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Updated: 2017-12-12T03:42:48Z

 



GOP Turns to Decades-Old Lies to Sell New Tax Scam

2017-12-12T03:42:48Z

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and that's our target market." That perversion of Abraham Lincoln's timeless adage might as well be the slogan of the modern Republican Party, especially when the topic is taxes....

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and that's our target market." That perversion of Abraham Lincoln's timeless adage might as well be the slogan of the modern Republican Party, especially when the topic is taxes. After all, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Joint Committee on Taxation, (JCT), the Wharton School, the Tax Policy Center and a host of think tanks have concluded that the GOP tax bill will produce between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion in additional debt over the next decade. But if "tax cut pay for themselves" is a cynical myth designed to force deep spending cuts in the future, so too is the notion that the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" (TCJA) produces either tax relief or jobs for lower- to middle-income Americans. It's no wonder that Republicans from Maine Sen. Susan Collins to House Speaker Paul Ryan have been struggling to manufacture lists of conservative economists to vouch for their voodoo.

But more appalling than the grotesque GOP disinformation campaign itself is the Republican regurgitation of decades-old lies to sell it. The GOP's best and brightest have been peddling the same fiscal fantasies since supply-side snake oil salesman Arthur Laffer first sketched his magical Curve on a cocktail napkin for Team Reagan in the 1970s. The passage of time has not made the GOP falsehoods any more true.

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Consider, for example, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, McConnell declared himself "totally confident" that the TCJA passed by the Senate will not add to the deficit, adding:

"I think it's going to be a revenue producer."

Now, there's no need to stop me if you think you've heard this one before; you have. That's because back in 2010, then-Minority Leader McConnell used the same talking point to defend the extension of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 for the richest Americans. Defending that windfall for the wealthy that would drain $70 billion annually from the United States Treasury, the No.2 Senate Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona proclaimed, "You should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans." McConnell rushed to Kyl's defense, announcing that his fiscal fraud was in fact now Republican orthodoxy:

"There's no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject."

But then as now, Republican agreement on that view doesn't make it a fact. History tells us so. And that history starts, it turns out, with Ronald Reagan's arrival in the White House in 1981.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Trump's Golden Showers

2017-12-04T18:39:36Z

Donald Trump and his Republican allies have two definitions of the term, "golden showers." The first concerns a notorious--and as-yet unsubstantiated--claim from the so-called Russian dossier: Decorum prohibits elaborating further here. The second meaning of the term, however, describes any... Donald Trump and his Republican allies have two definitions of the term, "golden showers." The first concerns a notorious--and as-yet unsubstantiated--claim from the so-called Russian dossier: Decorum prohibits elaborating further here. The second meaning of the term, however, describes any public policy--usually involving taxes--which overwhelmingly delivers its benefits to the very richest people in America. The plutocratic pleasure from this right-wing fetish is all the more ecstatic if raining cash on the gilded-class can be sold under the guise of winnings for workers. So it is with the supposed "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" (TCJA) Republicans in both houses of Congress have been trying to rush largely unseen to President Trump's desk. This $1.5 trillion, 10-year liquid gold waterfall for the wealthy doesn't trickle down to average Americans. Instead, its new income tax brackets, elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), steep reductions in corporate taxes, bonanza for "pass-through" businesses and abolition of the estate tax guarantee the richest investors and financially-favored families will take all--or, at least, almost all. Now, you wouldn't know any of this from the myth-making generated by the Trump White House and the usual suspects among right-wing economists. As Lawrence Summers and Brad Delong among others explained, GOP claims that "the Republican bills could boost GDP 3% to 4% long term" and "American annual household income could increase by an average of $4,000" are belied by history, the clear consensus of economists. After all, the strong 3.3 percent GDP number for the third quarter and low unemployment shows the Obama expansion has continued uninterrupted. Ten years after the start of the 2007 recession, actual U.S. economic output has finally reached its full potential. With interest rates low, corporate profits high and U.S. firms sitting on stacks of cash, capital stocks are simply not an issue. Nevertheless, Republicans want to slash the statutory corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. (It is worth noting that President Obama repeatedly proposed lowering it to 28 percent; Republicans in Congress balked.) Thanks to a wide range of tax breaks they already enjoy, American businesses face an effective tax rate of 18.6 percent, a figure comparable to most U.S. economic competitors. That's why, as Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, "Major companies including Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. say they'll turn over most gains from proposed corporate tax cuts to their shareholders, undercutting President Donald Trump's promise that his plan will create jobs and boost wages for the middle class." That doesn't square with Trump's promise this week in Missouri that "our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mailrooms and the machine shops of America." Instead of hiring more workers or raising their pay, many companies say they'll first increase dividends or buy back their own shares. Robert Bradway, chief executive of Amgen Inc., said in an Oct. 25 earnings call that the company has been "actively returning capital in the form of growing dividend and buyback and I'd expect us to continue that." Executives including Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, Pfizer Chief Financial Officer Frank D'Amelio and Cisco CFO Kelly Kramer have recently made similar statements. "We'll be able to get much more aggressive on the share buyback" after a tax cut, Kramer said in a Nov. 16 interview. John Shin, a foreign exchange strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, explained those unsurprising views: "Companies are sitting on large amounts of cash. They're not financially constrained. They're still working for their shareholders, primarily." Shin should know. Cont[...]



GOP Tax plan is the Worst Jobs Bill Ever

2017-11-28T19:26:52Z

With apologies to Benjamin Disraeli, there are three kinds of lies Republicans are telling about their tax plan: lies, damned lies, and f**king lies. Constraints of space and time preclude listing them all, but here is a handful of the...

With apologies to Benjamin Disraeli, there are three kinds of lies Republicans are telling about their tax plan: lies, damned lies, and f**king lies.

Constraints of space and time preclude listing them all, but here is a handful of the GOP's most farfetched falsehoods. For example, earlier this month House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) repeatedly promised "it's a tax cut for everybody ... every single person, every rate payer, every bracket person gets a rate cut." When the Washington Post Fact Checker published a Four Pinocchio beat-down of this bunk, Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) beat a hasty retreat. Despite the hemorrhage of red ink produced by the Reagan and Bush tax cuts, Trump White House economic adviser Gary Cohn bragged, We think we can pay for the entire tax cut through growth over the cycle," a point echoed by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on November 13. The 10-year, $1.5 trillion windfall for the wealthy will "not only ... pay for itself," Mnuchin boasted, "but it will pay down debt" as well. Unfortunately, analyses from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the Wharton School, the Tax Policy Center (TPC) and even the conservative friendly Tax Foundation (TF) concluded otherwise. And even without seeing the president's past tax returns, we know that Donald Trump was lying through his teeth when he said the GOP tax plan was "going to cost me a fortune" and that his own finances were "going to get killed in this bill."

So, neither the House nor the Senate versions of the GOP's "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" (TCJA) does a very good job of actually delivering tax cuts, except to corporations and the wealthiest people in America. But as it turns out, the TCJA doesn't do much to create jobs, either.

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Of course, you'd never know it listening to Paul Ryan. On November 3, the speaker's website issued this update: "BREAKING: Analysis Finds House Tax Plan Would Create 890,000 New Jobs." Citing the analysis by the reliably right-leaning Tax Foundation, Team Ryan crowed that over the ensuing decade, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would result in "890,000 more full-time equivalent jobs, 3.5 percent increase in size of the U.S. Economy [and] 2.7 percent higher wages for workers. (The Tax Foundation's assessment of the Senate bill put the employment gain at 925,000 over 10 years.) On November 7, Ryan excitedly tweeted the jobs number again, this time conveniently rounding up:

Nearly 1 million new, full-time jobs will be created by the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. See how many jobs will be created in your state.

Then on November 16, the same day the House of Representatives narrowly passed his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Speaker Ryan took to the floor to declare:

"Let me just break it down in simple numbers. The nonpartisan tax foundation ran the numbers. They said with this bill, we'll get faster growth, about 3.5 percent faster economic growth, 890,000 new jobs. They estimate that in New York state alone, 57,834 new jobs. Wisconsin: 17,999 new jobs. California: 101,422 new jobs. Texas: 74,037 new jobs."

Now, if you are experiencing a queasy sensation (or feeling, as James Comey might describe it, "mildly nauseous") because that jobs number seems pathetically low, that's because it is.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Abortion Rights and Free Speech Wrongs

2017-11-21T18:59:46Z

The United States Supreme Court this week announced it would soon hear a major case that could redefine the legal landscape at the critical juncture where abortion rights meet free speech. In National Institute of Life and Family Advocates v....

The United States Supreme Court this week announced it would soon hear a major case that could redefine the legal landscape at the critical juncture where abortion rights meet free speech. In National Institute of Life and Family Advocates v. Becerra, the plaintiffs are challenging a California statute regulating so-called "crisis pregnancy centers."

After concluding that the Golden State's 200 pregnancy resource centers used "intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices that often confuse, misinform, and even intimidate women from making fully-informed, time-sensitive decisions about critical health care," the New York Times reported, the legislature in Sacramento required these anti-abortion counseling services to post a notice letting clients know that "free or low cost abortion, contraception and prenatal care are available to low-income women through public programs, and to provide a phone number for more information." In addition, the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act (FACT Act) mandates that all unlicensed centers disclose their lack of accreditation from the state. And that, attorneys for 110 CPCs operated by the faith-based Christian ministry of National Institute of Life and Family Advocates argue, amounts to unconstitutional "compelled speech."

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As it turns out, the claim that California law violates their First Amendment rights is more than a little ironic. After all, across the nation hundreds of new state abortion restrictions doubtless supported by the plaintiffs run roughshod over the freedom of speech by physicians and abortion clinics. That is, while California is mandating that crisis pregnancy centers simply tell women the truth about their services, GOP-led states are demanding that doctors lie to their patients about supposed "fetal pain," mythical "abortion regret," nonexistent side-effects, and so much more.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Vergangenheits-bewältigung in America

2017-11-14T01:26:42Z

This year represents the 25th anniversary of one of the great enduring memes of modern American culture and politics. In his thundering speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, former Nixon hatchet man and Adolf Hitler admirer-turned GOP presidential candidate...

This year represents the 25th anniversary of one of the great enduring memes of modern American culture and politics. In his thundering speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, former Nixon hatchet man and Adolf Hitler admirer-turned GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan darkly warned of a "cultural war" already underway, one he deemed a "struggle for the soul of America." After Buchanan concluded by proclaiming that "block by block ... we must take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country," the late humorist Molly Ivins joked:

Many people did not care for Buchanan's speech. It probably sounded better in the original German.

And so it was that Buchanan's kulturekampf spawned a generation of tongue-in-cheek declarations that various right-wing policies, programs and politicians--including Donald Trump--"sounded better in the original German." (For examples of such assessments of Mein Drumpf, see here, here and here.) In some cases, the translation was literal. As Scott Horton documented in Harper's in 2007, long before the Bush administration began using "enhanced interrogation techniques" as a euphemism for its regime of detainee torture, the Gestapo in 1937 introduced the original German verschärfte Vernehmung (which means "enhanced interrogation techniques") into its lexicon of savagery.

But all snark aside, recent developments in the United States show the urgent need for an Americanized version of a German term central to the understanding of Deutschland and Europe since 1945. Vergangenheitsbewältigung (pronunciation here), variously defined as "coming to terms with" or "overcoming" or simply "confronting" the past, describes the ongoing, painful process by which Germans grapple with the inescapable, horrific crimes committed by Adolf Hitler and the nation's Nazi Third Reich.

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But while the symbols, likenesses, and ideology of the perpetrators of the conquest of Europe and Holocaust are beyond the pale in Germany, in the United States a much different approach guides Americans' attitudes toward our original sin--and world-historic crime--of slavery and the Civil War fought to eradicate it. Here, many whitewash the obvious cause of that war, traffic in antebellum nostalgia, and venerate statues erected to the traitors who in the service of perpetual human bondage killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. So, when the president of the United States calls for protecting "our great statues/heritage" and his chief of staff--a four-star American general at that--calls Robert E. Lee "honorable" and chalks up his blood-drenched treachery to a mere "lack of compromise," something about America's present is very, very wrong, indeed.

That point was driven home to me during and after my recent trip to Berlin.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




GOP Tax Plan Delivers Double Dose of Pain to Blue States

2017-11-03T18:10:34Z

Thursday's release of the House GOP tax plan will be greeted with a flurry of "hot takes" about its "winners and losers." So, for everyone's sake, let's keep this simple. Unsurprisingly, the biggest winners from what the President called a...

Thursday's release of the House GOP tax plan will be greeted with a flurry of "hot takes" about its "winners and losers." So, for everyone's sake, let's keep this simple. Unsurprisingly, the biggest winners from what the President called a "big, beautiful Christmas present" are people named Trump and those like them. Just as predictable, the real losers are the tens of millions of Americans who live in blue states generally governed by Democrats.

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As I've documented previously, Donald Trump's 2015 boast that his tax plan would "cost me a fortune" was a lie from the moment it passed his lips. We know the abolition of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will be a huge windfall for Trump; it accounted for 82 percent of his $38 million tax bill in 2005, the only year for which we've seen even partial IRS records. Slashing the tax rate to 25 percent for "pass-through" businesses is another payday for the Trump Organization, which happens to be comprised of 500 of them. And the phase-out of the estate tax after six years means the Trump heirs will get to keep all the candy--and billions of dollars--after Donald Sr. passes from the scene.

But if Donald Trump is smiling about his winnings, he and most Republicans in Congress are downright gleeful at the blue state bashing their tax bill will deliver. Halving the cap on the mortgage interest deduction from million-dollars homes to just $500,000 means taxpayers in high-cost housing markets generally found in affluent Democratic states like California, New York and Massachusetts will get hammered. Perhaps even more damaging, ending the federal deduction for state and local taxes means Republicans on Capitol Hill will force fiscal austerity on high-tax, high-service Democratic states.

Writing in New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore explained the brutal math for blue state homeowners:

According to the most recent (2012-2014) available data, here are the locales where over 30 percent of new mortgages are over $500,000: Marin, C.A. (47 percent), New York, N.Y. (46 percent), San Francisco, C.A. (46 percent), San Mateo, C.A. (43 percent), Falls Church City, V.A. (37 percent), Santa Clara, C.A. (36 percent), and Arlington, V.A. (32 percent). That's Manhattan plus metropolitan San Francisco and Washington. But the damage to blue state budgets will be even greater if the pernicious GOP scheme to end the state and local tax deduction (SALT) comes to fruition. Even exempting property taxes up to $10,000 still means states from Oregon and California to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will be pressured to cut taxes, reduce spending or both.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




For the Party of Lincoln, Everything is "Worse Than Dred Scott"

2017-10-31T17:40:50Z

On Dec. 12, Alabamans will go to the polls in a special election to determine the replacement for Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now Donald Trump's hatchet man at the Justice Department. Despite Republican control of every statewide office, there...

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On Dec. 12, Alabamans will go to the polls in a special election to determine the replacement for Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now Donald Trump's hatchet man at the Justice Department. Despite Republican control of every statewide office, there is a remote chance the "Heart of Dixie" may send a Democrat to the Senate for the first time in 25 years. This possible pick-up for the blue team has less to do with a resurgence of the Democratic Party there and the strong performance of its candidate, Doug Jones, than with the growing unease over the GOP's extremist nominee, Roy Moore. As Andy Campbell reported, "Nobody really likes Roy Moore--not even Alabama Republicans."

It's no surprise why, as one anonymous pastor put it, "Nobody feels good about Roy Moore." After all, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was twice removed from his post for flouting the law of the land, first over the display of a Ten Commandments monument in his court house and in 2016 for refusing to enforce the marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. A vocal opponent of removing segregationist language from the Alabama Constitution, Moore, like former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, reached out to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. In 2005, Moore proclaimed "homosexual conduct should be illegal." Last December, he professed his "personal belief" that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. While brandishing his gun during a rally may have endeared him to some GOP primary voters, revelations that Moore did not pay taxes on $500,000 in back pay from his Foundation for Moral Law probably did not.

Nevertheless, a growing number of Senate Republicans, including the GOP's No. 2 man John Cornyn of Texas, have endorsed Roy Moore. The Republican National Committee (RNC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) have announced a fundraising pact with Moore and the Alabama GOP. In part, they doubtless did so because of--not despite--one of the very worst things Judge Moore ever uttered. After all, in November Moore denounced the Supreme Court's ruling establishing marriage equality for LGBT Americans as the law of the land as "even worse" than the 1857 Dred Scott abomination upholding slavery and denying citizenship rights to blacks. As it turns out, Roy Moore has plenty of company among Republicans comparing same-sex marriage, Obamacare, habeas corpus rights for terror detainees, the national debt, abortion, and almost everything else they hate to slavery and therefore "even worse than Dred Scott."

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Trump Administration Unveils the "Fetal 14th Amendment"

2017-10-23T03:53:58Z

While most eyes this week were on the carnage in Las Vegas, the catastrophe in Puerto Rico, or the dangerous provocations towards Pyongyang and Tehran, the Trump administration was hard at work deconstructing the 14th Amendment to the United States...

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While most eyes this week were on the carnage in Las Vegas, the catastrophe in Puerto Rico, or the dangerous provocations towards Pyongyang and Tehran, the Trump administration was hard at work deconstructing the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. While that bulwark of American civil rights promises "due process of law" and "equal protection of the laws" to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States," Donald Trump has declared that some persons are more equal than others.

For starters, two years after Justice Kennedy ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the constitutionally-protected right to marry extends to LGBTQ Americans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions began turning back the clock at the Justice Department. DOJ's "Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty" signaled that the faith-based sensitivities of some religious people should literally trump the marriage rights, workplace protections, and other 14th Amendment guarantees for gay and lesbian Americans. By signing an executive order allowing any business to deny contraceptive coverage to its female employees, Donald Trump codified that when it comes to health care, women are left out of the 14th's American freedoms, too.

But this week, Trump's Department of Health and Human Services proposed extending the 14th Amendment to a new group. And as Dr. Jen Gunter pointed out, these would-be beneficiaries aren't persons at all.

In the draft of its "Strategic Plan, FY2018 - FY2022" now under review, HHS has unilaterally adopted what might be called the "Fetal Fourteenth."

Organizational Structure

HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception. Eleven operating divisions, including eight agencies in the U.S. Public Health Service and three human services agencies, administer HHS's programs. While HHS is a domestic agency working to protect and promote the health and well-being of the American people, the interconnectedness of our world requires that HHS engage globally to fulfill its mission. In addition, staff divisions provide leadership, direction, and policy guidance to the Department. [Emphasis added.]

If this seems like an unprecedented, unwarranted, and unconstitutional redefinition of the 14th Amendment by the president of the United States, that's because it is. But the strategy of declaring fetal personhood by fiat is nothing new under the conservative sun. Republican platforms and politicians have been proposing it for years.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




WWTP: What Will Trump Pay Under the GOP Tax Bill?

2017-10-23T03:48:43Z

Donald Trump lost the 2016 presidential popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million ballots. But by another seemingly meaningless measure, Trump got clobbered 38 to 0. That lopsided score represents the number of years of tax returns Democrat...

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Donald Trump lost the 2016 presidential popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million ballots. But by another seemingly meaningless measure, Trump got clobbered 38 to 0. That lopsided score represents the number of years of tax returns Democrat Clinton and Republican Trump respectively released to the American public.

But Trump's unprecedented opacity--for the past 40 years no major party presidential candidate had withheld his or her tax returns--is about to matter again. (Not that it ever stopped mattering; polls have consistently shown that Trump and his mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway are lying when they claim "people don't care.) That's because this week, the Trump administration and its GOP allies in Congress unveiled their "framework" for tax reform, a multi-trillion-dollar hemorrhage of red ink from the United States Treasury certain to stuff the bank accounts of the wealthiest people in the country. But at a time of record income inequality and GOP calls to slash domestic spending, the Trump tax plan isn't just horrible policy. Give the president's repeated pledges that his tax plan is "going to cost me a fortune," Trump's payday for plutocrats represents a broken promise, too.

That broken promise dates back to the early days of the Trump campaign. In September 2015, the real estate magnate introduced his first tax plan by declaring:

"It reduces or eliminates most of the deductions and loopholes available to special interests and to the very rich. In other words, it's going to cost me a fortune -- which is actually true -- while preserving charitable giving and mortgage interest deductions, very importantly." [Emphasis mine]

Almost two years later, the president on Sept. 13 guaranteed "the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan," adding, "We're looking for the middle class, and we're looking for jobs." And among those rich people, he assured the American people on Sept. 27, was one Donald J. Trump.

"No, I don't benefit. I think there's very little benefit for people of wealth."

Given his record-setting standard for lying to the American people, Donald Trump can only disprove his obvious self-dealing by releasing his tax returns. Decades of them. The message from taxpayers--to borrow from Ronald Reagan--must be: Don't trust, and verify.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




The GOP's Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill is a Killer Scam

2017-09-25T18:54:17Z

Next week, Congressional Republicans will vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill supposedly designed to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. Shockingly, they will do so without a score from Capitol Hill's nonpartisan scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As the office led by...

Next week, Congressional Republicans will vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill supposedly designed to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. Shockingly, they will do so without a score from Capitol Hill's nonpartisan scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As the office led by the GOP's hand-picked director Keith Hall warned last Monday, "CBO will not be able to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks."

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The 54th Massachusetts or Davis, Lee and Jackson? For patriotic Americans, there's only one choice.

Nevertheless, there are many things we already know with a good deal of certainty about this grotesque act of right-wing political spite masquerading as health care legislation. Graham-Cassidy begins by eliminating the individual and employer insurance mandates next year, and repealing the Affordable Care Act's insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion in 2020. The bill then dramatically slashes currently projected Obamacare spending and divvies up what remains as block grants to the states. The states in turn can seek waivers from requiring the coverage of Obamacare's "essential health benefits" (EHB's) and the current ban on discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. Estimates from Avalere Health and CBPP forecast the GOP bill carves between $215 billion and $243 billion from ACA spending over the next decade. But those block grants--which rob billions of dollars from largely Democratic-led, Medicaid-expanding states to those red states which did not--expire at the end of 2026. Unless the bill is reauthorized, the states will lose $299 billion in federal funding in 2027 alone; between 2020 and 2036, the loss is a staggering $4.15 trillion. Based on CBO estimates for similar Republican proposals earlier this year, the Commonwealth Fund warned 32 million people could lose their insurance by 2027.

Oh, and one other thing we can count on: If Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy get their way, thousands of newly uninsured Americans will die needlessly every year. A death toll of roughly 18,000 in the law's first full year could approach 40,000 in 2027. The question is not whether the United States will suffer the equivalent of multiple Sept. 11 attacks every year, but how many.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




State Block Grants: The GOP's Worst Health Care Idea of Them All

2017-09-22T01:41:44Z

Even as the U.S. Census reported that the percentage of Americans lacking health insurance dropped to a new record low of 8.8 percent, the past week was nevertheless a big one for health care reform proposals in Washington. Sen. Bernie...

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Even as the U.S. Census reported that the percentage of Americans lacking health insurance dropped to a new record low of 8.8 percent, the past week was nevertheless a big one for health care reform proposals in Washington. Sen. Bernie Sanders, backed by 15 of his Democratic colleagues, unveiled his "Medicare for All" bill providing one path to universal health care in the United States. But while Democrats were looking to enable insurance coverage for the 28 million people still lacking it, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana pitched their last-gasp Obamacare "replacement" plan to deny coverage to millions more.

After the much-deserved defeats of the GOP's American Health Care Act (AHCA) and Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), Graham and Cassidy are asking their Republican colleagues to try one more time before the Sept. 30 legislative deadline puts an end to their Obamacare repeal dreams. At the heart of the Graham-Cassidy proposal co-sponsored by Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Wisconsin's Ron Johnson is an old idea near and dear to Republican hearts: block grants for the states. That is, the new GOP bill would basically convert today's federal spending on Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion into smaller block grants turned over to the states to administer largely as they see fit. But as the history shows, that is a proven recipe for failure. After all, if "states' rights" is simply short-hand for the denial of Americans' rights, what Lindsey Graham touts as "state flexibility" is just a green light to withhold health care coverage to millions of their residents.

Sen. Graham has made no secret of his objectives. "If you believe in universal health care," Graham boasted on Wednesday, "this is your worst nightmare." He explained why to Breitbart News two weeks ago:

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Trump, GOP Demand Blue State Payback

2017-09-07T18:45:35Z

In recent years, "red state socialism" has become the hallmark of American federalism. That is, even as supposed GOP budget hawks loudly (and wrongly) decry "out of control" spending by Uncle Sam, less well-off Republican-controlled states generally benefit from a...

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In recent years, "red state socialism" has become the hallmark of American federalism. That is, even as supposed GOP budget hawks loudly (and wrongly) decry "out of control" spending by Uncle Sam, less well-off Republican-controlled states generally benefit from a one-way flow of federal tax dollars made possible by wealthier blue states usually dominated by Democrats. But that is as it should be. After all, Americans everywhere should want Americans anywhere to have the resources for the education, health care, and anti-poverty programs they deserve and may badly need. Patriotism, civic duty, community, and compassion don't end at the state line.

That's especially true in times of war, crisis, and natural disaster. When Americans anywhere are in danger, there is no "red" or "blue," but only Red, White and Blue. With the staggering calamity from Hurricane Harvey still unfolding in Texas and Louisiana, first responders and volunteers, charities and church groups, and millions of people from every state and every faith all reaffirmed that shared American ethos.

But back in Washington, the president and some of his GOP allies on Capitol Hill provided a stark contrast to that spirit of selflessness and unity. Gulf state members of Congress, led by Texas Republicans Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, called for billions of dollars in federal aid they voted to deny their blue state brethren after Superstorm Sandy in 2013. At the same time, Donald Trump launched his push for a massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy, a giveaway he and GOP leaders hope to pay for in part by punishing taxpayers and breaking budgets in traditionally Democratic states. Meanwhile, in areas as diverse as health care, immigration, and possibly infrastructure, GOP policymakers are seeking blue state payback as a means of retribution--or just out of pure spite.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




The Capitol's Missing Mural of Lee's Surrender to Grant at Appomattox

2017-09-05T03:43:33Z

The neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville has spurred calls around the nation for the removal of public statues, monuments and symbols venerating white supremacy and the "lost cause" of the Confederacy. Those sites include Capitol Hill, where eight statues of Jefferson... The neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville has spurred calls around the nation for the removal of public statues, monuments and symbols venerating white supremacy and the "lost cause" of the Confederacy. Those sites include Capitol Hill, where eight statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Alexander Stephens and five other traitors to the United States were added between 1909 and 1931 at the behest of their home states. But while Democrats including Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have urged their Republican colleagues to "remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately," Vice President Mike Pence echoed Donald Trump's charge that "they" were attempting "to take away our history and our heritage." "Obviously, I think that should always be a local decision. And with regard to the US Capitol, should be a state decision. I'm someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments." If he is to be taken at his word that "more monuments" help us "remember our history," then Vice President Pence would surely support the installation in the Capitol rotunda of a massive mural depicting Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. That never-completed tribute has been missing from Congress for 148 years due to the obstruction on one man. President Ulysses S. Grant. That's right. As Mark Neely, Jr., Harold Holzer and Gabor S. Boritt explained in The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause, Grant "wholly disapproved of the artists' enterprise" in capturing Lee's capitulation on canvas. When a Congressional commission approach the Northern conqueror soon after the Civil War to propose a painting of Lee's surrender for the Capitol rotunda, Grant refused. He said he would never take part in producing a picture that commemorated a victory in which his fellow countrymen were losers. In 1885, James Grant Wilson documented Grant's deference to Southern sensitivities this way: In 1869, some members of Congress wanted to put a massive painting of Lee surrendering to Grant in the Rotunda of the Capitol. They visited Grant, who was President-elect, to gain his approval. Grant, who was usually calm, got upset and said, "No, gentlemen, it won't do. No power on earth will make me agree to your proposal. I will not humiliate General Lee or our Southern friends in depicting their humiliation and then celebrating the event in the nation's capitol." This immediately ended any discussion of the painting. [Emphasis mine.] This was hardly the only example of Grant's generosity and compassion towards his former enemies. By the time the Army of Northern Virginia laid down its arms at Appomattox, General U.S. Grant had already embraced Lincoln's admonition during the Second Inaugural to offer "malice toward none, with charity for all." By offering such generous terms to Robert E. Lee and his soldiers, Grant begun to "bind up the nation's wounds" and "to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." And to be sure, the respect and dignity Grant accorded Robert E. Lee and his surrendering Army of Northern Virginia was offered despite his disdain for their cause of slavery and secession. As he prepared to accept their capitulation, Grant later wrote of that moment in April 1865: "I felt sad and depressed at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though their cause was, I believe[...]



GOP's top priority? Giving the Trump clan a multi-billion dollar tax cut

2017-08-29T02:41:45Z

Republican leaders in Congress may not be ready to abandon Donald Trump, but there's little doubt about their growing discomfort with the president of the United States. Supposedly shocked by Trump's coddling of white supremacists in the wake of the...

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Republican leaders in Congress may not be ready to abandon Donald Trump, but there's little doubt about their growing discomfort with the president of the United States. Supposedly shocked by Trump's coddling of white supremacists in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker questioned Trump's ability to either the "demonstrate the stability" or "competence" required of presidents. A sheepish House Speaker Paul Ryan told a CNN town hall that Trump "messed up" in his handling of the neo-Nazi thuggery in Virginia and proclaimed, "This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under assault from Trump after the GOP failure to repeal Obamacare, hasn't spoken to the president in weeks and, according to the New York Times, "privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises."

With the summer Congressional recess about to end, the GOP's best and brightest are planning a post-Labor Day payback for the president. His punishment? A massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy that will redirect billions of dollars from the United States Treasury to Donald Trump and his children.

As it turns out, that outcome would represent another broken promise for Donald Trump. Two years ago, candidate Trump unveiled the first of three versions of what would become his tax reform program. (According to analysts, that budget-busting blueprint would generate up to $12 trillion in new national debt in the ensuing decade.) On Sept. 28, 2015, he made this pledge to the American people:

"It reduces or eliminates most of the deductions and loopholes available to special interests and to the very rich. In other words, it's going to cost me a fortune -- which is actually true -- while preserving charitable giving and mortgage interest deductions, very importantly." [Emphasis mine.]

Now even without access to Donald Trump's tax returns, then as now it was impossible for his guarantee to be true. As we'll see below, Trump's is a Four-Pinocchio Lie both because of the way he makes his money and the changes he's proposing to the tax code.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Trump's Willing Supremacists

2017-08-25T23:28:32Z

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Republicans were shocked--SHOCKED--to find that President Trump was providing air cover for neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Declaring "there can be no moral ambiguity," House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted, "White supremacy is...

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In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Republicans were shocked--SHOCKED--to find that President Trump was providing air cover for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Declaring "there can be no moral ambiguity," House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted, "White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for." Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 failed presidential nominee, decried Trump's both-siderism, "One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry." Nevada Sen. Dean Heller hit the keyboard to "condemn the outrageous racism, violence and hatred," calling it "unacceptable and shameful." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham branded the white supremacists behind the murder of Heather Heyer "un-American" and "domestic terrorists" before pledging to "fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world." And Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, still recovering from the severe wounds he sustained in the terror attack against the Congressional Republican baseball team, announced "we must defeat white supremacy and all forms of hatred."

But before rushing to credit these and other Donald Trump allies for standing up to the real racist-in-chief, bear in mind that this is a textbook case of too little, too late. Laudable though these statements are, talk is cheap. After all, in recent years each of the five Republicans listed above had ample opportunities to denounce right-wing terrorism, reject casual race-baiting, and eject white supremacists from the ranks of their party. Yet it was no accident that they were silent and seated when it mattered most. That's because for more than 50 years, the GOP has relied on its "Southern Strategy" combining incendiary racial rhetoric, zealous xenophobia, and even Confederate idolatry to manufacture a terrified and furious white majority, and not just in the Solid South. Until today's "concerned" Republicans cast out Donald Trump and cast off the politics of white resentment, they should get no credit where none is due.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.