WHAT DOES TRUMP HAVE IN COMMON WITH THE GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY OTHER THAN AUDACIOUS DISHONESTY AND A PENCHANT FOR FRAUD? — PERHAPS, MUELLER & CO ARE GOING TO “ROLL UP” THE TRUMPSTERS JUST THE WAY THEY DID THE GAMBINOS! – Will Rick Gates Be The Reincarnation of “Sammy The Bull?”

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02/rick-gates-robert-mueller-donald-trump

Abigail Tracy writes in Vanity Fair:

“Even among some of Donald Trump’s allies, there is a sense of astonishment at the White House’s handling of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. “It’s like no one took down the Gambino family,” Steve BannontoldChris Whipple in a book adaptation the Hive published this week. “Mueller’s doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Paul] Manafort’s the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates is a made man!” Indeed, Mueller, who led the F.B.I. takedown of the infamous crime family in the early 1990s, famously cutting a deal with Sammy the Bull to flip on mob boss John Gotti, appears to be executing what some have called a “Gambino-style roll-up.” First, he flippedformer Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; then, he turnedousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. Now, CNN reports, Mueller appears to be in the final stages of a plea deal with Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman and a longtime business associate of Manafort, who was indicted alongside him last fall.

The White House reportedly views Gates’s testimony as a threat to Manafort, and not to the president. “There’d be no anxiety here,” a White House official told CNN when asked about the possibility that Gates will cut a deal. The charges against the two, after all, had nothing do with Russian collusion; the 12 counts included failure to register as a foreign agent, false and misleading statements related to that registration, and seven counts of improper foreign financial reporting—all as part of a broader conspiracy to launder millions of dollars from their consulting work in Ukraine into the United States. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, and is fighting the charges. But Gates, who has also pleaded not guilty, has been grappling with financial troubles and difficulties with his legal team. According to CNN, he has been in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team of F.B.I. investigators for about a month, and has already given an interview in which he would have revealed any knowledge he might have of criminal activity that could be traded for leniency or immunity in sentencing.

What this means for the White House isn’t exactly clear. While Manafort’s reign as campaign chairman and Gates’s role as his deputy were short-lived, the duo oversaw a series of events and interactions that have come under intense scrutiny in the ongoing Justice Department probe. Manafort and Gates ran the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, during which Donald Trump Jr. held his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. They were also on board during the Republican National Convention, where a number of Trump campaign officials and surrogates met with Russian officials and campaign officials altered the language of the official G.O.P. platform on Ukraine to be more sympathetic to Russian interests. While Manafort was replaced by Bannon after The New York Times alleged that handwritten ledgers showed millions in undisclosed cash payments designated for Manafort in Ukraine—a claim Manafort denies—Gates continued to work with the Trump campaign through the transition, and served as a senior official on Trump’s inaugural committee.”

For now, the most significant facts in the case remain under lock. Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the panel has discovered evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign, as well as evidence of subsequent obstruction. “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation,” Schiff toldreporters. Whether that information is actionable remains to be seen. According to the White House’s own budget request, the administration expects Mueller’s investigation to continue well into next year, despite repeated assurances from the president’s legal team that it was approaching a conclusion. If Gates has the goods, perhaps it will end sooner.

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No, the “Don of Con” isn’t “in the clear” as he incredibly asserts. In fact, it appears that the noose is slowly tightening. Exactly the kind of “dangling in the wind” to which The Don likes to subject those subordinates whom he suspects of disloyalty.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And, there’s so much smoke surrounding The Don, his family, and his current and former associates right now that it’s a miracle nobody in the White House has succumbed to smoke inhalation.

PWS

02-17-18

BESS LEVIN @ VANITY FAIR – TRUMP FINDS A NEW WAY TO BE “A JERK” – PLANNING ANOTHER BOGUS ATTACK ON LEGAL IMMIGRANTS BY EXPANDING CONCEPT OF “PUBLIC CHARGE”

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02/trumps-spending-spree-global-sell-off-hellacious

Bess actually used a more “colorful descriptor” for Trump. But, since this is a “Family Based Blog” I toned it down a bit. You can go on over to the “Levin Report” at Vanity Fair at the above link for the “tell it like it is” version.

Donald Trump finds a new and unique way to be [ a jerk]

They said it couldn’t be done. They said it wasn’t possible. They said how could he, when he’s seemingly exhausted all possible avenues for an achievement like this? They underestimated him, yet again:

The Trump administration is considering making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to get permanent residency if they have received certain public benefits such as food assistance, in a move that could sharply restrict legal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security has drafted proposed new rules seen by Reuters that would allow immigration officers to scrutinize a potential immigrant’s use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits to determine if they could become a public burden.

For example, U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.

The draft, which reads a lot like it was written by senior adviser Stephen “white American males should be a protected class” Miller, states: “Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient and are relying on the U.S. government and state and local entities for resources instead of their families, sponsors or private organizations. An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the United States.” As a reminder, when the administration was trying to make the case that the U.S. should restrict the number of refugees it allows into the country to the lowest levels since 1980, it conveniently left out data that showed refugees generate $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost over the last decade. So take the latest immigrants are a drain on the economy and preventing us from Making America Great Again screed with a grain of salt.

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Yeah, whatever term you use, Trump and his White Nationalist xenophobic, racist cabal are at it again. Masses of folks coming to the US to get “welfare” is another “restrictionist myth” used to distort the immigration debate, and whip up anti-immigrant sentiment.

PWS

02-09-18

 

BESS LEVIN @ VANITY FAIR: BULLY-IN-CHIEF “THREATENS STOCK MARKETS!” – “What’s he going to do to the ‘Stock Market’? Fire it? Send it back to its country of origin? Demand it produce its long-form birth certificate?” – NOW THAT THEY ARE IN CHARGE, GOP “SPENDS LIKE DRUNKEN SAILORS,” LEAVING POOR, MIDDLE CLASS, AND FUTURE GENERATIONS TO PICK UP TAB FOR TAX CUTS THAT LINE FAT CATS’ POCKETS!

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02/trump-stock-market-big-mistake

Bess writes:

“Earlier this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted a record-setting 1,597 points, the biggest point decline in history during a single trading session. Donald Trump, who has patted himself on the back for gains in the stock market on a near daily basis since becoming president, was uncharacteristically silent on the matter, while the White House suddenly claimed it was focused on the long-term health of the economy, rather than short-term market fluctuations. However, given his uniquely thin skin, not to mention the fact that the Dow dared to take a nosedive in the middle of one of his speeches, it was only a matter of time before the president weighed in on the matter.

What we expected: perhaps an angry rant sent from his bed in the East Wing, or maybe a targeted attack on one of the many experts who have said, more or less, that he was a fool for tying himself to the market. (Trump may “fancy himself a great expert,” Horizon Investments chief global strategist Greg Valliere told me, but “the markets are . . . tricky and they’re really humbling. Not to be cliché, but you live by the sword and you die by the sword.”) But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine Trump’s counterattack would be something so magnificent as this:

It’s only one tweet. But there’s so much to appreciate:

  1. When Trump says the stock market went down because of “good news,” what he’s referring to is the fact that many have attributed Monday’s drop (as well as last Friday’s) to the strong U.S. employment numbers which, among other things, are leading traders to fear higher wage demands and rising inflation, at a time when the economy is getting a giant, yuuuge stimulus in the form of the tax cuts. Trump was actually warned by a lot of people, who he didn’t listen to, that given where unemployment was—at a multi-year low—and the relative strength of the economy, now was the exact wrong time for a stimulus. (“Passing the tax reform bill is like throwing a small cup of gasoline on a fire that’s already burning,” one expert said.) But he did it anyway, because he’s stupid, and now the markets are worried about a recession (which Trump was also warned about).
  2. You know he has literally no idea how modern financial markets operate and that his basis for the stock market is a bunch of guys holding up little pieces of paper and shouting on the floor of the stock exchange.
  3. Isn’t it great that Trump believes he can bully and intimidate the “Stock Market” like he does his political enemies? What’s he going to do to the “Stock Market”? Fire it? Send it back to its country of origin? Demand it produce its long-form birth certificate?
  4. We’re calling it now: the president is one indignity away from giving the stock market a derogatory epithet. Watch your back, Liddle Stock Market! Fake Tears Stock Market! Low Energy Stock Market! Sad!

Trump (probably) won’t get another shutdown, after all

On Tuesday, the president of the United States said that he’d “love” to see the federal government shut down should Democrats fail to give him what he wants re: cracking down on illegal immigration. But for once, lawmakers do not seem inclined to oblige him. On Wednesday, Senate leaders announcedthat they’d reached a bipartisan spending agreement. And not just anyspending agreement, but a real deficit-buster that will raise spending caps by roughly $300 billion over the next two years. According to The New York Times, the limit imposed on military spending—by a 2011 deal “once seen as a key triumph for Republicans”—will be increased by $80 billion for the current fiscal year and $85 billion for the next one. Nondefense spending will increase by $63 billion this year and $68 billion next year. And while most Republicans have long since given up pretending to care about “fiscal responsibility,” not everyone is pleased.

Jason Pye, vice president FreedomWorks, told the Times that the deal “isn’t just fiscally irresponsible, it’s an abomination,” adding that “no one in Congress who claims that they’re a deficit hawk or a fiscal conservative can justifiably vote for [it].” Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan was practically in tears over the idea that Paul Ryan, whom he thought he could trust, would betray his Ayn Randian ideals in such a heinous fashion. Calling the agreement a “monstrosity,” he fumed to Politico “I just never thought that Speaker Ryan—with his history and his background in budget issues, and his concern with the debt and deficit issue—I just never thought that this would be something that the Congress would put forward.” Freedom Caucus member Mo Brooks likewise told reporters, “I’m not only a no; I’m a hell no,” and basically compared the deal to a narcotic: “This spending bill is a debt junkie’s dream,” he said. “Quite frankly, I’m astonished that the Republican Party seems to be the party of big government in this day and age.”

Nancy Pelosi also said she wouldn’t support the budget, but for reasons that Jordan would sooner spit in his mother’s face than get behind. From the House floor, Pelosi said that without an accompanying commitment from Ryan or Mitch McConnell to debate legislation to protect Dreamers, “[the] package does not have my support, nor does it it have the support of a large number of members of our caucus.”

Read the rest of the “Levin Report” at the link.
Another “right on” observation:
  1. “You know he has literally no idea how modern financial markets operate and that his basis for the stock market is a bunch of guys holding up little pieces of paper and shouting on the floor of the stock exchange.”

Kind says it all about what Trump voters and the GOP are doing to America. Ignorance, arrogance, bullying, incoherence, irrationality — what more could we ask for in a “Supreme Leader?” Let’s celebrate with a big (expensive) parade!

PWS

02-08-18

 

THINK THE TRUMP GOP TAX GIVEAWAY TO THE FAT CATS WAS OUTRAGEOUS? – WAIT TILL YOU GET A LOAD OF TRUMP’S LATEST SCAMS!

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/01/trumps-infrastructure-plan-should-scare-the-crap-out-of-you

Bess Levin at Vanity Fair with the “Levin Report:”

“WHY TRUMP’S INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN SHOULD SCARE THE CRAP OUT OF YOU

The president wants to apply his hotel-licensing model to a $1.5 trillion government initiative.

If you only paid attention to the words that tumbled out of his mouth, you might believe that Donald Trump was a successful real-estate developer, just like you might also think he’s a “stable genius” with a “winning temperament” who had a shot with Princess Diana. In reality, none of these things are true. In the wake of multiple bankruptcies, the Trump Organization shifted from developing properties on its own to licensing its founder’s name to others for multi-million-dollar fees, in what Forbes once called a “low-effort, low-risk, high-reward cash flow proposition.” With no capital on the line, Trump was free to sit back with a taco bowl, take a cut of the profit, and deal with none of the consequences if and when a project ran into trouble. And now, he wants to apply the same model to a $1.5 trillion infrastructure deal.

In his State of the Union speech last night, Trump said that he was “calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need,” noting that “every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment—to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.” Previously, the administration had said it would put in $200 billion and would expect the private sector, along with state and local governments, to pony up $800 billion for a nice, round $1 trillion plan. Now they’re apparently going to have to dig a little deeper, for no other apparent reason than because Trump thinks $1.5 trillion sounds better. That might seem like a great deal for the federal government, except for the fact that by allocating a mere $200 billion—when you take the White House’s proposed infrastructure cuts into account, it comes out as even less—they’ll have to prioritize corporate profits over the actual needs of the public.

In order to get a return on their investment, which is—understandably!—the only reason private companies will want to get involved here, the government will naturally offer them lucrative tax breaks. But, as The Washington Post points out, unlike typical public-private partnerships wherein the government is the ultimate owner of the road or bridge constructed by a private company, it’ll all be under private ownership.

“PriveCo Equity Partners [get] a gigantic tax incentive to build the bridge, which the company now owns—and which will charge tolls on [it] in perpetuity. Taxpayers could shell out nearly as much in tax incentives to the private company as we would have spent to just build the bridge, and then on top of that you’ll have to pay tolls to cross it—forever. As long as the bridge stands, people are paying extra so PriveCo Equity Partners can make a profit.”

And because Trump & Co. will pay for no more than 20 percent of any given project, states and localities that don’t have the extra funds will most likely be shit out of luck. As the Post’s Paul Waldman notes, “the focus on private investment . . . will naturally privilege projects that can generate a profit for private companies, which probably won’t be the most sorely needed upgrades.” According to a new report released this week by the left-leaning Democracy Forward, under the rubric for judging grant applicants, a whopping 70 percent of a project’s score “would be based on the availability of non-federal revenue,” whereas the “economic and social returns” it could generate make up 5 percent. Sorry, Flint, Michigan! You don’t really need new pipes, right?

Of course, this was all by design. Less scary than the fact that Trump’s friends might financially benefit from the plan is the promise (threat?) he made last night that “any bill must . . . streamline the permitting and approval process,” by which he means gut environmental protections and put public health at risk. On the bright side, no one actually believes that President Hard Hat’s plan will come to fruition, at least not in its current form. “Not to be morbid, but an infrastructure catastrophe could move the needle . . . and spur congressional action,” political strategist Chris Kruegertold Business Insider. “Barring some kind of morbid catalyst, [the plan’s passage] seems extremely unlikely.”

Since the day the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was formed, Republicans have been raving about how it’s an unconstitutional menace that must be stopped. Unfortunately for people like Representative Jeb Hensarling, who thinks the bureau is a “dictator,” a court has more or less declared that this argument is bullshit:

The structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is constitutional, an appeals court ruled Wednesday in a blow to President Donald Trump’s efforts to ease regulations on the financial system.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made the ruling in a battle over whether the president could remove the director at will. The court in October had upheld a challenge to the structure but agreed to rehear the case.

Republicans had challenged the C.F.P.B. structure on grounds that the director’s position was unaccountable to the executive branch.

On the bright side, now that the C.F.P.B.’s acting director is a guy who thinks the place shouldn’t exist, he can simply chip away at it from the inside. It’ll require a little more effort and creativity, but if anybody is up to the challenge, it’s MickThe C.F.P.B. is a sick, sad jokeMulvaney.

You get a Twinkie! And you get a Twinkie!

Hostess Brands is using its tax bill savings to reward employees with snacks:

The company, which makes Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, is providing its employees one-time payments of $1,250—with $750 in cash and $500 in the form of a 401(k) contribution. In taking the step, Hostess cited last month’s tax legislation, which slashed the rate for U.S. corporations.

It’s also offering a year’s worth of free food to workers—though they won’t be able to eat all the Ding Dongs they like. A representative from each of Hostess’s bakeries will choose a product each week, and the employees will be able to take home a multipack of that item. The company also makes Hostess CupCakes, Fruit Pies, and Donettes.”

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Gotta love it!

Billions for the fat cats, “Twinkies” for the workers. And, while working his infrastructure scam, Trump and his GOP kleptocrats will be trashing our environment and destroying our health care. I suppose they all will eventually move to a (“Whites Only” — Sorry Ben & Tim) “tax haven” somewhere offshore leaving the rest of us sick and dying in a looted country with an “infrastructure” that nobody needs any more!

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Meanwhile, over at Bloomberg News, reporter Ben Penn exposes a Trump Administration scheme to allow management to steal billions of dollars from waitresses and waiters! That’s right, folks, Trump’s GOP kleptocrats are busy scheming to transfer wealth from the lowest rungs on the economic ladder to the well-to-do! When the Labor Department’s own internal analysis exposed this “ripoff in the making,” the Trumpsters did what any good kleptocrat would do — tried to hide the results from the public (so much for the Trump White House claim of “transparency” in the release of “Vladi’s Agent Devon’s” memo).

“Labor Dept. Ditches Data Showing Bosses Could Skim Waiters’ Tips

Posted Feb. 1, 2018, 6:01 AM

Labor Department leadership scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that showed employees could lose out on billions of dollars in gratuities, four current and former DOL sources tell Bloomberg Law.

The agency shelved the economic analysis, compiled by DOL staff, from a December proposal to scrap an Obama administration rule. The proposal would permit tip pooling arrangements that involve restaurant servers and other workers who make tips and back-of-the-house workers who don’t. It sparked outrage from worker advocates who said the move would permit management to essentially skim gratuities by participating in the pools themselves.

Senior department political officials—faced with a government analysis showing that workers could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal—ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact, several of the sources said. Although later calculations showed progressively reduced tip losses, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and his team are said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal. The officials disagreed with assumptions in the analysis that employers would retain their employees’ gratuities, rather than redistribute the money to other hourly workers. They wound up receiving approval from the White House to publish a proposal Dec. 5 that removed the economic transfer data altogether, the sources said.

The move to drop the analysis means workers, businesses, advocacy groups, and others who want to weigh in on the tip pool proposal will have to do so without seeing the government’s estimate first. The public notice-and-comment period for the proposal is set to end Feb. 5.

The new revelation lends credence to concerns from Democrats and labor organizers that the proposed rule will short change workers. It also raises questions about how much the DOL intends to take public feedback into account in shaping a final version of the rule.

The current and former DOL sources, hailing from both political parties, were all independently briefed by people involved in the rulemaking. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to prevent retaliation against themselves and others.

The Labor Department “works to provide the public accurate analysis based on informed assumptions” a DOL spokesman told Bloomberg Law in an email. The spokesman noted that the department asked the public to comment with suggestions about how to quantify the rule’s impact as part of the proposal. “As previously stated, after receiving public comment, the Department intends to publish an informed cost benefit analysis as part of any final rule.”

The DOL did not address Bloomberg Law’s inquiry as to why the agency did not include the completed transfer analysis in the proposed rule.

The department has previously defended criticism of the proposal by saying the move would lead to higher pay for some low-wage workers who don’t traditionally earn tips, such as dishwashers. The DOL has also argued that managers would be dissuaded from stealing tips, out of fear of employee turnover and decreased morale. The department further noted that it included in the proposal a qualitative analysis, which doesn’t include dollar figures.

OMB Involvement Unclear

Former career and political officials at the DOL and the White House Office of Management and Budget, joined by business and employee-side regulatory attorneys, all told Bloomberg Law that scrapping a completed analysis from a significant proposal would mark a troubling departure from the government’s mission. Agencies and OMB are expected to ensure that all available data are brought to bear during notice-and-comment rulemaking, the sources said.

White House Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory review staff was familiar with the data, before the proposed rule was released, sources said. It’s not clear whether OMB Director Mick Mulvaney approved the deletion of the numbers or whether Neomi Rao, who runs OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, was involved in the decision.

“We do not comment on the interagency review process,” an OMB senior official told Bloomberg Law in an email responding to a series of questions directed at OIRA.

Representatives for the White House and Mulvaney did not respond to requests for comment.

“I have to wonder about the internal pressure brought to bear on OIRA in this case, because historically OIRA’s position has been that analysis is a good thing,” Stuart Shapiro, a career policy analyst at OIRA in the Clinton and Bush presidencies,” told Bloomberg Law. “It helps us make better decisions, it helps us increase the transparency of the regulatory effort.” Shapiro, who reviewed labor regulations in his tenure at the office, is now a Rutgers University professor researching the regulatory process.

Bloomberg Law has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the transfer report, which is being processed by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.

Transparency in Question

The proposal rescinds a 2011 rule that asserted tips are the property of workers who earn them. That revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act covered scenarios in which restaurants and other employers supplemented tipped workers’ earnings by paying at least the full minimum wage.

Since the rule’s release in December, worker advocacy groups and Obama administration officials have vehemently opposed it. They point to language that permits companies to keep gratuities for themselves, provided they pay workers at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and don’t apply a tip credit that allows them to pay as little as $2.13 per hour, depending on the state.

The left-leaning think tank Economic Policy Institute attempted to fill the data void by producing an analysis of its own. EPI predicts the proposed rule on tips would lead to $5.8 billion changing hands from workers to businesses, rather than being redistributed among employees as the DOL leadership suggested.

Some worker advocacy attorneys say the absence of the data might violate administrative law.

The existence of economic data has not been previously reported. It comes as President Donald Trump’s labor secretary and OIRA administrator have said they are committed to good government and transparent notice-and-comment rulemaking as they implement the White House demands to cut unnecessary regulations issued during the Obama administration.

Some attorneys have theorized that the Trump administration fast-tracked this rescission to moot the restaurant industry’s request that the U.S. Supreme Court grant review and invalidate the Obama tipping rule.

Acosta Optics

News of the scrapped analysis comes as Acosta has tried to avoid being cast as putting business interests above employees in various legal and regulatory moves.

David Weil, Wage and Hour Division administrator under President Barack Obama, called the new tip rule a boon for the restaurant industry,

“I think it is simply a statement of fact that Secretary Acosta and the people in the political side of the Labor Department who pushed that rule, which was a wonderful Christmas present to the National Restaurant Association, didn’t want the public to understand what kind of transfer we’re talking about,” Weil told Bloomberg Law in December, before the news of an existing analysis publicly surfaced.

Democrats have also placed their thumb on the scale when it comes to regulatory analyses, Leon Sequeira, who ran the DOL policy office in the George W. Bush administration, said.

“Economic analysis is a political football in every administration,” Sequeira told Bloomberg Law. He said the Obama administration DOL provided inadequate cost-benefit analyses that understated the compliance costs on businesses. “If the agency feels that it doesn’t have sufficient information to perform as robust an analysis as some may like, then that’s the precise purpose of the proposed rulemaking—to say to all of these critics, if you’ve got a better idea or different analysis or additional information, by all means send it in.”

“It’s at the final stage, when the agency makes its final decision, that folks need to be concerned about evaluating the rulemaking,” said Sequeira, now a management-side employment attorney in Washington.

The More Data the Better

The DOL insisted in the rule proposal that uncertain employer responses make it difficult to produce reliable estimates of managers participating in tip pools and how customers might change their tipping habits. Former agency officials said, however, that the regulation breaks from protocol because it is still the department’s duty to release a best attempt at the data in the proposed rule.

“To punt on that and say we’ll let the public come up with the economic analysis, that’s really not how the process is intended to work,” Michael Hancock, a former assistant administrator at the WHD, told Bloomberg Law. “The agency has an obligation to provide its best judgment on what the likely impact is economically, and that will give the public an opportunity to comment on that.”

The DOL proposal explained that an analysis of potential benefits and transfers is too speculative at this stage. “The Department is unable to quantify how customers will respond to proposed regulatory changes, which in turn would affect total tipped income and employer behavior,” the agency stated.

One trade association executive, who had no prior knowledge of a shelved analysis, told Bloomberg Law that when it comes to rulemaking, the more information the better. “I would just be troubled if the agency had done economic work that’s directly relevant to rulemaking, and for any reason chose not to include that, because the public has a right to know everything about the rule,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to address an issue that doesn’t affect the trade association’s members.

The National Restaurant Association, by far the trade group most invested in the rulemaking, has been a massive supporter of the effort. An economic analysis isn’t relevant to this discussion because the 2011 version of the rule didn’t include that type of analysis either, Angelo Amador, the NRA’s senior vice president and regulatory counsel, told Bloomberg Law in December. Plus, Amador said he believes he has the law on his side.

“I do not see how an economic analysis has an impact either way on something that they don’t have the authority to do,” he said. The NRA has litigated the Obama rule since 2011 and has filed a request for review that is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Two circuit courts have called the rule an abuse of agency rulemaking authority.

Tough to Estimate

In reality, both business and employee-side sources told Bloomberg Law that it’s difficult to arrive at a confident estimate on this rule change, because of many possible employer and customer reactions, and interactions with a maze of state and local minimum wage laws.

The new methods ordered by the DOL leadership on the tip pool rule reduced the transfer total by changing the industries affected and how the rule would interact with state laws, which dropped the total, a few sources said.

Hancock, whose 20-year career at the WHD spanned three presidents from both parties, said that during the approximately 15-20 economically significant rules he’s worked on, he never once witnessed the agency excluding the cost-benefit analysis from a significant regulation. Lack of data accuracy is no excuse, Hancock said.

“If their view is they’re not really confident with the data you have, you put it out there, you identify those areas where you have uncertainty about the data, and invite the public to fill in those gaps,” said Hancock, who is now of counsel at plaintiff-side firm Cohen Milstein in New York.

The Labor Department’s policy shop played a central role in the tip pooling proposal, as is customary for significant rules. Sequeira, who was heavily involved with the WHD and other agencies in developing regulatory economic analyses in the prior Republican DOL, stopped short of saying whether the DOL behaved inappropriately in this circumstance.

“It’s hard to say,” Sequeira said. “That’s the age-old conspiracy theory with virtually every regulatory proposal that comes out.”

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Kleptocracy, secrecy, anti-democracy, Putinism are at work every day the corrupt Trump Administration and the GOP enablers are in power. The Con-Man-In-Chief!

PWS

02-02-18

BESS LEVIN @ VANITY FAIR: “TRUMP’S ENTIRE NATIVIST AGENDA IS BASED ON A LIE” — OF COURSE WE NEED MORE LEGAL FOREIGN WORKERS – AND NOT JUST “ROCKET SCIENTISTS” – EVEN TRUMP’S BUSINESSES CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ‘EM!

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/01/trumps-entire-nativist-agenda-is-based-on-a-lie-immigration-trump-winery?mbid=nl_th_5a6274f87df577764ae9be8c&CNDID=48297443&spMailingID=12789821&spUserID=MjMzNDQ1MzU1ODE2S0&spJobID=1321960766&spReportId=MTMyMTk2MDc2NgS2

Levin writes:

“They’re taking our jobs . . . They’re taking our money. They’re killing us,” is how then-candidate Donald Trumpcharacterized immigrants in July 2015. For nearly two and a half years, the man who practically founded his campaign on anti-immigrant sentiment—“when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” was his first attempt at a presidential address—has warned his fellow Americans that immigrants and refugees, regardless of their status, are undermining the economy, driving down wages, and mooching off government benefits at every level. Based on this argument, a man who’s sourced two-thirds of his spouses from Eastern Europe has vowed to increase border control to unprecedented levels; repeatedly demanded a multi-billion-dollar wall that even his chief of staff has called “uninformed”; proffered legislation that would slash legal immigration by 50 percent over the next decade; and made the case that the U.S. should reducethe number of refugees that will be allowed into the country to the lowest level since the Refugee Act of 1980 was created. But one needn’t look further than Trump’s own family business to see that the president’s logic is completely bunk.

Amidst the slew of anti-immigrant rhetoric that spews from the White House on a daily basis, BuzzFeed News reports Trump Winery—an establishment that trades in “Welch’s grape jelly with alcohol” and is owned by Eric Trump—has sought permission to hire 23 more foreign guest workers, according to a Department of Labor petition. The workers were requested under the H-2 visa program, which allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers on temporary work visas, as long as no qualified U.S. workers want the jobs they’ll be hired to fill. BuzzFeed also reports that companies bearing the Trump name are perennial users of the program, having requested more than 400 H-2 visas since the ex-real-estate developer announced his candidacy. (Neither the White House nor the winery responded to BuzzFeed’s request for comment.)

All of which, ironically, highlights the critical role immigrant labor plays in the U.S. economy—in fact, there is a large amount of evidence that a number of industries (and Mar-a-Lago) wouldn’t survive without it. In April, more than a thousand economists wrote an open letter to the president to give him a refresher on the importance of immigration to the U.S. economy. Separately, experts have estimated that given that as much as 70 percent of the U.S. agricultural workforce doesn’t have valid immigration papers, a wide-scale crackdown could essentially demolish the farming industry. (As Bank of America’s Ethan Harris noted in February, “There’s no way to get people out of the city and into the country to pick crops on short notice without a very dramatic increase in wages”; such an increase would represent a death blow to an industry where profits are already tanking, and which would struggle to afford the spike without passing on massive costs to consumers.) Oh, and remember Trump’s big infrastructure plan—coming any day now!—? Without immigrant labor, it’s basically dead on arrival.

Trump’s White House, of course, has done its best to bury these facts. Back in September, The New York Timesrevealed that after the Department of Health and Human Services found that refugees generated $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost over the past decade, Trump officials, lead by Lady Liberty nemesisStephen Miller, simply rejected the draft. Instead, the three-page report that was ultimately submitted “[used] government data to compare the costs of refugees to Americans and [made] no mention of revenues contributed by refugees.” Presumably, Team Trump will rely on that “data” when it sets the number of refugees the U.S. will take in for the fiscal year, the deadline for which is October 1.”

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Of course we don’t need cuts in legal immigration. And, contrary to what the Trumpsters would have you believe, most adult “family immigrants” work in jobs that are important to our economy. Also, because they have family here, it’s actually easier for them to “adjust and fit in” — something the White Nationalists are always fretting about.

PWS

0123-18

HEALTH NEWS — MIRACLE CURE? — Sessions “Miraculously” Regains Previously Lost Memory! — What’s His Secret?

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/11/jeff-sessions-george-papadopoulos-russia

Abigail Tracy in Vanity Fair:

“Back in June, there was some cause for concern that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was having memory problems. When questioned from multiple angles during multiple appearances before Congressional investigators about the Trump campaign‘s relationship to Russia, Sessions‘s consistent refrain was: “I don’t recall.” He gave an equally evasive response when Minnesota Senator Al Franken specifically asked whether surrogates from the Trump campaign had communicated with Russians during the 2016 election in October. “I did not, and I’m not aware of anyone else that did, and I don’t believe it happened,” Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee under oath. (He made similar statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee.)

Now, however, Sessions has reportedly changed his tune. Citing a source familiar with Sessions’s thinking, NBC News reported on Thursday that the attorney general—who served as a top Trump surrogate and headed the then-presidential hopeful’s national security team—does in fact recall rejecting George Papadopoulos’s offer to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin, after the Republican candidate stopped short of ruling out the idea.

. . . .

Perhaps Sessions‘s memory was jogged by mounting bipartisan calls for him to return to Capitol Hill to clarify his statements and shed light on Papadopoulos’s account. “Jeff Sessions concealed his meetings with the Russians and he had an obligation to be more forthcoming about meetings that involved Papadopoulos,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN. Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, added of Sessions‘s presence at the meetings that he “certainly think[s] it’s a legitimate area of inquiry” for Congressional investigators to pursue.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Gosh, those worried that our AG had suffered some type of permanent brain damage must be relieved to know that his loss of short-term memory, although serious, was merely temporary. Apparently, it was triggered by the stress of having to testify under oath before his former Senate colleagues.

But, never fear, Gonzo was back at it today pushing his anti-immigrant, White Nationalist, restrictionist agenda in New York.

I suspect there is more to this story. Who knows what else Gonzo might “recall” as he slowly recovers his memory.

PWS

11-02-17

 

TRUMP’S NEXT ATTACK ON AMERICA: LEGAL IMMIGRATION!

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/07/trump-legal-immigration-crackdown

Bess Levin writes in Vanity Fair:

“The most public components of Donald Trump’s nativist agenda are also, somewhat reassuringly, the most symbolic. Yes, the president wants to build an expensive wall along the southern border to keep “rapists” and “criminals” from Mexico from illegally entering the country, but as even Republicans have pointed out, building a wall is just about the least effective way to secure the border. Life will go on, regardless of whether the president adds an extra foot or two of barbed wire to the eyesore that already stretches across several hundred miles of Texas, Arizona, and California. Trump also wants a figurative fence around the country, in the form of his executive order banning travel from several Muslim-majority countries, but said ban was always designed to be temporary. The president’s long-term ambitions to curtail immigration, meanwhile, have mostly flown under the radar: a plan dreamt up by the White House’s resident nationalists Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller to crack down on legal immigration.

Now, Trump’s endgame appears to be moving into public view. According to a new report from Politico, Miller and Bannon—the latter of whom apparently keeps reminders to himself to restrict immigration “scribbled on the walls of his office” like other people keep reminders to order more ink for the printer—have been working on a bill with Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue that would cut the number of legal immigrants coming into the U.S. by half, to 500,000, as of 2027. The bill is said to be a “revised and expanded” version of the RAISE Act that Cotton and Perdue presented in February and discussed with the president in March.

The lawmakers, along with Miller, Bannon, and Trump, argue that allowing lower-skilled immigrants into the country hurts job prospects and suppresses wages for American-born workers. In addition to wanting to restrict the overall number of legal immigrants, they want to shift to a merit-based system in which foreigners who are granted entry, for example, hold advanced degrees or demonstrate a particular “extraordinary ability” in their given field. That dovetails with the White House’s desire to “limit citizenship and migration to those who pay taxes and earn higher wages.” Last month, in a display of his infinite generosity, particularly toward those who haven’t “made a fortune,” Trump promised that legislation banning legal immigrants from coming into the U.S. if they were expected to rely on any kind of welfare would be coming “very shortly.”

The move will likely appeal to Trump’s base. Unfortunately, a restrictionist immigration policy could backfire for the same set of voters. In April, 1,470 economists wrote an open letter to the president explaining that, actually, the economy benefits from immigration, describing it as “not just a good thing” but “a necessity.” Senators like Lindsey Graham and John McCain have also argued that the economy gets a boost from cheaper labor. Mountains of evidence suggest native workers aren’t interested in the kind of grueling, seasonal, low-wage employment that is typically the domain of recent immigrants. Experts have warned that a crackdown on immigration could, for example, destroy the U.S. agriculture industry, whose workforce is disproportionally made up of foreigners.

Of course, wanting to drastically restrict legal immigration and actually getting a bill passed to do so are two very different things, and Team Trump faces a steep uphill battle, given that G.O.P. lawmakers like Graham and McCain are against it. There are also more pressing matters to attend to, including but not limited to: health care, tax reform, and avoiding a government shutdown in September. Building a border wall around the entire country might have to wait.”

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The white nationalist agenda is a threat to America. Immigration is good for America. And, the real answer to the “immigration enforcement issue” is more, not less, legal immigration. This is particularly true with a declining birth rate and an expanding economy. Without the benefits of immigration, the U.S. economy is doomed to stagnate like the economies of Japan and some European countries.

PWS

07-13-17