Office and the professional staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, because they did not like what these nonpartisan institutions said about their plans.

The bill is a victory for corrosive partisanship. Republicans could have hashed out a better, bipartisan plan, but they never seriously tried. Instead, they added to the bill a stealth repeal of a key piece of Obamacare and a provision allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Most of all, the bill is a victory for fiscal irresponsibility. Some of its provisions, such as lowering the corporate tax rate, would have been worthwhile if they had been paid for by closing loopholes or raising other federal revenue. Instead, the bill will make the nation’s debt trajectory even worse, by a trillion-plus dollars, even after accounting for new economic growth. The bill’s mild potential effects on competitiveness and growth are not worth such a steep price tag.

Cleaning up this mess will take years but must start now. The bill’s Obamacare rollback requires immediate passage of legislation to limit the damage to already shaky health-care insurance markets, preferably a significantly pumped-up version of a plan Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) have already negotiated. A technical-corrections bill may be needed to close unintentional loopholes, and government programs will have to be protected from automatic cuts triggered by the GOP tax policy’s fiscal irresponsibility. Longer-term, the picture is bleaker. Taxes will have to rise and spending on entitlement programs drop to fix sharply unbalanced budgets to come. This is the “victory” Republicans just handed the country.

 

The shell game with the American public will continue. If the Democrats refuse to help them fix the problems with more legislation, they will be blamed for everything. If they do help, they will get none of the credit for helping fill the huge potholes this bill created. Do Democratic Congress members go ahead and work toward fixing what can be fixed, knowing Republicans will take the cridit, or let them struggle to justify the problems ahead and be seen as callous. 

 

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GreyhoundFan

"The GOP tax bill will make life easier for tax cheats. Here’s how."

Spoiler

There were two important whistleblower reforms in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act when the Senate passed its version of the bill a few weeks ago: Both provisions were designed to stop tax evasion, closing loopholes that threatened to undermine whistleblower protections.

But neither provision made it into the House-Senate conference version of the legislation, scheduled to be voted on today. The bill now nearing final passage in Congress might as well be called the “Tax Fraud Protection Act” because it takes away incentives for whistleblowers to come forward in the first place.

In 2006, Congress passed the Internal Revenue Service whistleblower law, designed to encourage the detection of tax fraud. Under this provision, whistleblowers are entitled to a financial reward of 15 to 30 percent of tax proceeds collected if information originally provided by them to the IRS results in successful action against tax cheats. For instance, if a whistleblower’s information results in a $1 million penalty, the whistleblower is entitled to a reward of no less than $150,000.

On its face, the 2006 law covers all tax frauds, a position affirmed in a major U.S. Tax Court ruling, Whistleblower 21276-13W v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue (in which I was one of the attorneys for the whistleblowers). But in that case, the IRS argued that money obtained for violation of criminal tax laws — fines, as opposed to unpaid revenue — should be excluded from the whistleblower law. The Tax Court rejected this argument as a “fundamental misinterpretation of the plain language of the statute.”

The court’s decision makes sense — there shouldn’t be an artificial limit on the monetary incentive that encourages whistleblowing against those looking to cheat the federal government out of revenue. But the IRS disagrees. The commissioner appealed the decision in Whistleblower 21276-13W, arguing in a brief to the court that “the Tax Court erred” in holding that a whistleblower award can be based on a criminal fine. In other words, he asserted that the law doesn’t cover criminal tax frauds — in his reading, if a whistleblower’s information results in criminal fines and penalties, but no recoupment of other revenue owed the government, the whistleblower gets nothing.

If a whistleblower cannot obtain a reward for turning in information proving criminal tax frauds, like my confidential client known only as Whistleblower 21276-13W, there’s little incentive for him or her to come forward as a whistleblower to help the government, let alone work hand in hand with criminal investigators or testify in grand jury proceedings. This position undermines the 2006 law by tilting the scales in favor of tax cheats and against the U.S. government, giving whistleblowers little, if any, incentive to help the government build a criminal tax case against major corporations or wealthy individuals who may have hidden their money illegally overseas.

The commissioner’s arguments are dangerous because the 2006 law doesn’t separately shield employees who blow the whistle on an employer from being fired. The whistleblower can be fired for providing valuable information about the employer while the government uses the whistleblower’s information to win its case. The government could potentially collect millions in criminal fines and penalties while a whistleblower could wind up out of a job, get no remuneration and only try to collect unemployment. This scenario will have a massive chilling effect on potential whistleblowers, especially those who work for the large financial institutions accused of money laundering or illegally sheltering moneys in offshore accounts.

To the Senate’s credit, it used the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to try to close this loophole and clarify the law — an amendment to the Senate bill would have ensured that criminal tax frauds were covered under the whistleblower law.

In conference, though, without explanation, justification — or logic — this provision was cut. It means top officials at major financial institutions can rest better knowing that their employees may be without any protection if they expose money laundering and criminal tax schemes.

The conference committee also cut a provision from the Senate bill that would have protected corporate whistleblowers from double taxation on their awards. Under a Supreme Court ruling, Commissioner of IRS v. Banks, that upheld an internal IRS policy, if a whistleblower wins an award, he or she must pay income tax on the attorney fee portion of any judgment obtained, even if the attorney also pays income tax on the same amount.

Congress thought it had fixed this issue when it passed the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act as part of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, exempting existing whistleblower and employment discrimination laws from double taxation. But the law, with respect to whistleblowers in securities fraud cases, enacted as part of Dodd-Frank in 2010, is not explicitly covered in the Relief Act. So whistleblowers in those cases are justly concerned as to whether their rewards will be subjected to double taxation.

The Senate’s amendment clarified that whistleblowers under the securities and commodities anti-fraud laws are covered under the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act. But the removal of this amendment from the final tax cut legislation leaves these whistleblowers vulnerable to potential double taxation, discouraging reports.

The tax bill has been critiqued because the wealthy are the big winners, not the average American. The other big winners? Tax evaders and corporate criminals, who will have one less reason now to fear that they will be outed by whistleblowers.

Shaking my damned head...

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GreyhoundFan

From Jennifer Rubin: "Seeing through the GOP’s dishonest tax calculation"

Spoiler

Spend some time on one of the many tax calculators out there to estimate the impact of the GOP’s tax bill, and you quickly find there is no average American. A married couple under one calculator making $25,000 to $75,000 with no kids, living in a high-tax state (and therefore itemizing) likely pays $120 more under the new plan; but a non-itemizing couple could save $520. (That’s it? Yup). Change the income to $350,000 to $750,000, and the savings for an itemizer soars to more than $13,000 (much more if you can run your money through a pass-through).

But such calculators have a major omission. The bill also eliminates the individual mandate, which is estimated to increase premiums 10 percent (maybe there will be off-setting legislation passed in the Senate, but most likely the House would reject it). The GOP voted to cut taxes and raise the cost of health-care insurance for those in the individual market.

Let’s take a married couple making $70,000 in California. Go over to the the Kasier Family Foundation calculator and you find the Silver plan, with the subsidy, costs about $530 per month. Hike that 10 percent and over a year the couple is paying $636 more, adding to its loss (if they were itemizers in the example above) or wiping out its saving (if non-itemizing). That is the cost of this bill for those using the exchanges.

Let’s take someone in Maine, just to pick a state. A married couple making $100,000 and itemizing is supposed to save about $930 per year. But the couple’s Silver Plan tax plan went up about $125 per month. That couple loses about $600 per year.

Now, clearly there are winners even with the hike in the Obamacare premiums. Families with kids in low-tax states get more savings from the tax side, which outweighs the rising cost of their health-care premiums. And not everyone is in the individual exchanges. The point is not that everyone is a loser. It is twofold: 1) There will be a lot of winners and some losers and a lot of people who break close to even, and 2) It’s not fair to disregard the cost the bill likely imposes for those in the Obamacare exchanges. Moreover, if the premium costs continue to rise at 10 percent, thanks to repeal of the individual mandate, the premium hikes will eat up a larger and larger chunk of the tax “savings” over time.

And let’s discard the hooey that this bill is all about the middle class. A itemizing family with two kids making $750,000 or more in a low-tax state (e.g. Florida, Texas) saves nearly $20,000 (and probably isn’t in the exchanges). If the family can run some of the income through a pass-through, well, they’ve hit pay dirt. If Republicans think it is worth running up the debt, passing the tax bill to our kids and grandkids and cutting programs that benefit primarily middle- and lower-income Americans (we can’t afford them!) to reward these kinds of families, they should say so. (They should also acknowledge that they are grossly aggravating income inequality.)

You can see why Trump donors at Mar-a-Lago are tickled about the tax bill. What’s harder to understand is why Republicans think much more modest-income people getting far less, paying more for health care and seeing the champagne celebrations at Mar-A-Largo are going to believe this was all done for the “forgotten man and woman.” The GOP must think the forgotten man and woman are dumb, blind or forgetful.

"...dumb, blind, or forgetful." I think that just about sums up many Branch Trumpvidians.

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fraurosena

Reading all the above just hurts too read how badly the American people are being screwed over. But wait, it gets even worse...

Trump To Delay Signing Tax Bill So The Devastating Impacts Aren’t Felt Until After Midterms

Quote

The unpopular GOP tax scam may have finally made it through both chambers of Congress, but Donald Trump will likely delay signing it, new reporting indicates.

According to CBS News, Trump might wait until after the holidays to officially sign the bill into law so the proposal’s most devastating impacts won’t be felt until after the 2018 midterm elections.

More from the report:

Celebrations aside, President Trump may wait until next year to sign the tax bill into law, delaying $120 billion in automatic cuts to popular programs such as Medicare and sparing Republicans from having to explain them in an election year.

Here’s why: If Trump signs the tax bill this month, it could trigger steep automatic spending cuts early next year to a raft of programs. But if Trump waits until January to sign the bill, the spending cuts would be delayed until 2019 — after next year’s congressional elections — giving lawmakers a full year to prevent them.

In other words, Trump and his Republican allies in Congress know they sold the country an expensive bill of goods that will harm millions of people, whether it’s through higher taxes, the dismantling of Obamacare, or a spike in insurance costs. But they want to avoid these devastating effects as long as possible, particularly with a midterm election around the corner.

That’s why, despite the GOP rush to get it through Congress and the party’s suck-up celebration at the White House today, they appear reluctant to actually have the president sign it into law – at least right now.

If that’s not proof of just how damaging and politically suicidal this legislation is, then I’m not sure what is.

 

 

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GrumpyGran
5 hours ago, fraurosena said:

Reading all the above just hurts too read how badly the American people are being screwed over. But wait, it gets even worse...

Trump To Delay Signing Tax Bill So The Devastating Impacts Aren’t Felt Until After Midterms

 

I'm hoping there are enough people who can now see what liars they are and are disgusted by how the have enabled a lunatic and put our country in danger.

People just need to be reminded of what is coming if they allow Repubs to stay in Washington. The only ones who were smart enough to have already figured it out were the Repubs who voted against this crap. They should go too but they have a way out now.

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AnywhereButHere
9 hours ago, AmazonGrace said:

 

But it's all okay. They have paper towels...

 

I'm not surprised in the least that they had no fricking idea what they were voting on.

Quote

“So the seven brackets?” Brady said when we asked him. “So you got them right there. I’m heading to the floor and finishing my remarks on this tax cut and reform jobs act, so thank you.”

When we pressed Brady again to name the brackets, he dismissed the question. “So please, please. Seriously? I would like to finish my job,” he said.

I could make the argument that knowing what exactly comprises the bills you pass IS your job, moron! But hey, what do I know. God knows too many don't read anything longer than a Tweet these days, so how could they be expected to understand anything as long as a BILL THEY WROTE?

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GreyhoundFan

"Republicans celebrate their tax bill — and heap praise on Trump"

Spoiler

As he stood outside the White House on Wednesday, President Trump basked in the praise of Republican lawmakers assembled around him. He was lauded for his “exquisite presidential leadership.” He was touted as “one heck of a leader” and as a “man of action.”

The occasion was a celebration of the final passage of the GOP tax bill, by far the most significant legislative achievement of Trump’s tumultuous first year in office.

But the adulation from the Republican lawmakers signaled an even bigger moment: Many were embracing not only a shared accomplishment with Trump, but also his un­or­tho­dox presidency itself.

“You made the case for the tax bill,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Trump. But McConnell didn’t stop there.

“This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump administration,” crowed McConnell, who proceeded to praise the president for tackling the “overregulation of the American economy” and for winning Senate confirmation of a dozen nominees to federal circuit courts.

That, McConnell said, is better than any president has done since the creation of the circuit court system in 1891.

“You hold the record,” McConnell said. “Thank you, Mr. President, for all you’re doing.”

Just four months before Wednesday’s scene on the South Lawn, Trump and McConnell were giving each other the silent treatment after Trump had derided McConnell’s inability to get a health-care overhaul through his chamber. In August, Trump fired off several tweets targeting the Senate leader and told reporters he was “very disappointed in Mitch.” He wouldn’t say whether McConnell should resign.

On Wednesday, that issue seemed resolved in Trump’s mind.

“Thanks, Mitch,” Trump said. “What a job, what a job.”

On a crisp winter afternoon, the Republican lawmakers stood on the steps of the South Portico — assembled like the triumphant sports teams that visit the White House to receive Trump’s congratulations.

Trump touted passage of the tax bill as a team effort, adding: “It’s always a lot of fun when you win. If you work hard and lose, that’s not acceptable.”

For McConnell and many other Republicans on the Hill, Trump’s arrival in Washington was an arranged marriage. Many have grimaced at his provocative tweets and other unpresidential antics, holding out hope that Republican control of the White House and Congress would yield some long-elusive policy outcomes.

The tax battle offered evidence that such victories are possible.

As Trump played emcee at Wednesday’s event, he gave nearly a dozen lawmakers a turn at the microphone.

“I want to have them come up and get the glamour and the glory,” Trump said.

In fact, it was Trump who got most of the glory — from lawmakers who demonstrated they have learned that the president responds well to stroking his ego.

It was House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) who praised the “exquisite presidential leadership” of Trump.

“We would not be standing here if it were not for you,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said when he got his chance.

“But for your leadership we would not be here today,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which crafted the House version of the tax bill.

Brady’s counterpart, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, took things even further.

“Mr. President, I have to say that you’re living up to everything I thought you would,” Hatch said. “You’re one heck of a leader, and we’re all benefiting from it. . . . You stop and think about it, this president hasn’t even been in office for a year, and look at all the things that he’s been able to get done, by sheer will in many ways.”

Vice President Pence, as is his habit, was not to be outdone in praising his boss.

“I truly do believe, Mr. President, that this will be remembered as a pivotal moment in the life of our nation, a day when the Congress answered your call and made history,” he said. “But honestly, I would say to the American people, President Trump has been making history since the first day of this administration.”

Pence participated in a separate celebration of Trump just a couple of hours earlier, joining the president and his Cabinet in a meeting in the White House.

Shortly before the House took the final vote on the tax bill, Pence praised Trump for delivering a “middle-class miracle.” (Independent analyses show the GOP tax plan actually benefits corporations and the wealthy far more than the middle class.)

About 20 minutes of the Cabinet meeting witnessed by reporters included repeated praise of Trump and a prayer from Ben Carson, his housing secretary.

As Trump and his Cabinet bowed their heads, Carson thanked God for “a president and for Cabinet members who are courageous, who are willing to face the winds of controversy in order to provide a better future for those who come behind us.”

“Thank you, Ben. Beautiful,” Trump said after Carson wrapped up. “Thank you very much.”

An airsick bag won't suffice for witnessing this circle jerk, I think a 30 gallon heavy duty trash bag is required. My only question is: how long before McTurtle and Lyan push to rename their political party from Republican to Trumplican?

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fraurosena

Oh, about that Hillary/ Uranium One investigation? Turns out that the presidunce's current ambassador to Russia authorized Uranium One to do business in the US while Governor of Utah...

 

You.cannot.make.this.shit.up. 

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AmazonGrace

Marco Rubio is here  with biblical wisdom, folks:
 

Quote

 

 @marcorubio

Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will themselves call out and not be answered. Proverbs 21:13

 

He knows it's funnier if you listen to the poor people you screwed over and laugh at them.

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onekidanddone
2 hours ago, fraurosena said:

Oh, about that Hillary/ Uranium One investigation? Turns out that the presidunce's current ambassador to Russia authorized Uranium One to do business in the US while Governor of Utah...

 

You.cannot.make.this.shit.up. 

#butheremails #obama! #jimmycarter #seehowhannityspinsthis #somanyhashtagsmaketheymlookstupid

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GrumpyGran
51 minutes ago, AmazonGrace said:

 @marcorubio

Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will themselves call out and not be answered. Proverbs 21:13

Who is he talking to? Does he have DID? Or an evil twin?

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GreyhoundFan

Wanna take bets on how fast McTurtle changes his tune? "McConnell: Entitlement reform is a nonstarter in the Senate in 2018"

Spoiler

The Senate’s top Republican on Thursday quashed calls from House leaders to tackle Medicare and Medicaid spending next year, declaring it politically unfeasible and thus off the 2018 agenda.

“I think Democrats are not going to be interested in entitlement reform, so I would not expect to see that on the agenda,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a breakfast sponsored by Axios. “What the Democrats are willing to do is important, because in the Senate, with rare exceptions like the tax bill, we have to have Democratic involvement.”

McConnell’s comments are a direct blow to the agenda of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has been saying for weeks that Congress will work on ways to reduce spending on Medicare, Medicaid and welfare in the new year.

His statement is also a sign that Senate Republican leaders want to limit the situations in which they are willing to rely on procedural moves to get around Democratic opposition in a high-stakes election year.

Any challenge to entitlement spending could also find opposition in the White House. President Trump, as a candidate, promised he would not cut spending on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. In an interview with conservative radio host Ross Kaminsky earlier this month, Ryan said he was working to convince Trump about cutting spending on the programs.

McConnell’s dismissal of entitlement changes comes just one day after Republicans cheered themselves for passing the most sweeping tax bill to emerge from Congress in decades, the GOP’s first major legislative victory since assuming control of both Congress and the White House.

Republicans passed the tax bill without a single Democratic vote by using the budget reconciliation procedure, which allows certain fiscal measures to pass the Senate without clearing the usual 60-vote hurdle.

The Senate could try to use the budget reconciliation maneuver to reduce federal spending on the entitlement programs. But such reductions are a much more politically treacherous endeavor than the tax overhaul, particularly with the GOP trying to protect a slim 51-vote majority in the Senate next year.

And Democrats are already warning Republicans against attempting to force any reductions to entitlement spending, making it almost certain that if the GOP goes ahead with such changes, they will be doing so without any Democratic support — and exposing themselves to attacks on the campaign trail.

While McConnell said Thursday that he was confident the GOP would keep the Senate majority after the 2018 elections because fewer Republican seats are in play, he warned that “the map alone doesn’t guarantee the outcome.”

 

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Wine time!
47of74

Rand Paul  celebrating Festivus

Quote

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Saturday celebrated Festivus with a series of tweets airing his grievances against various political figures.

The fake holiday, which was the focus of a “Seinfeld” episode, involves airing grievances against those who have been disappointments through the year.

"Good morning, #Festivus celebrants and twitter! Today, I will have an #AiringofGrievances to wish you a #HappyFestivus," Paul tweeted Saturday morning.

He also had a grievance with former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), questioning how the Nevada Democrat never told him "about the aliens."

And someone beat me to the obvious question....

 

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AmazonGrace

Of course Hatch either didn't read it or he trusts that none of his supporters can read either.

 

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GrumpyGran
4 hours ago, AmazonGrace said:

Of course Hatch either didn't read it or he trusts that none of his supporters can read either.

 

Is he seriously trying to convince people that he's not an arrogant, out-of-touch, bigoted, racist old white man? Hahahaha, nice try, Lurch.

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GreyhoundFan

@AmazonGrace-- Thank you for posting about the Utahn of the Year. What an idiot. My mom and I have been giggling about it since you posted.

On another note, it's about damned time: "Democrats Leave Few Seats Unchallenged in Quest for House Control"

Spoiler

WASHINGTON — Representative Pete Sessions, a veteran Republican, was re-elected to his affluent Dallas-area House seat in 2016 with 71 percent of the vote, the remaining 29 percent split between the Libertarian and Green Party candidates.

Hillary Clinton won the district by three percentage points, but no Democratic candidate even showed up to ride her coattails.

In 2018, there will be 10.

Federal Election Commission filings show that if a wave crashes on the Republican House majority in November, as many have predicted, Democratic surfers will be on their boards to catch it. Nearly a year out from the election, Democratic candidates have filed in all but 20 House districts held by Republicans. By comparison, Democrats in 80 districts do not have a Republican opponent for their seat.

The Democrats are not just filing to run in districts where Mrs. Clinton performed well. They are also running for conservative seats that were uncontested in 2016 and where Republicans remain heavy favorites, in states like Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska.

Four Democrats — a farmer, a soccer coach, an immigration lawyer and a health care consultant — are on the primary ballot in Illinois’ 16th District, a C-shaped district outside Chicago running from Wisconsin to the Indiana border. The Republican incumbent, Representative Adam Kinzinger, ran unopposed in 2016, when President Trump won the district by 17 points. Mr. Kinzinger is not high on anyone’s endangered list.

But Democrats are clamoring to enter the ring.

“I started seeing changes to U.S. policy that concern me,” said Sara Dady, one of the candidates. “I’ve been practicing immigration law under three administrations. I have a client who has a green card. He did everything right. He was denied boarding. To me that is not the America I know and love.”

Democrats are investing in candidates like Ms. Dady. She attended three trainings before declaring her candidacy, including events hosted by the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association and Representative Cheri Bustos, who represents another Illinois district.

For Democrats in 2018’s long-shot districts, the 2017 special elections provided some hope — at least on the financial front. Jon Ossoff raised a record $30 million in his unsuccessful bid in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. And Doug Jones brought in nearly $12 million as of late November on the way to victory in Alabama’s Senate race.

Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Jones’s campaign funds were primarily from small-dollar donors, many of them from outside the district. It is unclear whether those donors will be able to maintain the pace in an election where every seat is up. They will have a formidable opponent in the Congressional Leadership Fund, a “super PAC” that supports Republican candidates and can raise unlimited money. The Congressional Leadership Fund raised more than $12 million in 2017, mostly from a few donations measured in the hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars.

The Republican National Committee has also built up a war chest of $40 million, compared with $6 million for the Democrats.

Even with the political wind at their backs, most Democratic challengers will be underdogs.

“Incumbents have a lot of built-in advantages,” said Michael Beckel of the bipartisan campaign finance reform group Issue One. “They have higher name recognition, and they can spend a lot of time building up a huge campaign war chest to ward off opponents. Additionally, interest groups in Washington are incentivized to bet on incumbents.”

But at least the Democrats have the candidates.

“If you have a candidate running,” Mr. Beckel said, “your odds of picking up seats increases.”

I hope it's a tidal wave of Democrats winning in November.

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Howl

This might belong in the Russia thread, but it's more about Congress critters: 

I'm getting even more concerned over the increasingly unhinged fever-swamp rhetoric that's leaking like a miasma out of nut case Congressional gas bags.  The most recent, from the guy you've never heard of (Francis Rooney, R-Mental), is calling for a purge of "deep state" elements at the FBI and DoJ.  Let me hazard a wild guess: deep state elements would be those who are working with Mueller.  

GOP CONGRESSMAN WANTS TO "PURGE" FBI AND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OF 'DEEP STATE'

Here's an interesting rumination on what "deep state" has meant to the Left and the Right over time:  The Deep State Is Real, But it might not be what you think (MICHAEL CROWLEY, September/October 2017, Politico)

I can't see a downside for Trump leaving.  If Trump were to hit the highway (impeachment, sorry Melania -- heart attack in the saddle, collapse under the sheer wonderfulness of MAGA), Pence would take over, leaving conservatives and evangelicals wetting themselves with excitement because he's viable for 2020 in a way that Trump clearly is not.  They've already done the big business giveaway free for all (tax deform), they've deregulated almost everything that can be deregulated, they've installed the worst possible picks for executive-level Cabinet positions and on and on; most of the damage that can be done, has been done.  Were Trump to exit stage right, along with his retinue, all the high-profile Russia issues (to some extent) would go with him, unless Pence is implicated in some way.  

I guess Social security and MediCare remain on Paul Ryan's scorched earth wish list, but they may very well wrap that up in the coming year. 

But Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo disagrees with my thinking on this:  The Trump-True GOP

Quote

Note that the calls for a “purge” of the FBI and DOJ are becoming more explicit, actually using the word “purge” and moving from the right-wing publications to sitting members of Congress. A small part of this is simple partisanship, what threatens the leader of your political party is bad and needs to be attacked. But what we’re seeing goes far, far beyond that and can only be explained by the Republican right’s broader embrace of authoritarianism, which both predates Trump, accounts for his rise and has in turn been accelerated by his presidency. 

This point is critical to remember. Trump’s flouting of democratic norms during the campaign was a core element, perhaps the core element, of his appeal. Support for Trump certainly wasn’t in spite of this. Nor was it incidental. We focus on Trump’s antics. They remain erratic and unbridled. But equally important, probably more important, is the absence of any overriding respect for the rule of law or democratic norms among his supporters. Functionally that means the entire Republican party, even if individual Republican officeholders may express a muted displeasure.

Rand Paul now seems to be on board with the anti-“deep state” critique of the Russia probe and the FBI. So does Lindsey Graham. It’s not that I see either man as a paragon of democratic virtues. But neither was a major or conspicuous Trump supporter. And neither seems particularly in need of his support for their own political future. Paul isn’t up for reelection again until 2022. They’re falling in line as Trump-True members of the GOP is a sign of the degree to which allegiance to Trump personally is now the standard of membership in the GOP. For months pundits claimed that the success of tax reform, rather than cementing Trump’s political power in the GOP would actually be his undoing since Republicans would no longer have any need for him.

This was always a flawed reasoning. Republicans never ‘needed’ Donald Trump. A big tax cut was probably easier – certainly no less difficult – with a Jeb Bush or a Marco Rubio or any other 2016 Republican on offer. Republicans rallied to Trump because their voters demanded it. The current moment confirms this. Republicans got their tax cut. Far from slackening, their loyalty to Trump, not just in conventional political terms but against the criminal justice system itself is intensifying.

 

Edited by Howl

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GrumpyGran
1 hour ago, Howl said:

I can't see a downside for Trump leaving. 

thanks for this @Howl. My thinking exactly. They would be better off getting rid of him now. It maybe that they still need to discredit the investigation and the FBI because they have something on Pence.

I just can't see them convincing moderate Republicans that Dumpy is their guy. The sudden overwhelming love doesn't make sense.

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fraurosena
4 hours ago, GrumpyGran said:

It maybe that they still need to discredit the investigation and the FBI because they have something on Pence.

Oh, not only do they have something on Pence (I have said this before, and I'll keep saying that I am quite sure he's part and parcel of the Russian connection - no way did he not know about Flynn or any of the other things going on during the transition as he was the head of it) but I am now convinced that the Russians/the presidunce have/has dirt on a lot of Repugliklans. Because we should not forget that it wasn't only the DNC that was hacked. The Russians also got into the RNC. 

However, I actually came here to post something else. Although at first glance it may seem to be a separate subject, it does tie into the above rather neatly. :pb_wink:

Question Posed: How Did Bob Corker Go from ‘Dead Broke’ to $69 Million Net Worth During 11 Years in U.S. Senate?

Quote

“How do you increase your net worth by 69 million dollars while you’re working full-time as a Senator?” That’s the question Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi asked about Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) on Friday.

Neither Taibbi nor Rolling Stone are fans of Corker (or of President Trump, Republicans, or conservatism in general). And Rolling Stone has had problems of its own, recently, as has Taibbi.

Nonetheless, Taibbi puts a fine point on what many political watchers across the Volunteer State have been asking for years.

... >graph with financial details<

Federal campaign contributions and lobbying data tracker Open Secrets has perhaps the most jawdropping illustration of Corker’s rise to wealth.

As Rolling Stone’s Taibbi writes, “Corker didn’t just enter the Senate without any money. He entered it carrying, according to his own disclosure forms, a mountain range of huge loans.”

Setting the stage for his ‘promotion’ from Chattanooga Mayor to U.S. Senator, Taibbi writes of Tennessee’s junior senator:

"Corker took office in January, 2007, during the last gasp of the Bush/Rove political juggernaut. The Iraq war had gone south and the Republicans had just been routed in midterms. The financial crisis was just around the corner. And nobody paid attention to the smooth-talking freshman Senator from Tennessee, who turned out to have some financial issues. . .

It wasn’t until Corker took office and filled out disclosure forms that his finances became public – sort of. Few in the media seem ever to have read the “liabilities” section of Corker’s first disclosure, where the former mayor and construction magnate listed a series of massive outstanding loans. At the low end, Corker appeared to owe a hair-raising $24.2 million. At the high end, $120.5 million.

He took office in debt to some of the nation’s biggest lenders – including somewhere between $12 million and $60 million in debt to GE Capital alone.

Corker had been a construction magnate in Tennessee before taking office, a sort of mini-Trump. Before he ran for office, he sold off his business to a local developer named Henry Luken."

Corker insists that the debts associated with the business were included in the transaction, however his financial disclosures seem to conflict with that assertion.

"Corker tested the limits of the profiteering possibilities in the legislative branch, essentially becoming a full-time day-trader who did a little Senator-ing in his spare time.

In the first nine months of 2007, Corker made an incredible 1,200 trades, over four per day, including 332 over a two-day period."

Followed a few paragraphs later by:

"By 2014, when Corker sat on the Senate Banking Committee, a position that gave him regular access to prime information about the future direction of the markets, the Tennessee Senator still had his foot on the gas. He made 930 stock trades that year."

The brazen trades – and their frequency – went generally unnoticed, but for the occasional ethics watchdogs who would cry foul from time to time. Anne Weismann is one such individual that Taibbi found, who, as the director of the Campaign for Accountability, filed a complaint in 2015.

“Senator Corker’s trades followed a consistent pattern,” Weissman said in the Campaign for Accountability’s statement about their filing. “He bought low and sold high. It beggars belief to suggest these trades – netting the senator and his family millions – were mere coincidences.”

The statement highlights some specific, lucrative activities, noting:

"Many of Sen. Corker’s profitable trades were made in advance of his broker, UBS, issuing reports impacting CBL’s trading price.

Sen. Corker recently amended his filings to reveal a 2009 purchase of between $1 and $5 million of CBL stock, sold just five months later in 2010 at a 42% profit. Similarly, Sen. Corker made purchases worth between $3 and $15 million in 2010 and, just after his last trade, UBS said it was upgrading its outlook. The stock went up 18%. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Corker began selling; a week later, UBS downgraded the stock and the share price soon declined about 10%."

Corker spokesperson Micah Johnson is quoted by the Rolling Stone’s Taibbi about the complaint(s) saying: “they were ‘yet another baseless accusation by this political special interest group. These claims are categorically false and nothing more than a smear campaign. When amending the senator’s financial disclosure report, our office worked directly with the Senate Ethics Committee to ensure items were reported accurately and in line with Senate guidelines.”

The Rolling Stone article is not the only press report involving questions about Corker’s investments.

“A real-estate firm that has been a favored investment of Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker is under investigation by federal law-enforcement officials for alleged accounting fraud, according to people familiar with the matter,” The Wall Street Journal reported in March 2016:

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission are focusing their examination of CBL & Associates Properties Inc. on whether officials at the Chattanooga, Tenn., company falsified information on financial statements to banks when applying for financing arrangements, the people said. Law-enforcement officials have talked to former CBL employees who allege the company inflated its rental income and its properties’ occupancy rates when reporting those figures to banks, the people said.

The FBI and SEC officials have also separately asked questions about the relationship between the company and Mr. Corker, who is close with senior executives at the firm and has made millions of dollars in profits trading the company’s stock in recent years. Authorities don’t believe that Mr. Corker was involved in the company’s potential accounting issues, but they are interested in learning more about the senator’s trading in CBL’s stock, the people said.

They have found no evidence to suggest that Mr. Corker has committed wrongdoing."

In another matter, The Tennessee Star reported earlier this year that concerns about ongoing investigations looking into an extremely profitable real estate transaction in a Mobile, Alabama retail center may have contributed to Corker’s decision to not seek re-election. The Star’s own Editor-in-Chief Michael Patrick Leahy wrote a series of investigative reports for Breitbart News that detailed the senator’s Alabama sweetheart deal.

You can read the full Rolling Stone article at: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-bob-corker-corrupt-what-a-surprise-w514493

2

Now, to tie this all back to the first paragraph in this post: here we have a prime example of the kind of dirt that the Russians/the presidunce may have, and hold over R-Congressmen. And that's why they're all jumping through hoops doing his bidding and nauseatingly praising the presidunce like simpering sycophants.

Edited by fraurosena
forgot the letter d after an
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GreyhoundFan

Please, Rufus, make this be true: "Republicans’ failure on health care is even greater than they realize"

Spoiler

President Trump is under the impression that he just repealed the Affordable Care Act, an illusion for which he will receive much well-deserved mockery. The truth, however, is that he and the Republican Congress have made a dramatic impact on the future of American health care, not to mention health-care politics. With every step they take, the arrival of a universal government health insurance system gets closer.

Let’s begin here:

... < twitler's idiotic tweet from Monday about repealing the ACA >

Needless to say, repealing the individual mandate does not repeal the ACA; most of the law’s provisions are still in place. Does the president actually believe that Democrats and Republicans are going to come together to pass a health-care plan? Who knows. Perhaps he has a firm grasp on the politics of the moment but is trying to give Americans hope for a future of bipartisan cooperation. Or perhaps he is as much a fool as he appears. It also might be that he knows full well that he hasn’t repealed the ACA, but finds political utility in proclaiming victory when his actual repeal effort was such a spectacular failure.

But as Robert Pear of the New York Times notes, the elimination of the individual mandate has the effect of making the ACA more of a government insurance plan than it was under Barack Obama:

In short, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is becoming more like what conservatives despise — government-run health care — thanks in part to Republican efforts that are raising premiums for people without government assistance and allowing them to skirt coverage.

By ending the tax penalty for people who do not have coverage, beginning in 2019, Republicans may hasten the flight of customers who now pay the full cost of their insurance. Among those left behind under the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act would be people of modest means who qualify for Medicaid or receive sizable subsidies for private insurance.

On the whole, that’s a bad thing, since premiums will rise even more quickly and more people will be uninsured. But those with low incomes will be getting free or low-cost insurance courtesy of the government, which everyone else will continue to notice. We wind up with a system made up of 1) people who get coverage from the government and are happy with it; 2) people who get coverage from their employers, and like the coverage but don’t like the cost; 3) a small number of people who pay the full cost of private coverage, which is increasingly unaffordable; and 4) people who are uninsured and wish they could get on a government plan such as Medicare or Medicaid.

You can imagine an alternate universe in which instead of going hellbent for repeal, Republicans made a decision to embrace some modest fixes to the ACA and expand opportunities for private coverage. Had they done that, the pressure to move to a universal government program might have been sapped. Instead, Republicans failed to kill the ACA but did just enough damage to it to give Democrats the opening to go much further.

And go further they will. Every Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 will present some kind of universal plan, which many of them will call “single payer” (even if none of them are likely to actually be true single payer). The Democratic base has moved to the left on this issue, no longer willing to accept technocratic tweaks to the existing system. And thanks to Republicans, the broader public seems more ready to hear proposals for universal coverage built on government insurance. The more those ideas get debated by mainstream Democratic figures (i.e. not just Sen. Bernie Sanders), the more it seems like a reasonable policy alternative.

Think for a moment about what that 2020 primary debate is going to be like. It will probably resemble 2008, in which the major candidates had very similar plans but disagreed on the details. By the time their debate was over, a rough consensus had been reached, and Obama and the party had a mandate to pursue that version of health-care reform once they took office (or if you like, had no choice but to do it). In 2020, the candidates will be arguing not about whether we need universal coverage but about exactly how to get it. There may be some advocating “Medicare for all,” while others will propose hybrid systems that keep private insurance in place but still greatly expand government’s role.

Trump and other Republicans will shout that the Democrats are proposing socialist schemes that will give bureaucrats control of your health care, but whatever shred of credibility they had with the public on this issue has withered away. And they won’t be offering any substantive alternative, because as the past year has proved, they’re constitutionally incapable of thinking seriously about health care.

That was their political problem as well. Not only couldn’t they come up with a reasonable plan to replace the ACA; they couldn’t even come up with a political plan to repeal it. They assumed that they could toss around some empty rhetoric about “patient-centered” insurance and the magic of the free market, and no one would notice that they wanted to snatch coverage from tens of millions of Americans. It was doomed from the start.

And now Republicans have created the worst of all possible worlds, at least from where they sit. They’ve only made Americans more insecure about their health care, they’ve pushed the Democratic Party to the left, and they’ve brought the arrival of a universal system based on government insurance closer than it ever was. Who says the Trump presidency hasn’t produced important achievements?

 

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