PAUL KRUGMAN IN THE NYT: GOP IRATE AT BEING CALLED OUR ON ITS BIG TIME TAX LIES! – The “Anti-Robin –Hood” Party Is In Full Attack Mode! – Screw Everyone Else To Hand Out More Bennies To The Super Rich!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/opinion/lies-incoherence-and-rage-on-tax-cuts.html

Krugman writes:

“One thing you can count on in 21st-century U.S. politics is that Republicans will lie about taxes. They did it under George W. Bush, they did it under Barack Obama and they’re still doing it under Donald Trump.

Yet this time is different. It’s not just that the lies have gotten even more brazen. There’s now a combination of incoherence and rage that we, or at least I, haven’t seen before. These days, they can’t even seem to get their fake story straight — and they literally start yelling obscenities when someone tries to point out the facts.

G.O.P. lies about taxes generally involve two issues: who is hurt or helped by tax changes, and what these changes will do to the budget.

Thus, when George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001 and 2003, he and his party repeatedly insisted that the tax cuts were primarily for the middle class. In fact, while there were some middle-class tax breaks in the package, such as an increase in the child tax credit, these were dwarfed by cuts in tax rates on high incomes, reduced taxes on dividends and repeal of the estate tax. Over all, the richest 1 percent saw a much larger increase in after-tax income than middle-class families did.

At the same time, the Bush administration used a series of gimmicks to hide the true fiscal cost of the plan, such as delaying the implementation of some tax cuts while pretending that others would expire when the actual intention was to make them permanent.

When Obama took office, these tricks were simply flipped on their head. Republicans insisted, falsely, that Obama had imposed a “massive tax increase” on the middle class; in fact, for the most part he actually cut middle-class taxes. Meanwhile, they insisted that the surge in the budget deficit caused by the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis was permanent, and ridiculed the Obama administration’s claims that deficits would fall sharply once crisis spending ended and tax receipts recovered; in fact, that’s exactly what happened.

So what’s different this time? As in the Bush years, Republicans are claiming to be offering a middle-class tax cut. But where Bush truly was cutting taxes on the middle class, just much less than he was on the wealthy, current Republican plans would raise those taxes on many lower- and middle-income families, even as they go down for the wealthy. (Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, claims that only “million-dollar earners”would see tax increases. This is the opposite of the truth.

Oh, and a memo to journalists: If you play it safe by reporting this as “Democrats say” that middle-class taxes will go up, you’re misleading your readers: Those estimates come from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s own nonpartisan scorekeeper.

How can Republicans like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, pretend to be helping the middle class? It depends crucially on a new kind of budget gimmick: Both the House and Senate tax-cut bills do contain some middle-class tax breaks — but only for the first few years. Then they expire.

Take one of Ryan’s favorite examples, a family with two children and earning $59,000 a year. That family would indeed get a tax break next year. But the break would rapidly dwindle and turn into a tax increase by 2024.

The Republican response is to claim that these tax breaks wouldn’t really expire, that Congress would eventually renew them. That’s quite doubtful — and even if true, it means that the tax plans would add much more to the national debt than the G.O.P. admits. Which brings me to the whole budget deficit issue.

Not long ago, leading Republicans claimed to be deeply concerned about budget deficits. Only fools and centrists took the Republicans seriously. Still, the abrupt shift to nonchalance about adding trillions to the debt in order to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy is causing a bit of whiplash even among cynics. How do they justify the shift?

Well, they don’t seem to have settled on a story. Mnuchin keeps asserting that tax cuts will pay for themselves, going so far as to claim (falsely) that Treasury has released a study showing this. Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, cheerfully acknowledges that they’re using gimmicks to pass a bill that permanently cuts taxes on corporations, and not to worry. Whatever works, it seems.

So we’re really looking at an unprecedented level of dishonesty here. But what happens when you try to explain what’s going on? When Senator Sherrod Brown tried to point out, correctly, that the Senate G.O.P.’s tax bill heavily favors the rich, Senator Orrin Hatch exploded, calling it “bull crap” and asserting that he grew up poor (which is relevant why, exactly?).

Sorry, but this isn’t the righteous anger of a man falsely accused of wrongdoing. It’s the rage con men always exhibit when caught out in their con.

But what’s the con about? The very incoherence of the arguments Republicans are making for their plans shows that it’s not about helping the economy, let alone ordinary families. It really is about making the rich richer, at everyone else’s expense. If this be bull crap, make the most of it.”

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As usual, the GOP counts heavily on voters being too biased or gullible to figure out that they are being fleeced. And, to date, they have been correct. So, why stop a “winning strategy” even if it is based on lies, demonstrably bogus assumptions, and other “cons?”

PWS

11-21-17

O CANADA: TRUMP POLICIES AID CANADIAN LOBSTERMEN AT THE EXPENSE OF MAINE! — CANADA BRACES FOR INFLUX OF “TPSers” FLEEING US!

Ana Swanson reports in the NY Times:

“When Americans think about lobster, Maine often comes to mind. But Nova Scotia has emerged as a fierce competitor in exporting lobsters, particularly to Europe. Last year, American lobstermen sold only slightly more to Europe than their Canadian counterparts.
That balance could soon shift given the Canadian-European trade pact, which eliminated an 8 percent European tariff on live lobster when it went into effect in September. Tariffs on frozen and processed Canadian lobster will be phased out in the next three to five years as part of the agreement.
The elimination of European tariffs is “the single most challenging issue” for the American lobster industry, said Annie Tselikis, the executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, which represents companies that buy lobster from Maine fishermen. “This trade agreement does give Canada a huge leg up in the European marketplace,” she said.
Ms. Tselikis said the pact was encouraging American companies to invest in new facilities in Canada to qualify for the lower European tariff.
“If the argument is you’re not going to develop this trade policy because you’re worried about outsourcing jobs — well, here we are, potentially outsourcing jobs due to an absence of trade policy,” she said.”

Read the complete article here:

Meanwhile, Alan Freeman reports in the Washington Post that the Trump Administration might be on the verge of  driving tens of thousands of American residents with useful job skills over our Northern Border:

“OTTAWA — In late October, starkly worded warning signs began appearing on the Canadian border with New York state and Vermont aimed at discouraging would-be asylum seekers fleeing the United States.

“Stop. It is illegal to cross the border here or any place other than a Port of Entry. You will be arrested and detained if you cross here.”

“Not everyone is eligible to make an asylum claim,” reads a second sign. “Claiming asylum is not a free ticket into Canada.”

As the Trump administration signals that it may soon remove the Temporary Protected Status designation from more than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians, threatening them with deportation, Canadian officials are bracing for a new wave of asylum seekers flooding over the border.

Already this week, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced she was lifting protected status for 2,500 Nicaraguans, effective January 2019. And while she extended the same protection for 57,000 Hondurans until July 2018, she warned that protection may end at that time.

A new sign posted by Canadian authorities at the border between Canada and the United States. (Canada Border Services Agency)
The U.S. government decided to protect both groups from deportation following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and the measures were repeatedly renewed until this year. Duke said the original conditions justifying that protection “no longer exist.” Canada and its immigrant-friendly policies may be seen as a viable alternative for those reluctant to return to their countries of origin.

. . . .

Just last week, the government published a three-year plan aimed at accepting almost 1 million immigrants as permanent residents, with a clear bias toward economic migrants, who will make up 58 percent of the total. The balance will be shared between family and refugee classes.

 

Public reaction to the plan, which will see intake grow steadily from 300,000 in 2017 to 310,000 in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, has been generally positive with many of the critics, including the government’s own council of economic advisers, saying Canada should be accepting even more immigrants.

Canada has an increasingly diverse population, with visible minorities making up 22.3 percent of the population in 2016, according to recently released census figures, compared with just 4.7 percent in 1981. By 2036, visible minorities are expected to make up 33 percent of the population.

“Canada is probably the best country in the world to be an immigrant because we give immigrants a chance to climb the ladder to success,” said Kareem El-Assal, senior research manager at the Conference Board of Canada, a think tank, where he specializes in immigration.

Assal said Canada’s immigration system works in part because the Canadian government helps newcomers integrate through language, skills and job training at a cost of almost a billion dollars a year. Furthermore, immigrants benefit from Canada’s universal health-care system and its good public education and reasonably priced universities.

Public opinion surveys continue to show that Canadians are pro-migration. A survey by the Environics Institute last spring showed that 72 percent of respondents agreed that “overall, migration has a positive impact on the economy.” Yet in the same survey, 54 percent said that “too many immigrants do not accept Canadian values.”

As for those border warning signs, Fortin, the union leader, says that asylum seekers are reading them and then crossing the border anyway.

“It doesn’t seem to have a very big dissuasive effect,” he said.”

Here’s a link to the complete article:https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/canada-fears-a-huge-rush-of-asylum-seekers-if-their-us-protected-status-is-lifted/2017/11/12/9464645c-c4b1-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html

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Maine needs all the economic help it can get. And, I had lots of successful “TPSers” pass through my courtroom in Arlington. Good folks, industrious with useful job skills in the types of positions that we need but most Americans don’t want to do: child care, home health care, roofing, drywalling, cleaning, washing, making beds, waiting on tables, brewing coffee, making sandwiches, landscaping, pouring concrete, building things, meat processing, running convenience stores, etc. And, the vast majority had kids who were US citizens or in the DACA program. Our loss is likely to be Canada’s gain. The concept that there are lots of Native-born Americans out there (at a time of effectively full employment) waiting to take these jobs is a restrictionist fairy tale. But, if and when these folks leave, Americans who depend on them for essential services (like child care and Home improve,wants, for example, or restaurant and hotel owners) are going to find themselves out of luck.

So far, overall incompetence has saved us from the full adverse effects of Trump’s “Make America (Not So) Great” policies. But, if they ever do go into full effect, it will be bad for most Americans, including those gullible enough to have voted for Trump.

PWS

11-13-17

EUGENE ROBINSON IN WASHPOST: The Master Of Racial Identity Politics & His GOP Stooges!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/president-trump-is-the-master-of-abhorrent-identity-politics/2017/11/02/e675bca8-c003-11e7-959c-fe2b598d8c00_story.html?utm_term=.47797a94c8ea

Robinson writes:

“By now it should be clear that racism is a feature of the Trump administration, not a bug.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly’s hideous rewriting of Civil War history is merely the latest evidence. Can anyone really believe “the lack of an ability to compromise” caused that bloody war? Is it possible to become a four-star Marine general without knowing that the Constitution itself was structured around a compromise on slavery? Or that the first half of the 19th century saw a series of equally immoral compromises that let slavery continue?

How can a man whose son died in service of his country believe that “men . . . of good faith” is an acceptable description of military officers who committed treason and took up arms against the United States, as did Robert E. Lee and the rest of the Confederate generals? Do people of good faith hold others in cruel bondage, buy and sell them like chattel and forcibly compel their unpaid labor?

Kelly buys into the racist, revisionist, dripping-with-Spanish-moss version of history that white Southerners concocted as they were imposing the system of Jim Crow repression. Anyone ignorant enough to believe the war was about anything other than slavery should read the declarations issued by the Confederate states upon secession. Here is a quote from Mississippi’s proclamation, which is vile but at least forthright:

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

Those who profited handsomely from slavery — including the growing financial markets of Wall Street and the bustling textile mills of New England — knew full well that it was wrong. They just didn’t want to give it up.

Kelly’s “good faith” historical claptrap would be bad enough in a vacuum. But it alarmingly echoes President Trump’s “many sides” analysis of the Charlottesville incident — and continues a tone that Trump set at the outset of his campaign, when he vilified Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists.

. . . .

When Trump miscalibrates and strays into explicit racism, as he did in the case of Charlottesville, there are expressions of shock and horror from fellow Republicans and even members of his Cabinet. But nobody renounces him, except senators who are about to retire. Nobody quits his administration on principle. Trump’s enablers meekly go back to the all-important business of cutting rich people’s taxes.

Making whites feel embattled and aggrieved is central to the Trump presidency. It is what makes him different from all other recent presidents, perhaps going back as far as Woodrow Wilson, who imposed Jim Crow segregation on the federal workforce. It is what makes Trump so corrosive to the national fabric.

There is one master practitioner of identity politics in the United States today. Shamefully, he lives in the White House.”

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Read Robinson’s entire op-ed at the link.

Yup! Hard to add much to this analysis! Kelly’s perverted account of the Civil War (although depressing) is not particularly surprising when you remember that this is a guy who bought into the Trump-Gonzo-Miller-Bannon racist and bogus “overrun by the immigrant hordes and Muslim terrorists” fear-mongering hook, line, and sinker, with no apparent reflection on its demonstrable falsity or stupidity.

PWS

11-05-17

EDUARDO PORTER IN THE NYT: THE TRUMP-SESSIONS “GONZO ENFORCEMENT” POLICY OF BOOTING OUT UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS IS JUST PLAIN STUPID — In Addition To Being a Waste Of Money & Inhumane

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/business/economy/immigration-jobs.html

Porter writes:

“Few American industries are as invested in the decades-long political battle over immigration as agriculture. Paying low wages for backbreaking work, growers large and small have historically relied on immigrants from south of the Rio Grande. These days, over one-quarter of the farmhands in the United States are immigrants working here illegally.

This is how the growers will respond to President Trump’s threatened crackdown on immigration: They will lobby, asking Congress to provide some legal option to hang on to their foreign work force. They will switch to crops like tree nuts, which are less labor-intensive to produce than perishable fruits and vegetables. They will look for technology to mechanize the harvest of strawberries and other crops. And they will rent land in Mexico.

There is one thing they won’t do. Even if the Trump administration were to deploy the 10,000 immigration agents it plans to hire across the nation’s fields to detain and deport farmhands working illegally, farmers are very unlikely to raise wages and improve working conditions to attract American workers instead.

“Foreign workers will always be harvesting our crops,” Tom Nassif, who heads the Western Growers Association, told me. The only question for policymakers in Washington is whether “they want them to be harvesting in our economy or in another country.” If they choose the latter, he warned, they might consider that each farmworker sustains two to three jobs outside the fields.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

When policy is driven by ignorance, bias, and political pandering, rather than by facts, common sense, and economic reality, the results are always going to be ugly. So far, our country and our economy have been saved primarily by the overall incompetence of guys like Trump, Sessions, and their minions. But, it’s an expensive and divisive way to (not) “run the railroad.” We’re actually paying scarce taxpayer dollars for misguided policies that if actually successful would threaten our economic well-being and make our country a worse place to live.

PWS

10-24-17

“IMMIGRATION IMPACT” DEBUNKS THE LATEST “CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES (”CIS”) MYTHOLOGICAL STUDY” – No, Folks, White Christian America Is Not Really Being Engulfed By An “Alien Wave” Of Hostile Non-White, Non-Christian Immigrants – But, We Are Becoming A More Diverse And Economically Healthy Country Thanks To The Contributions Of ALL MIGRANTS ( NOT Just A Few “STEM Superstars” Who Arrive Speaking English)!

http://immigrationimpact.com/2017/10/23/immigrants-united-states-population/

writes (in an article original published in “Demographics, Economics, Immigration 101, Integration :”

The United States has been created by successive waves of immigration over the course of centuries. Each wave of immigrants from different parts of the world has helped to build the U.S. economy and enrich U.S. society. And each wave of immigrants has provoked a chorus of dire warnings from nativists worried that the presence of too many immigrants will somehow dilute the American sense of identity.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is one of the groups that routinely issue such warnings. One of the more subtle ways in which they do this is to present immigration statistics in as dramatic a way as possible, with the implication being that native-born Americans are in danger of being over-run by foreigners. In a recent report, for instance, CIS takes advantage of newly released Census data to sound the alarm over the size of the immigrant population in the United States.

Of course, CIS offers no context for this data; no discussion of the historical, economic, political, and social environment within which immigration occurs. Just panicked pronouncements that the immigrant population hit a “record” 43.7 million in 2016—or one out of every eight people in the country.

In fact, immigrants now make up 13.5 percent of the U.S. population, which is less than the 14.7 percent share in 1910. For good measure, CIS also throws in an estimate of how large the foreign-born population might be by 2060 (at which point 78 million immigrants may account for 18.8 percent of the population).

However, the real story is not the number of immigrants; it’s what immigrants do once they’re here. Specifically, the contributions they make to the U.S. economy and the degree to which they integrate into U.S. society.

For instance, based on data from 2015 and 2014, we know that nearly half of all immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens and that seven out of ten speak English reasonably well. More than one-quarter have a college degree.

There are more than 27 million immigrant workers in the country who make outsized contributions to occupations both low-tech and high-tech. Immigrant households pay hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes each year and wield hundreds of billions in consumer spending power.

And immigrant business owners generate tens of billions of dollars in business income.

This is the kind of context that CIS fails to offer in its run-down of Census numbers. The not-so-subtle implication of the CIS report is that native-born Americans are drowning is a sea of foreigners.

But when you actually start to enumerate the many ways that immigrants (and their children) add value to the U.S. economy as workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers—and integrate into U.S. society while enriching U.S. culture—the numbers represent good news.

************************************************

You can bet that the CIS false narrative about the “Alien Invasion” and the threat to our culture and our society will be picked up in speeches by Trump, Sessions, Miller, Bannon, and other restrictionists to justify cuts in legal immigration, reducing family immigration, removing undocumented Latino and African workers, cutting rights of asylum seekers (particularly those from Central America and predominantly Muslim countries), and “shutting out” so-called “unskilled immigrants” in favor of guys with college degrees who show up speaking English.

The whole “Immigration Is A Threat To America” that therefore must be reduced, artificially limited, and punished is bogus! It stands in the way of serious discussions of how to reform and re-design our legal immigration system to channel more of the historical flow of needed workers and refugees into legal channels, prevent exploitation of immigrant workers by unscrupulous employers, and thereby reduce the incentives and the flow of “extralegal” migration to levels that can be controlled by non-draconian immigration enforcement working with market forces rather than in opposition to them.

PWS

10-24-17

THE GRIFTERS: Party Of Liars — GOP Tax Plan Proposes To Loot America For the Rich, Limit Government Services For Everyone Else, & Leave Future Generations To Pay The Price — Not Surprisingly, They Lie About It And Assume That Non-Fat-Cat Supporters Are Too Dumb Or Biased to Figure It Out! — Fact Checker Gives GOP Politicos Coveted “Four Pinocchios!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/09/29/trump-aides-sell-tax-plan-with-pinocchio-laden-claims/

Glenn Kessler writes for the “Fact Checker” in the Washington Post.

The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan.”
— Gary Cohn, director of the White House Economic Council, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sept. 28, 2017

“The numbers are about a trillion and a half to the baseline. But more importantly, it’s a trillion dollars to policy, which is the right way of looking at it. We think there will be $2 trillion of growth. So we think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars.”
— Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in an interview on Fox News, Sept. 28

In selling President Trump’s tax plan, his aides have resorted to making strikingly misleading statements to defend it.

At the moment, there are few details about the tax plan, only broad strokes. That makes it easier for the administration to make big claims as analysts scramble to try to make sense of the plan’s possible impact. That will be much harder once an actual tax bill is written and the details can be analyzed in depth.

In the meantime, we have a pair of Four-Pinocchio claims that are worth highlighting.

 

‘The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan’

The Trump tax plan drops the top bracket from 39.6 to 35 percent, and allows for the possibility of a 25 percent top rate through a pass-through entity. It presumably would also eliminate a 3.8 percent Obamacare tax on investment income that hits only upper-income taxpayers.

So, on its face, this is a ridiculous statement to make for any plan that includes reductions in tax rates. That’s because federal income taxes are paid mostly by the wealthy. So when you cut income tax rates, it results in lots of dollars for the wealthiest taxpayers.

According to Treasury Department data, the top 10 percent of income earners in 2016 paid 80 percent of individual income taxes. The top 20 percent paid 94.8 percent. The top 0.1 percent paid an astonishing 24.5 percent of taxes.

In 2014, the latest year Internal Revenue Service data is available, just the top 400 taxpayers — with $127 billion of income — paid $29.4 billion in income taxes, or more than 2 percent of all income taxes. That’s more than the bottom 70 percent of taxpayers combined.

 

In other words, the vast majority of American taxpayers pay little or nothing in income taxes; they instead mostly pay payroll taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. So it really strains credulity for administration officials such as Cohn to say the wealthy will not get a tax cut.

The wealthy pay most of the taxes, so unless the tax plan specifically leaves them untouched — which Trump’s plan does not — they will get big tax cuts. This is why distributional tables often look so lopsided when tax rates are reduced. The administration has suggested that another, higher rate level might be added, presumably so the distributional tables won’t look so ugly, but right now the plan calls for a significant reduction in the top rate.

Besides a reduction in the top tax rate, the tax plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax (AMT). That in theory should be a boon for the wealthy as well, although it increasingly has snared families in the upper middle class, especially if they live in high-tax states or have many children.

 

The administration has called for eliminating the itemized deduction for state and local taxes, as well as the personal/dependent exemptions, which are key add-ons when calculating the AMT. (If those items were eliminated from the AMT, the number of tax filers facing the AMT would drop by 95 percent, according to the Joint Committee of Taxation.)

So it’s possible that for many people it would be a wash, or even a net loser, depending on whether a tax filer lives in a state with high taxes. According to JCT, the AMT is paid by 36 percent of returns with income of between $200,000 and $500,000, nearly 55 percent between $500,000 and $1 million, and nearly 18 percent above $1 million.

Still, in 2014, the top 400 taxpayers paid nearly $700 million because of the alternative minimum tax, nearly 2.5 percent of the total. The one recent tax return of President Trump that has leaked — for 2005 — shows his tax bill increased $31 million because of the AMT.

Finally, the tax plan calls for eliminating the estate tax, although it is unclear on whether any tax would be required when someone dies. Currently, the estate tax is estimated to affect only about 5,500 estates out of nearly 3 million estates because as much as $11 million can be shielded from taxation.

 

In theory, assets would be subject to capital gains tax instead, which could actually affect more people, but that has not been specified in the administration’s tax outline. If the administration also eliminates the gift tax and does not tax capital gains at death, some income earned by the wealthy may never be taxed.

“We strongly believe the final tax bill will not cut taxes for the wealthy as a class — but there is no way to solve for every single individual in the country,” a White House official said.

‘We think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars’

Mnuchin made this statement in response to an observation that the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated the tax plan would reduce revenue by $2.2 trillion over 10 years. (Including additional interest on the debt, CRFB estimated the deficit would increase by $2.7 trillion.) He argued that instead there would be an additional $2 trillion in revenue from economic growth, resulting in a $1 trillion reduction in the deficit.

Cohn, briefing reporters at the White House a few hours later, offered a different estimate: “We know that 1 percent change in GDP will add $3 trillion back. So if they’re right, we’re only going to pay down $800 billion of the deficit. I’ll live with a $800 billion paydown.”

It’s a little odd that Mnuchin is anticipating $2 trillion in revenue and Cohn is anticipating $3 trillion in revenue. But these are both very rosy estimates of the impact of a tax cut in economic growth. No serious economist believes that a tax cut boosts economic growth so much that the tax cut pays for itself.

The Congressional Budget Office, under Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican, in 2005 estimated that a 10 percent reduction in federal income tax rates would have macroeconomic feedbacks of between 15 and 30 percent. In other words, a $1 trillion tax cut might yield $150 billion to $300 billion in additional revenue. That still means a reduction in revenue of as much as $700 billion.

“The big problem is that there is no fully specified plan,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Without one, you can’t gauge the growth or know the budget cost. I’m broadly sympathetic to the framework, but it is a start, not the finish.”

As Holtz-Eakin put it earlier this year in an opinion column for The Washington Post: “Proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts and then casually asserting that such a plan would ‘pay for itself with growth’ … is detached from empirical reality.”

Indeed, contrary to popular perception, even Ronald Reagan predicted revenue would fall as a result of his big 1981 tax cut that reduced tax rates. That is shown in Reagan administration and Congressional Budget Office scores of the Reagan tax plan reproduced in a 2011 article for Tax Notes by Bruce Bartlett, who helped craft the 1981 tax cut as a congressional aide at the time. The estimates turned out to be wrong because the 1981-1982 recession was deeper than expected and inflation fell more rapidly than expected, so Reagan boosted taxes just one year after his tax cut.

William A. Niskanen, chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, co-wrote a paper in 1996 that defended Reagan’s economic record but also said it was “an enduring myth” that Reagan officials believed tax cuts would pay for themselves. “This was nonsense from day one, because the credible evidence overwhelmingly indicates that revenue feedbacks from tax cuts is 35 cents per dollar, at most,” Niskanen wrote, noting that “the Reagan administration never assumed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.”

A Treasury Department study on the impact of tax bills since 1940, first released in 2006 and later updated, found that the 1981 tax cut reduced revenue by $208 billion in its first four years. George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut — also a rate cut — led to a revenue loss of $91 billion, over four years, the Treasury paper calculated. (The figures are rendered in constant 2012 dollars.)

Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts came during periods of economic stress, which is certainly not the case now. So there is less room now for a big swing upward in the economy, especially with the country’s aging workforce.

The Treasury Department did not respond to a query for an explanation of Mnuchin’s math. But frankly it is irresponsible for a treasury secretary to claim a certain amount of growth or revenue without even producing the details of a plan, as the details determine the impact on the economy.

The Pinocchio Test

Though the details of the tax plan are sparse, both Cohn and Mnuchin made statements that are simply false. Of course the wealthy will do well under the tax cut, even if certain deductions are eliminated, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. And it’s a fantasy to claim that the tax cut will pay for itself — and even reduce the deficit — especially in an economy that already has low unemployment and a booming stock market.

Four 🤥

The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan.”
— Gary Cohn, director of the White House Economic Council, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sept. 28, 2017

“The numbers are about a trillion and a half to the baseline. But more importantly, it’s a trillion dollars to policy, which is the right way of looking at it. We think there will be $2 trillion of growth. So we think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars.”
— Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in an interview on Fox News, Sept. 28

In selling President Trump’s tax plan, his aides have resorted to making strikingly misleading statements to defend it.

At the moment, there are few details about the tax plan, only broad strokes. That makes it easier for the administration to make big claims as analysts scramble to try to make sense of the plan’s possible impact. That will be much harder once an actual tax bill is written and the details can be analyzed in depth.

In the meantime, we have a pair of Four-Pinocchio claims that are worth highlighting.

 

‘The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan’

The Trump tax plan drops the top bracket from 39.6 to 35 percent, and allows for the possibility of a 25 percent top rate through a pass-through entity. It presumably would also eliminate a 3.8 percent Obamacare tax on investment income that hits only upper-income taxpayers.

So, on its face, this is a ridiculous statement to make for any plan that includes reductions in tax rates. That’s because federal income taxes are paid mostly by the wealthy. So when you cut income tax rates, it results in lots of dollars for the wealthiest taxpayers.

According to Treasury Department data, the top 10 percent of income earners in 2016 paid 80 percent of individual income taxes. The top 20 percent paid 94.8 percent. The top 0.1 percent paid an astonishing 24.5 percent of taxes.

In 2014, the latest year Internal Revenue Service data is available, just the top 400 taxpayers — with $127 billion of income — paid $29.4 billion in income taxes, or more than 2 percent of all income taxes. That’s more than the bottom 70 percent of taxpayers combined.

 

In other words, the vast majority of American taxpayers pay little or nothing in income taxes; they instead mostly pay payroll taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. So it really strains credulity for administration officials such as Cohn to say the wealthy will not get a tax cut.

The wealthy pay most of the taxes, so unless the tax plan specifically leaves them untouched — which Trump’s plan does not — they will get big tax cuts. This is why distributional tables often look so lopsided when tax rates are reduced. The administration has suggested that another, higher rate level might be added, presumably so the distributional tables won’t look so ugly, but right now the plan calls for a significant reduction in the top rate.

Besides a reduction in the top tax rate, the tax plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax (AMT). That in theory should be a boon for the wealthy as well, although it increasingly has snared families in the upper middle class, especially if they live in high-tax states or have many children.

 

The administration has called for eliminating the itemized deduction for state and local taxes, as well as the personal/dependent exemptions, which are key add-ons when calculating the AMT. (If those items were eliminated from the AMT, the number of tax filers facing the AMT would drop by 95 percent, according to the Joint Committee of Taxation.)

So it’s possible that for many people it would be a wash, or even a net loser, depending on whether a tax filer lives in a state with high taxes. According to JCT, the AMT is paid by 36 percent of returns with income of between $200,000 and $500,000, nearly 55 percent between $500,000 and $1 million, and nearly 18 percent above $1 million.

Still, in 2014, the top 400 taxpayers paid nearly $700 million because of the alternative minimum tax, nearly 2.5 percent of the total. The one recent tax return of President Trump that has leaked — for 2005 — shows his tax bill increased $31 million because of the AMT.

Finally, the tax plan calls for eliminating the estate tax, although it is unclear on whether any tax would be required when someone dies. Currently, the estate tax is estimated to affect only about 5,500 estates out of nearly 3 million estates because as much as $11 million can be shielded from taxation.

 

In theory, assets would be subject to capital gains tax instead, which could actually affect more people, but that has not been specified in the administration’s tax outline. If the administration also eliminates the gift tax and does not tax capital gains at death, some income earned by the wealthy may never be taxed.

“We strongly believe the final tax bill will not cut taxes for the wealthy as a class — but there is no way to solve for every single individual in the country,” a White House official said.

‘We think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars’

Mnuchin made this statement in response to an observation that the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated the tax plan would reduce revenue by $2.2 trillion over 10 years. (Including additional interest on the debt, CRFB estimated the deficit would increase by $2.7 trillion.) He argued that instead there would be an additional $2 trillion in revenue from economic growth, resulting in a $1 trillion reduction in the deficit.

Cohn, briefing reporters at the White House a few hours later, offered a different estimate: “We know that 1 percent change in GDP will add $3 trillion back. So if they’re right, we’re only going to pay down $800 billion of the deficit. I’ll live with a $800 billion paydown.”

It’s a little odd that Mnuchin is anticipating $2 trillion in revenue and Cohn is anticipating $3 trillion in revenue. But these are both very rosy estimates of the impact of a tax cut in economic growth. No serious economist believes that a tax cut boosts economic growth so much that the tax cut pays for itself.

The Congressional Budget Office, under Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican, in 2005 estimated that a 10 percent reduction in federal income tax rates would have macroeconomic feedbacks of between 15 and 30 percent. In other words, a $1 trillion tax cut might yield $150 billion to $300 billion in additional revenue. That still means a reduction in revenue of as much as $700 billion.

“The big problem is that there is no fully specified plan,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Without one, you can’t gauge the growth or know the budget cost. I’m broadly sympathetic to the framework, but it is a start, not the finish.”

As Holtz-Eakin put it earlier this year in an opinion column for The Washington Post: “Proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts and then casually asserting that such a plan would ‘pay for itself with growth’ … is detached from empirical reality.”

Indeed, contrary to popular perception, even Ronald Reagan predicted revenue would fall as a result of his big 1981 tax cut that reduced tax rates. That is shown in Reagan administration and Congressional Budget Office scores of the Reagan tax plan reproduced in a 2011 article for Tax Notes by Bruce Bartlett, who helped craft the 1981 tax cut as a congressional aide at the time. The estimates turned out to be wrong because the 1981-1982 recession was deeper than expected and inflation fell more rapidly than expected, so Reagan boosted taxes just one year after his tax cut.

William A. Niskanen, chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, co-wrote a paper in 1996 that defended Reagan’s economic record but also said it was “an enduring myth” that Reagan officials believed tax cuts would pay for themselves. “This was nonsense from day one, because the credible evidence overwhelmingly indicates that revenue feedbacks from tax cuts is 35 cents per dollar, at most,” Niskanen wrote, noting that “the Reagan administration never assumed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.”

A Treasury Department study on the impact of tax bills since 1940, first released in 2006 and later updated, found that the 1981 tax cut reduced revenue by $208 billion in its first four years. George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut — also a rate cut — led to a revenue loss of $91 billion, over four years, the Treasury paper calculated. (The figures are rendered in constant 2012 dollars.)

Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts came during periods of economic stress, which is certainly not the case now. So there is less room now for a big swing upward in the economy, especially with the country’s aging workforce.

The Treasury Department did not respond to a query for an explanation of Mnuchin’s math. But frankly it is irresponsible for a treasury secretary to claim a certain amount of growth or revenue without even producing the details of a plan, as the details determine the impact on the economy.

The Pinocchio Test

Though the details of the tax plan are sparse, both Cohn and Mnuchin made statements that are simply false. Of course the wealthy will do well under the tax cut, even if certain deductions are eliminated, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. And it’s a fantasy to claim that the tax cut will pay for itself — and even reduce the deficit — especially in an economy that already has low unemployment and a booming stock market.

Four 🤥 🤥 🤥 🤥

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Four Pinocchios is getting into “Jeff Sessions’s territory!”

But, I can see that they were richly deserved. I watched Steve “Munchkin” Mnuchkin on “Meet the Press” with Churck Todd this AM.  It was appalling!

Munchkin lied about Puerto Rico, lied about the tax plan, and then lied and tried to cover up his own responsibility for trying to get a “freebie” at taxpayer expense for his honeymoon. The idea that there was any “national security” reason for the Munchkin keeping in touch with the White House is preposterous.

Indeed the very idea that Munchkin would have any role in national security other than making sure the checks don’t bounce is prima facie ridiculous. And, if he did, that’s what secure facilities in the CIA part of the nearest U.S. Embassy are for. Or for that matter, that’s what subordinates in the Trasure Department are for. Gotta believe that every once and awhile spooks have to make secure communications with Washington.

When confronted by Todd with his obvious lies and cover-ups, Munchkin just kept on spewing whoppers. Finally, Todd gave up, thanked him, and let the record speak for itself.

PWS

10-01-17

 

 

“Warren Buffett on Immigration Reform: Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem.“

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/29/warren-buffett-on-immigration-reform.aspx

Matthew Frankel reports for The Motley Fool:

“Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue long before President Trump pledged to build a wall along our border. And while there’s certainly an argument to be made that we need to do a better job of controlling illegal immigration, there’s also a strong case to be made that immigrants are a big driving force behind America’s growth — past, present, and future.

Warren Buffett has been very outspoken in recent years about America and its amazing economic story. Not only does Buffett feel that immigrants have led us to where we are today, but he also thinks that immigrants are an essential component of our country’s future success.

Here’s what Warren Buffett thinks of immigrants
In a nutshell, Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem. “This country has been blessed by immigrants,” Buffett said in February at Columbia University. “You can take them from any country you want, and they’ve come here and they found something that unleashed the potential that the place that they left did not, and we’re the product of it.”

Referring to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, both of whom were immigrants themselves, Buffett said, “If it hadn’t been for those two immigrants, who knows whether we’d be sitting in this room.”

In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) shareholders, Buffett specifically mentioned immigrants as one of the major components of America’s success story. “From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

On a pathway to citizenship
Buffett is an outspoken Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Buffett doesn’t want to deport millions of illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States.

In a 2015 interview with Fox Business, Buffett said

People should be able to earn citizenship who are here. You know, I do not think we should deport millions of people. So, I think we should have a real path to citizenship.

Buffett was then asked specifically about the DREAM Act and its 800,000 minors who are in the country illegally and now face an uncertain future after the end of DACA, from the perspective of a successful American businessman. Buffett replied:

It is a question of being a human being not really a businessman. Immigrants came, our forefathers came as immigrants, they got here anyway they could. And who knows what I would have done if I were in some terrible situation in a country and wanted to come here…a great percentage of them are good citizens. I would have a path to citizenship for them, I would not send them back.

 

On immigration policy and reform
As we all know, the immigration debate has been going on for a long time. And Buffett’s stance hasn’t changed much over the past several years. In a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, Buffett said:

I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular — in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here.

Buffett went on to say that any reform package should “certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens,” and one main reason for doing so would be to deepen the talent pool of the labor force.

Buffett’s stance on immigration in a nutshell
Warren Buffett believes that allowing immigrants who are already in the country to stay and pursue citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but is essential to America’s continued economic prosperity. Buffett certainly sees the need for immigration reform, as most Americans of all political affiliations do, but wants to encourage and simplify the legal pathways to immigration.”

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Buffet speaks simple truth: Immigrants, both documented and undocumented are not threats, but rather are a necessary ingredient for America’s greatness. We need to bring law-abiding undocumented individuals into our society in some type of legal, work authorized status. We also need substantial across the board increases in legal immigration, so that in the future the immigrants we need can come through the legal system (or wait in a realistic line) rather than coming through an underground system and working and living in the shadows.

The lies, misrepresentations, and false narratives being peddled by Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Kobach, Cotton, Perdue, King, Goodlatte, Labrador, the so called “Freedom” Caucus, and the rest of their White Nationalist restrictionist cronies are a path to national disaster. Removing existing non-criminal migrants who happen to be working here in undocumented status is a colossal waste of limited Government resources that actually hurts our country in numerous ways.

Time to stand up against the restrictionist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, anti-American blather. Demand that your Congressional representatives back sane, humane immigration reform that takes care of those already here and recognizes their great contributions while appropriately and significantly expanding future legal immigration opportunities so that we don’t keep repreating our mistakes over and over.

Let’s be honest about it. If the time, money, and resources that the U.S. Government is currently spending on the counterproductive aspects of immigration enforcement and inhumane immigration detention were shifted into constructive areas, there would be no “disaster relief crisis” in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands right now, and we’d have more money to spend on heath care, job training and retraining, infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, and many more legitimate national priorities!

PWS

09-30-17

DEMS ARE “PIPE DREAMING” IF THEY BELIEVE THAT TRUMP’S SUPPOSEDLY HISTORICALLY LOW POLL NUMBERS WILL ADD UP TO DEM VICTORY AT POLLS — Without Any Charismatic Leader Or Hugely Popular Program, Dems Appear Slated To Wander In The Wilderness Until Trump Destroys The Entire Country!

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/13/teflon-trump-democrats-messaging-242607

Edward-Isaac Devore writes in Politico:

“Democrats tried attacking Donald Trump as unfit for the presidency. They’ve made the case that he’s ineffective, pointing to his failure to sign a single major piece of legislation into law after eight months in the job. They’ve argued that Trump is using the presidency to enrich himself and that his campaign was in cahoots with Russia.

None of it is working.

 

Data from a range of focus groups and internal polls in swing states paint a difficult picture for the Democratic Party heading into the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential election. It suggests that Democrats are naive if they believe Trump’s historically low approval numbers mean a landslide is coming. The party is defending 10 Senate seats in states that Trump won and needs to flip 24 House seats to take control of that chamber.

The research, conducted by private firms and for Democratic campaign arms, is rarely made public but was described to POLITICO in interviews with a dozen top operatives who’ve been analyzing the results coming in.

“If that’s the attitude that’s driving the Democratic Party, we’re going to drive right into the ocean,” said Anson Kaye, a strategist at media firm GMMB who worked on the Obama and Clinton campaigns and is in conversations with potential clients for next year.

Worse news, they worry: Many of the ideas party leaders have latched onto in an attempt to appeal to their lost voters — free college tuition, raising the minimum wage to $15, even Medicare for all — test poorly among voters outside the base. The people in these polls and focus groups tend to see those proposals as empty promises, at best.

Pollsters are shocked by how many voters describe themselves as “exhausted” by the constant chaos surrounding Trump, and they find that there’s strong support for a Congress that provides a check on him rather than voting for his agenda most of the time. But he is still viewed as an outsider shaking up the system, which people in the various surveys say they like, and which Democrats don’t stack up well against.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Don’t forget that Trump has seldom “polled well” except among his base. He never really crossed the 50% mark in any credible polls (assuming that any polls were in fact credible, something cast into doubt by the 2016 Election) even on Election Day. But, that hasn’t stopped him from becoming President and won’t necessarily stop him from being a 2-term President.

If nothing else, Trump has proved that a fanatic base, properly distributed across the U.S., can allow him to exploit the peculiarities of the US system to win elections without ever being “the people’s choice.” According to this article, there is little reason to believe that voters will hold either Trump or the GOP accountable for their lackluster performance at governing. Indeed, it’s entirely possible that the GOP will wake up the morning after the November 2018 Elections with even bigger majorities in the House and Senate.

PWS

09-13-17

JAMES HOHMANN IN WASHPOST: SOME KEY GOP MODERATES FLEE WASHINGTON AS SWAMP-DWELLING LENINIST REVOLUTIONARIES & BAKUNINIST ANARCHISTS TAKE OVER PARTY AIMING TO DESTROY AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AS WE KNOW IT! — But, Congressional Departures Still Below Norm So “Trump-Effect” Likely Overhyped!

https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=amVubmluZ3MxMkBhb2wuY29t&s=59b279eefe1ff671d4f2777c

Hohmann reports in the “Daily 202:”

THE BIG IDEA: Exhausted from his ideological battles with the House Freedom Caucus and clashes with Donald Trump’s White House, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) has decided to retire.

“As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I’ve worked to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington,” Dent said in a statement last night announcing that he will not seek an eighth term. “I’ve fought to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.”

Dent is the co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, which has about 50 center-right members. That’s more than the three dozen or so guys in the Freedom Caucus, but the tea partiers punch above their weight because they mostly vote as a bloc.

— The retirement gives Democrats a prime pick-up opportunity, and some veteran GOP strategists are increasingly nervous that a stream of others will follow – especially if the House fails to put more legislative points on the board (e.g. overhauling the tax code) and the political winds continue to suggest major Democratic gains in the 2018 midterms.

— Dent has increasingly drawn the wrath of the Trumpist movement for his willingness to publicly express concerns about Trump that many of his House GOP colleagues are still only willing to say on background. The congressman called for Trump to drop out when the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged last October and then voted for independent Evan McMullin. Since January, he’s spoken out against the president’s travel ban, his firing of James Comey as FBI director and his false moral equivalency after Charlottesville.

Breitbart, again under Steve Bannon’s leadership, played up a story last Friday about an anti-Dent rally in Allentown that drew more than 100 conservative activists.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Justin Simmons announced on Wednesday that he would challenge Dent in a primary next year, emphasizing the incumbent’s lack of support for Trump. “Like many Republicans, I used to support Charlie Dent,” Simmons said in the press release kicking off his campaign. “But in the past year, Charlie Dent has completely gone off the rails.”

Dismissing the challenger as an opportunistic “phony,” Dent released embarrassing text messages that he received from him last year. One asked him to host a fundraiser to help in a contested primary. Another asked, “Do you think there’s any chance the party can replace Trump on the top of the ticket?”

Instead of facing off with Simmons, though, Dent is now stepping aside.

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— That surprise news came just one day after another seven-term moderate announced he will retire. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who represents a suburban Seattle district that Hillary Clinton carried, is chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade. Breaking with the protectionist president, Reichert’s goodbye statement emphasized the importance of free trade to the Pacific Northwest. “From serving on President Obama’s Export Council to battling to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to leading the fight to pass the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, I have always fought to give our exporters the chance to sell their goods and services around the world,” he wrote.

— A third moderate, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), also expressed concern about the direction of the party when she revealed her plan to step down this spring. The first Cuban American elected to Congress expressed confidence she’d get reelected, even though Clinton won her Miami district by 20 points, but she said the prospect of two more years in the current environment just didn’t appeal to her. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected — but it’s not about getting elected,” she told the Miami Heraldin April.

Ros-Lehtinen, the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has spoken out loudly against Trump since then, on issues like deportations (including DACA this week), transgender rights (her son is transgender) and budget cuts. “I’m not one of those name-callers that think the Democrats don’t have a single good idea,” she said. “Too many people think that way, and I think that’s to the detriment to civility and of good government.”

— Even as relations continue to fray between Republican congressional leaders and Trump, Democrats say these retirements are just the latest proof points that the Trumpists have completed their hostile takeover of the GOP. “With Trump in charge of the GOP, they might as well have a sign on the door that says ‘moderates need not apply,’” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson, who previously ran the independent expenditure arm of the DCCC. “The last cell-block has fallen and now Trump’s rabble of inmates are running the asylum. Dare to stand up to Trumpism by thinking people should be able to keep their healthcare or by opposing white supremacists, and you’ll find there is no home for you in the Republican party any more. That’s dangerous for the next two years and for the next 20. Whether it’s in Seattle, Miami, or now Allentown, the GOP is pushing out the only leaders who could convince suburban voters there was a way to get a home in the Republican Party that wasn’t Trump-owned.

Charlie Dent does a TV hit in the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Charlie Dent does a TV hit in the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

— A close ally of GOP leadership, Dent also serves as chairman of the House Ethics Committee and is a powerful “cardinal,” which in congressional parlance means that he chairs an Appropriations subcommittee. (He controls tens of billions in annual spending related to veterans’ affairs and military construction.)

— While acknowledging that Trump is a factor, Dent says that the trends driving him to give up this immense power predate the current president.

The ideological makeup of the House Republican conference has changed markedly since Newt Gingrich seized the majority in 1994. When the party won back the lower chamber in the 2010 midterms, after four years in the wilderness, the success of the tea party movement meant that there were relatively fewer moderates than before.

Republicans dominated the decennial redistricting process and drew lots of safely red districts. This meant that many House members became more vulnerable to a primary challenge from their right than a general election challenge from a Democrat. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down in a 2014 primary, and the Freedom Caucus formed the next year.

This created additional incentives for members to become part of the unofficial “vote no, hope yes” caucus. This is a group of Republicans who want spending bills and debt-ceiling increases to pass but won’t support them because they fear retaliation from outside conservative groups. The departure of Barack Obama from the Oval Office has lessened some of the reflexive, knee-jerk partisanship (it’s harder to tell Trump no), but “vote no, hope yes” remains a powerful force that House Speaker Paul Ryan must contend with every day.

Perversely, these “no” votes force Republican leaders to turn to Democrats for the necessary votes to pass key bills. That has given Nancy Pelosi more leverage than she would have otherwise had. The result is that final deals are often less conservative than they might be otherwise.

People like Dent, who considers himself a conservative, constantly bang their heads against the wall because of this dynamic. He explained last night that solving problems requires “negotiation, cooperation and, inevitably, compromise.”

The 57-year-old said he has been having “periodic discussions” with his wife and three kids about whether to stay in Congress ever “since the government shutdown in 2013.” He said discussions about retiring “increased in frequency” earlier this year, and that he made the decision to step down “in midsummer” – before he drew the primary challenger. “Accomplishing the most basic fundamental tasks of governance is becoming far too difficult,” Dent explained to The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis in an interview last night. “It shouldn’t be, but that’s reality.”

Rep. Charlie Dent, left, and Rep. Pat Meehan walk to a meeting with fellow House Republicans at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Charlie Dent, left, and Rep. Pat Meehan walk to a meeting with fellow House Republicans at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— The nonpartisan Cook Political Report plans to move Pennsylvania’s 15th District – which covers Allentown, Bethlehem and much of the Lehigh Valley – from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican” in ratings that will publish later today.

Trump carried the district by eight points last November, while Dent won reelection by 20 points. Obama won the 15th in 2008 and narrowly lost it in 2012.

Democrats see a great pickup opportunity. “After nine months of utter failure to get even the most basic things done for hardworking families, it’s no surprise that Dent is as sick and tired of the Republican party as the American people,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske.

The NRCC chairman, Rep. Steve Stivers, expressed confidence Republicans will hold the seat. “From reforming the broken VA to ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education, Congressman Dent has championed conservative values since taking office in 2005,” said Stivers (R-Ohio). “While his leadership in Congress will be sorely missed, I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his life.”

— Dent is the 13th Republican to leave the House since the start of 2017. Four accepted jobs in the Trump administration, and three more are running for governor. Dent is the sixth to retire without another position in mind.

As a point of comparison, seven Democrats have announced plans to leave the House. All but one (Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts) did so to run for higher office. Only one represents a district Trump won: Tim Walz, who is now a front-runner to become the next governor of Minnesota.

— To be fair, though, the current number of House members who are retiring remains far below the historical norm. Going back to 1976, an average of 22 House members have retired in each cycle without seeking a higher office. With Dent, we’re at just seven for this term. Contrary to some of the liberal commentary on places like Twitter and cable news, Trump has not opened the floodgates. At least not yet.”

********************************************

Imagine someone who fights to “fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.” What audacity! No wonder today’s GOP wants Dent out! Bakuninists believe that revolution is necessary to destroy government and order, not to govern.

PWS

09-08-17

EXPOSED: DHS INSPECTOR GENERAL SHOWS TOTAL INSANITY OF TRUMP’S PROPOSALS TO ADD 15,000 UNNECESSARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT AGENTS! — Would Require “Vetting” Of 1.25 Million Applicants! –“Neither [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] nor [ICE] could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the additional 15,000 agents and officers!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-plan-to-hire-15000-border-and-immigration-personnel-isnt-justified-federal-watchdog-says/2017/08/02/c9345136-77a1-11e7-8839-ec48ec4cae25_story.html?utm_term=.af47cea49a62

Lisa Rein reports for the Washington Post:

“President Trump’s plan for an aggressive hiring surge of 15,000 Border Patrol and immigration personnel to help keep out undocumented immigrants is unrealistic — and the Department of Homeland Security has not made a case for it, the agency’s watchdog says.

A report released this week by the DHS inspector general concludes that based on its rigorous screening requirement for law enforcement jobs and the relatively high rate of attrition among Border Patrol agents, Homeland Security would have to vet 750,000 applicants to find 5,000 qualified personnel.

In addition, to hire the 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents the president called for in executive orders he issued in his first days in office, a pool of 500,000 candidates would need to apply, auditors found.

The report calls into question whether DHS officials even need 15,000 new hires to target undocumented immigrants. Agency leaders have done such poor planning for what their workforce should look like, with an understaffed, poorly trained human resources operation, that they cannot justify thousands of new employees, the report says.

“Neither [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] nor [ICE] could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the additional 15,000 agents and officers,” the report by the office of Inspector General John Roth said.

DHS officials told auditors that they are still three to four years from getting a system in place that will be able to tell them how many new personnel they need and where to deploy them.

“Without comprehensive staffing models, operational needs analyses, and deployment strategies, CBP and ICE will not be able to identify clearly the correct number and type of employees required, what positions must be filled, or where to deploy those employees,” the report said.

Trump promised on the campaign trail to vastly beef up enforcement against undocumented immigrants with a new border wall, a surge in agents to help seal off the Southwest border with Mexico and a “deportation force” to arrest people in the country illegally. The 15,000 new front-line employees would come with almost 9,600 more technical and support staff, the report said.”

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Read Rein’s complete article and get a link to the IG’s report at the above link.

More fraud, waste, and abuse from the “Fraudster In Chief.” For a fraction of the money Trump & Co propose to squander, we could build a first-class U.S. Immigration Court system that would be a model of due process and fairness and would contribute much more to fair, efficient, and effective enforcement of the immigration laws.

PWS

08-03-17

JUST WHAT AMERICA DOESN’T NEED RIGHT NOW: Lower Levels of Legal Immigration — Trump/GOP’s White Nationalist Agenda Would Likely Tank Economy, Reduce Tax Base, Increase Border Pressures, Increase Refugee Deaths!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/08/02/trump-gop-senators-to-introduce-bill-to-slash-legal-immigration-levels/?utm_term=.4f699ce139fd

David Nakamura reports in the Washington Post:

“Trump’s appearance with the senators came as the White House moved to elevate immigration back to the political forefront after the president suffered a major defeat when the Senate narrowly rejected his push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The president made a speech last Friday on Long Island in which he pushed Congress to devote more resources to fighting illegal immigration, including transnational gangs.

The event on Wednesday illustrated the president’s efforts to broaden his push to reform border control laws beyond illegal immigration. Trump called the changes to legal immigration necessary to protect American workers, including racial minorities, from rising competition for lower-paid jobs.

“Among those who have been hit hardest in recent years are immigrants and minority workers competing for jobs against brand new arrivals,” Trump said. “It has not been fair to our people, our citizens and our workers.”

But the bill’s prospects are dim in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority and would have difficulty getting 60 votes to prevent a filibuster. The legislation is expected to face fierce resistance from congressional Democrats and immigrant rights groups and opposition from business leaders and some moderate Republicans in states with large immigrant populations.

Opponents of slashing immigration levels said immigrants help boost the economy and that studies have shown they commit crimes at lower levels than do native-born Americans.

“This is just a fundamental restructuring of our immigration system which has huge implications for the future,” said Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy for the Center for Migration Studies. “This is part of a broader strategy by this administration to rid the country of low-skilled immigrants they don’t favor in favor of immigrants in their image.”

Other critics said the Raise Act, which maintains the annual cap for employment-based green cards at the current level of 140,000, would not increase skilled immigration and could make it more difficult for employers to hire the workers they need. And they noted that Canada and Australia admit more than twice the number of immigrants to their countries as the United States does currently when judged as a percentage of their overall population levels.

“Just because you have a PhD doesn’t mean you’re necessarily more valuable to the U.S. economy,” said Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy. “The best indication of whether a person is employable is if someone wants to hire them.”

Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the CATO Institute, wrote in a blog that the bill “would do nothing to boost skilled immigration and it will only increase the proportion of employment-based green cards by cutting other green cards. Saying otherwise is grossly deceptive marketing.”

Groups that favor stricter immigration policies hailed the legislation as a step in the right direction. Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, said the Raise Act “will do more than any other action to fulfill President Trump’s promises as a candidate to create an immigration system that puts the interests of American workers first.”

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If Stephen Miller and Roy Beck favor it, you can be sure that it’s part of a racist agenda.

PWS

08-02-17

 

BREAKING: GOP’s WAR ON AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE DEFEATED, AGAIN — SENS COLLINS, MURKOWSKI, McCAIN STAND TALL FOR AMERICA — MISOGYNIST GOP, CHURLISH PREZ HURL INSULTS, THREATS! — Also Give Dems Credit For Hanging Together To Save Lives, At Least For Now!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-gop-leaders-work-to-round-up-votes-for-modest-health-care-overhaul/2017/07/27/ac08fc40-72b7-11e7-8839-ec48ec4cae25_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_healthcare-140a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.60f100ad6021

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/female-senators-are-increasingly-on-receiving-end-of-insults-from-male-officials/2017/07/27/6b0b6078-72d7-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_gopmen-817pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.7aab9ead18ac

Excerpts from two reports from the Washington Post:

“Senate Republicans suffered a dramatic failure early Friday in their bid to advance a scaled-back plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, throwing into question whether they can actually repeal the 2010 health law.

Their latest effort to redraw the ACA failed after Sen. John McCain’s decision to side with two other Republicans against President Trump and GOP leaders. The Arizona Republican, diagnosed with brain cancer last week, returned to Washington on Tuesday and delivered a stirring address calling for a bipartisan approach to overhauling the ACA, while criticizing the process that produced the current legislation.

It was a speech that laid the groundwork for Friday’s dramatic vote.

The vote was 49 to 51 — all 48 members of the Democratic caucus joined with McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to block the legislation.”

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“Republican female senators whose disapproval of the GOP health-care effort has at times endangered its progress are facing an increasingly pointed backlash from men in their party, including a handful of comments that invoked physical retaliation.

In the past week, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) has been challenged by a male lawmaker to a duel. She and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) were told that they and others deserve a physical reprimand for their decisions not to support Republican health-care proposals. Murkowski, who voted with Collins against starting the health-care debate this week, was specifically called out by President Trump on Twitter and told by a Cabinet official that Alaska could suffer for her choice, according to a colleague.

The language of retribution increasingly adopted by Republican men reflects Trump’s influence and underscores the challenges GOP women can face when opposing the consensus of their party, which remains dominated by men, outside experts said. A videotape of Trump surfaced during the campaign revealing him bragging in vulgar terms about groping women, and some believed that opened the gates for further insults and degrading behavior toward women.

“Masculine dominance in the Republican Party is not only in numbers but in culture,” said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University and the author of “Navigating Gendered Terrain: Stereotypes and Strategy in Political Campaigns.”

“When the person who is supposed to be the leader of the party shows it’s okay to use those sorts of attacks, whether they are specifically gendered or not, that is something that catches on at other levels,” Dittmar said. “We see it in the [elected officials] who feel it’s okay to say things like this.”

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Gee, are there only three adults in the “romper room” that passes for the Senate GOP? According to NBC’s Chuck Todd on Today, at least a dozen GOP Senators were “secretly relieved” that McCain vetoed the bill. What happened to their backbones? Whatever happened to governing for the good of the country, rather than trying to make good on boneheaded campaign promises? How much taxpayer money has the GOP wasted with its endless bogus votes to repeal Obamacare and the ongoing legislative circus they have been staging? Probably enough to pay for health care in all the rural counties in America.

Oh, and the threats to let Obamacare tank (that’s the latest version of Trump(we don’t)care)? Those hurt most would be the poor and struggling folks out there in Trumpland. Interesting that Democrats were willing to stand up for them, even though the folks in Trumpland were not willing to stand up for the rest of us Americans. Yeah, and no amount of Kris Kobach, Mike Pence obfuscation and outright lying can change the fact that the majority of Americans voted against the Trump Circus in the first place.

I’ve read lots of articles about how the rest of us need to be kind, compassionate, and understanding of the needs and situations of those who voted for Trump. Generally, I agree with that. It’s one country, and we should take care of everyone, including those who have differing ideas and those who can’t take care of themselves. But, as the GOP would say, at some point there has to be at least a little sense of personal responsibility. Don’t the folks who irresponsibly voted for a supremely (and obviously) unqualified individual to occupy the highest office in the land, and compounded the problem by putting a party that can’t (and never really has been) able to govern in power, bear any accountability for the disaster that has followed?

And one more thing. Could we please have a moratorium on articles about the “legislative genius” of Mitch McConnell?

PWS

07-28-17

 

Steven Pearlstein In WonkBlog In The WashPost: When It Comes To Governing, The GOP Is NQRFPT — By A Long Shot! — The President & Party Of Irresponsibility Can’t Duck Responsibility For The Mess THEY Have Created!

NQRFPT = Not Quite Ready For Prime Time 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/20/pearlstein-on-gop-health-care-debacle/?utm_term=.d51013b98429

Pearlstein writes:

“The inability of a Republican Congress and a Republican president to repeal Obamacare, or even just dial it back, is yet the latest demonstration that Republicans simply aren’t ready to govern.

The facile explanation for this is the unresolved division, within the party, between its radical tea party populist wing and its more moderate, business-friendly establishment wing. But the bigger issue is that the party’s elected politicians are unwilling to make the trade-offs that are the essence of what governing is about.

On health care, for example, they promised to lower premiums but refused to embrace any of the three approaches that could accomplish that: increase co-payments and deductibles; squeeze the incomes of doctors, hospitals and drug companies; or finance more of the country’s health care through higher taxes.

. . . .

As a group, they have demonstrated a breathtaking lack of policy knowledge and sophistication, a stubborn disregard for intellectual honesty, lousy political instincts and a broken moral compass. Their leaders have forgotten what it means to lead, if they ever knew, while their backbenchers don’t have a clue of what it takes to be constructive followers. If there were a bankruptcy code for politics, it’s safe to say the Republicans would be in Chapter 11.

This complete abdication of governing responsibility was confirmed Tuesday when the party’s nominal leader, President Trump, announced to the country, “I think we are probably in that position where we will just let Obamacare fail. … I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.”

Even Sen. Shelly Caputo, the reliably party-line toting Republican from West Virginia, was moved to distance herself from that cynical win-at-any-cost strategy. “I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” she said.

“It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world … listening to the stupid s‑‑‑ we have to deal with in this country,” Jamie Dimon, the chairman of JPMorgan Chase, said in an unguarded moment last week. Dimon was quick to add, reflexively, that it wasn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue, but he knows better than that. Republicans were handed a golden opportunity to govern and they have blown it. This one is on them.”

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At the link, read Pearlstein’s complete op-ed which contains many great examples of how the GOP fails to “do the right thing” over and over. And, he only touches on the “gonzoness,” moral vapidness, and complete disregard for sound government and prudent expenditure of public funds demonstrated by Trump’s immigration policies.

PWS

07-21-17

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA — Proposals To Restrict Student Visas & Reduce Legal Immigration Will Hurt Economy, National Standing

These articles from today’s Washington Post highlight three “gonzo” immigration proposals driven by the Trump Administration’s white nationalist agenda.

First, the proposal to require nonimmigrant students in the U.S. to apply for annual extensions of stay would roll back the “duration of status program” for students — arguably the single best and most mutually beneficial efficiency move in the history of INS/USCIS. It would also create chaos in student visa programs that not only keep many colleges and universities financially viable, but also fuel American innovation and technological advances in the STEM fields.

Second, proposals to make visa issuance a law enforcement function within the DHS would lead to chaos in the visa issuing program and probably will result in retaliation by other friendly nations. Visas are part of the foreign commerce of the U.S., not a domestic law enforcement program.

Finally, proposals to reduce legal immigration and further restrict legal opportunities for unskilled workers would deprive the U.S. of workers at a time when the growing economy needs them the most. This short-sighted policy would likely lead to the same type of economic stagnation that has plagued EU countries and Japan over the past several decades.

Read the articles here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-latest-nativist-trump-proposals-would-actually-hurt-american-institutions/2017/07/17/c85765fc-67eb-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?utm_term=.570c8e41fee6

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/17/cutting-legal-immigration-50-percent-might-be-trumps-worst-economic-policy-yet/?utm_term=.ac7808d8383d

Restrictionist policies driven by xenophobia and racism inevitably lead to disaster.

PWS

07-18-17

JAMELLE BOUIE IN SLATE: Trump’s Hypocritical “Defense Of Western Values” Is Really About White Nationalism!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/07/the_white_nationalist_roots_of_donald_trump_s_warsaw_speech.html

Bouie writes:

“Thus far, Donald Trump has governed as a typical Republican president, with the usual suite of tax cuts, deregulation, and conservative nominees for the federal bench. The difference is that unlike his predecessors, Trump isn’t rooted in the tenets of conservativism. Indeed, as a man of id and impulse, it’s hard to say he’s rooted in anything. To the extent that he does have an ideology, it’s a white American chauvinism and its attendant nativism and racism. It was the core of his “birther” crusade against Barack Obama—the claim that for reasons of blood and heritage, Obama couldn’t be legitimate—and the pitch behind his campaign for president. Trump would restore American greatness by erasing the racial legacy of Obama’s presidency: the Hispanic immigration, the Muslim refugees, the black protesters.

Jamelle BouieJAMELLE BOUIE

Jamelle Bouie is Slates chief political correspondent.

This is the reason Trump’s campaign attracted, and his administration employs, men like Jeff Sessions, Stephen Bannon, and Stephen Miller. Sessions, a staunch opponent of federal civil rights enforcement and proponent of radical immigration restriction. Miller, his protégé, whose young career is marked by the same contempt for racial pluralism. Bannon, an entrepreneur with intellectual pretensions whose literary touchstones include virulently racist propaganda, and who brought that sensibility to Breitbart, a news website where “black crime” was a vertical and writers churn out stories on dangerous Muslims. Each shares a vision of a (white) America under siege from Hispanic immigration to the South and Islam to the East. All three are influential in the Trump White House as strategists and propagandists, taking the president’s impulses and molding them into a coherent perspective.

That is the key context for President Trump’s recent remarks in Warsaw, Poland, where he made a defense of “Western civilization.” He praised Poland’s resilience in the face of Nazi aggression and Soviet domination (and stayed quiet on Nazi collaboration within Poland), and celebrated the nation as a beacon of Western values. “A strong Poland is a blessing to the nations of Europe, and they know that. A strong Europe is a blessing to the West and to the world.” (It should be said that U.S. allies in Western Europe are less enthusiastic about the current right-wing Polish government.) From here, Trump presented the West as an empire under siege: “We have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what’s happening out there. They are threats. We will confront them. We will win.”

Although marked by Trump’s characteristic bombast, much of this was in line with past presidential rhetoric, especially during the Cold War when American presidents routinely engaged in this kind of clash of civilizations rhetoric. (It is unclear, though, if previous presidents would have endorsed a narrative that erases victims of Polish anti-Semitism.)

But this isn’t the Cold War. The Soviet Union no longer exists. For Trump then, what are these “dire threats”? The chief one is “radical Islamic terrorism” exported by groups like ISIS. But he doesn’t end there. For Trump, these threats are broader than particular groups or organizations; they are internal as well as external.

“We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are,” said Trump. “If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.”

Not content to leave his message understated, Trump hammered home this idea in a subsequent line. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” said the president, before posing a series of questions: “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

In the context of terrorism specifically, a deadly threat but not an existential one, this is overheated. But it’s clear Trump has something else in mind: immigration. He’s analogizing Muslim migration to a superpower-directed struggle for ideological conquest. It’s why he mentions “borders,” why he speaks of threats from “the South”—the origin point of Hispanic immigrants to the United States and Muslim refugees to Europe—and why he warns of internal danger.

This isn’t a casual turn. In these lines, you hear the influence of Bannon and Miller. The repeated references to Western civilization, defined in cultural and religious terms, recall Bannon’s 2014 presentation to a Vatican conference, in which he praised the “forefathers” of the West for keeping “Islam out of the world.” Likewise, the prosaic warning that unnamed “forces” will sap the West of its will to defend itself recalls Bannon’s frequent references to the Camp of the Saints, an obscure French novel from 1973 that depicts a weak and tolerant Europe unable to defend itself from a flotilla of impoverished Indians depicted as grotesque savages and led by a man who eats human feces.

For as much as parts of Trump’s speech fit comfortably in a larger tradition of presidential rhetoric, these passages are clear allusions to ideas and ideologies with wide currency on the white nationalist right.

Defenders of the Warsaw speech call this reading “hysterical,” denying any ties between Trump’s rhetoric in Poland and white nationalism. But to deny this interpretation of the speech, one has to ignore the substance of Trump’s campaign, the beliefs of his key advisers, and the context of Poland itself and its anti-immigrant, ultranationalist leadership. One has to ignore the ties between Bannon, Miller, and actual white nationalists, and disregard the active circulation of those ideas within the administration. And one has to pretend that there isn’t a larger intellectual heritage that stretches back to the early 20thcentury, the peak of American nativism, when white supremacist thinkers like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard penned works with language that wouldn’t feel out of place in Trump’s address.

“Unless we set our house in order, the doom will sooner or later overtake us all. And that would mean that the race obviously endowed with he greatest creative ability, the race which had achieved most in the past and which gave the richer promise for the future, had passed away, carrying with it to the grave those potencies upon which the realization of man’s highest hopes depends,” wrote Stoddard in his 1920 book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy. Compare this to the crest of Trump’s remarks in Warsaw, which follows his warning of internal threat and his praise of Western civilization:

What we have, what we inherited from our—and you know this better than anybody, and you see it today with this incredible group of people—what we’ve inherited from our ancestors has never existed to this extent before. And if we fail to preserve it, it will never, ever exist again.

Those lines fit comfortably into a long history of white nationalist rhetoric. They in no way resemble Ronald Reagan’s words in Berlin or John Kennedy’s speeches in defense of the “free world.”

To read those previous presidential speeches is to see what makes Trump distinctive. Kennedy and Reagan defined “the West” in ideological terms—a world of free elections and free markets. It’s an inclusive view; presumably, any country that adopts these institutions enters that community of nations. For Trump, “the West” is defined by ties of culture and religion. It’s why a government that disdains democratic institutions, like Poland’s, can still stand as a vanguard of Western civilization, and why Muslim immigration is a chief threat to the integrity of Europe. What makes this racial is its relationship to Trump’s other rhetoric. If Western civilization is defined by religion and culture, then Mexico—with its Catholic heritage and historic ties to European monarchies—is unquestionably an outpost of “the West.” But for Trump and his advisers, it too is a threat to the Western order.

Donald Trump went to Europe and, in keeping with his campaign and influences, gave a speech with clear links to white nationalist thought. To pretend otherwise, to ignore the context of this address—to place Trump in a vacuum of history and politics, divorced from his own persona—is, at best, to cross the line into willful ignorance.”

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Trump has clearly shown himself to be a person of no values whatsoever. Although his xenophobic, white nationalist/racist agenda appears to be little more that political opportunism — parroting concepts developed by Sessions, Bannon, Miller & company — that doesn’t make it any less problematic — or dangerous.

PWS

07-07-17