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Over at The Corner, Jim Geraghty passes along the results of a survey about the Republican tax cut of 2017:
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine surveyed 852 taxpayers in December about the tax cuts enacted in 2017, and how it affected their income taxes. The results will probably disappoint both fans and critics of the tax cuts. When asked how the 2017 tax changes affected their last return, 59 percent said, “my taxes remained the same,” 22 percent said they owed less, 19 percent said they owed more.
I find this poll useful because none of the questions was about whether the respondent supported the tax cuts or thought they were a good idea, or how the respondent felt about President Trump or Congress….To hear a lot of Republicans tell it, the tax cuts put a lot more money in Americans’ wallets, and to hear a lot of Democrats tell it, the tax cuts were a disastrous giveaway to the rich that socked it to the middle class. Judging from these poll results, most Americans didn’t feel much of an impact either way.
Two things. First, I don’t think liberals ever suggested that the tax cut would “sock it to the middle class.” Our contention was only that it wouldn’t do much of anything for them, and the Kiplinger survey confirms that this is what happened.
Second, a survey like this doesn’t catch the impact of these tax cuts on very high earners. Partly this is because high earners tend not to participate in telephone polls like this, and partly it’s because there aren’t very many of them in the first place. At a guess, the Kiplinger survey reached no more than 30 or 40 high earners at most. Even if every single one of them said that they owed less in taxes, that would affect the overall results by only two or three percentage points. You’d never notice it. However, the CBO provides this projection:
As you can see, the entire bottom 95 percent got a tax change of less than one percent—and even that’s misleading since it includes the imputed share of the corporate part of the tax cut. For somebody who pays a few thousand dollars in taxes, this amounts to thirty or forty bucks. That’s not even enough to take your family out to a movie.
But the affluent did much better. The top one percent may not affect the survey numbers, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t make out pretty well. The average one-percenter earns nearly $2 million, which means that a 3 percent tax cut saves them about $40-50,000. Not bad!
So if you look at the whole picture, it turns out that the Republican tax cut was indeed a huge giveaway to rich, but did almost nothing for the middle class. And that’s just what liberals said.
Just when you thought the flood of white-supremacist propaganda into the mainstream couldn’t get any worse, it did. The Anti-Defamation League last week reported that incidents involving the spread of hateful materials—"including the distribution of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ fliers, stickers, banners and posters”—more than doubled in 2019, shortly on the heels of a similarly sharp increase in such cases in 2018.
Noting that the propaganda increase could be found in every state except Hawaii, the report explained: “The barrage of propaganda, which overwhelmingly features veiled white supremacist language with a patriotic slant, is an effort to normalize white supremacists’ message and bolster recruitment efforts while targeting minority groups including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants and the LGBTQ community.”
Nothing to see here. Just a Trump organization setting up a group fronted by Black folks to go into Black communities to promise them cash if they attend pro-Trump events. According to CNN, America First Policies is one of the main organizations trying to get Trump re-elected. They donated over $230,000 to help begin the Urban Revitalization Coalition, headed by Cleveland's Darryl Scott — Pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center.
What's the Urban Revitalization Coalition doing with its money? Holding Trump events, promising cash prizes to the Black people who attend the giveaways wherein they're pumped full of propaganda. So, there's that.
According to Sara Murray from CNN:MURRAY: Tax experts contacted by CNN raised red flags saying the cash events may violate tax laws that bar nonprofits from engaging in political campaign activities and could jeopardize the group's tax-exempt status. Though in an interview with CNN, Scott said he's careful to follow the law. Racial justice groups like the NAACP accused Scott of trying to buy support for president Trump in the Black community.
JOHNSON: It's both worrisome and it's very disingenuous. We're in a political climate where elections are won by the margins. Less than a fraction of a percentage. And people are using many tricks to encourage people to participate or persuade their political point of view.
Everyone wants to be America's Dumbest Senator. I don't know why. As far as I know there is no prize awarded other than the title itself. It is very, very important for many Republican senators to be seen as egregiously not-smart, however. It is virtue-signaling, but in reverse. I am one of you, every Republican senator wants to tell their Fox News-watching, Jade Helm-believing, blood-libel-suspicious, Anonymous Internet Conspiracy Troll-following base of supporters. I am just as dumb. I, too, despise expertise, book-learning, and fact-knowing. Fill me with your conspiracies; I shall return them to you with interest.
Anyhoo, that brings us to Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Sen. Tom Cotton has a theory, or rather a hypothesis, or rather a cognitius rectalus or a netherthink that What If maybe the coronavirus COVID-19 was not a virus that moved from bats to humans in the manner that many, many, many viruses have jumped to new hosts even though scientists are now quite certain that is what happened, but actually it is instead a new virus that was developed by the Chinese Communist Party but escaped from a not-secret lab because Reasons.
I can't wait to hear what Susan Collins thinks of this development.
Rudy Giuliani's bankroller, an outfit literally named "Fraud Guarantee," is awaking to new charges out of SDNY this morning. Prosecutors allege that FG lied about the organization in "marketing pitches" to investors.
I am not making this up. CNN:
FBI agents and prosecutors interviewed investors who were pitched on the company, and through subpoenas have obtained text messages and other documents related to the effort. One person with knowledge of the company has said the men spent proceeds from investors on pricey personal expenses.
The new charges, if they are brought, would significantly increase the legal pressure on Parnas and Correia. Those men, plus Igor Fruman, another Parnas business associate, and Andrey Kukushkin, an associate in a marijuana venture, have been charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors with campaign finance violations relating to donations they made to US candidates. All four have pleaded not guilty.
In the latest Daily Kos/Civiqs poll, fully 60% of Americans disapprove of how the U.S. Senate conducted Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The behavior of Senate Republicans following that trial probably won't get many cheers, either. The three most closely watched Republicans during the trial, those who pretended to be open-minded and committed to doing their jobs, have all popped up in the last few days with slathering praise for the Trump administration which let loose all the money once the trial was done. It turns out the issue wasn’t the threat of heads on pikes at all. It was all about the bribes.
Jessica Tarlov is a senior strategist with Schoen Consulting, a firm that boasts campaign strategy work for people like Mike Bloomberg and HBO. She is also a frequent contributor to Fox News, coming on as a “Democratic Strategist.” On Monday, Tarlov was on America’s Newsroom, a Fox News show that is every bit as newsroom-y as you might expect from Fox. She was there to discuss Pete Buttigieg’s appearance on the Sunday news shows and specifically his responses to Rush Limbaugh’s homophobic attacks on his same-sex marriage. It’s a way for Fox News to keep playing homophobic statements made by right-wing pundits while playing at being a newsroom.
I think I’m finally going to post these pictures taken last year at Sumapaz National Park in Colombia. I’ve been oddly reluctant for a couple of reasons. First, I felt almost proprietary toward these little lagoons, as if they were my own private experience. They were breathtakingly gorgeous, but only at the very particular time I was there. A few days earlier or later and the water would have been different, the weather would have been different, and it would have looked nothing like this. I feel like I’m one of the few human beings ever to see it exactly like this.
The other reason is that these photos simply don’t capture what it looked like in real life. Your mileage may vary, but I find that this doesn’t happen very often. In this case, however, the picture is a poor substitute for being there and drinking in the tiny, perfect little garden that the rain has made out of this miniature lagoon. If you’re wondering why I’m making such a big deal out of something that’s pretty, but just that, all I can say is that you had to be there.
These pictures are both of the same lagoon. They were taken from opposite ends.August 8, 2019 — Sumapaz National Park, Colombia
Therapy should be a safe space, including for migrant children who have fled traumatic experiences in their home countries for the safety of the U.S., oftentimes making the dangerous journey completely alone. But in a testament to the Trump administration’s desire for mass deportation at any and all costs, The Washington Post reports that officials have been requiring some therapists who have met with detained kids to turn over their confidential session notes, which are then used as part of the government’s case in immigration court. In other words, the information kids gave in confidence is now being used against them to try to deport them.
“This kind of information sharing was part of a Trump administration strategy that is technically legal but which professional therapy associations say is a profound violation of patient confidentiality,” Hannah Dreier writes inThe Post. “Intimate confessions, early traumas, half-remembered nightmares—all have been turned into prosecutorial weapons, often without the consent of the therapists involved, and always without the consent of the minors themselves, in hearings where the stakes can be life and death.”
Most of the news last week was centered on the immediate threat impeached president Donald Trump is posing to the rule of law by interfering in the sentencing of one of his Russia plot henchmen, Roger Stone. While that was happening, though, there was a much more mundane demonstration of how Trump is destroying government: his administration's looming failure to conduct the 2020 census. The Government Accountability Office issued a report made public last week in a House Oversight and Reform committee hearing showing that the U.S. Census Bureau is behind where it needs to be in recruiting census takers and in IT.
"Whether through incompetence or intentional action, this administration's failures risk causing grave harm to this year's census that could jeopardize a complete and accurate count," Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the committee chair said at the hearing.
Donald Trump continues to do things that should be investigated and for which he should probably be impeached. But in an election year, with Senate Republicans supporting his abuses of power, House Democrats are considering what will get him out of office, and concluding that more investigations aren’t the answer.
Instead, Democrats plan to focus on the bread-and-butter issues they campaigned on in 2018. “Health care, health care, health care,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly told her caucus in a closed-door meeting. And a few other things as well: Democratic leadership is encouraging members to focus on Trump’s destructive budget, highlighting the cuts he’s pushing with events at senior centers and after-school programs.
Federal prosecutors continue to be tight-lipped about just what is going on with now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. Parnas has used his campaign finance-related indictment to launch an ever-more-bizarre publicity campaign of sorts, releasing through his defense lawyer a seemingly unending stream of photographs of Parnas meeting with countless top Republican Party lawmakers, administration officials, and bigwigs. The move is self-evidently an attempt by Parnas to signal that he has information to share about very important people doing very important things, if law enforcement or Congress is willing to grant him leniency in his legal travails.
But what, exactly, is Parnas trying to immunize himself against? And what's going on with a federal investigation that seems to be swirling in all directions around Rudy Giuliani, while conspicuously neither questioning him directly nor clearing him? What are Southern District of New York prosecutors up to—and what limits has Trump’s new, most powerful fixer, Attorney General William Barr, placed on them?
As presidential candidates continue to discuss Medicare for All, John Oliver explores how much it might cost, what it will change, and who it will help.
How much do Nevada voters want to skip having to caucus this Saturday? Some of them have waited in line for 3 hours to vote early. The early voting highlighted one of the lingering concerns for Saturday's main events. While voters are using marked paper ballots in the early voting, some locations had problems with the iPad system the party is using for both checking in voters and tallying votes, including not enough volunteers to get it done.
The lack of volunteers assisting the 18,538 early voters this weekend is just the beginning of problems campaigns are warning of ahead of Saturday. To be clear, these campaign representatives who talked to The Washington Post are doing so anonymously and might have interest in sowing distrust of the system just in case their candidate does poorly in the caucus. At the same time, a common theme emerges from the campaigns and volunteers—a lack of transparency on how it’s supposed to work.
Can we really say that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s long history of racist remarks and policies is catching up with him when he’s erected a giant wall of cash between himself and criticism as he zooms away from it in a rocket ship similarly constructed of cash money? Let’s say instead that Bloomberg’s past is being reported on, and commented on by his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, but that Bloomberg’s message (that he can beat Trump, because money) appears to be holding its own thanks to, it cannot be emphasized enough, the boost it gets from a tsunami of Bloomberg’s personal money.
The other candidates for the Democratic nomination—you know, the ones who have never held elected office as 60-year-old Republicans—have a few things to say about Bloomberg’s record. After his comments surfaced blaming the end of a racist lending policy for the 2008 economic collapse, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted out a video about the continuing racist legacy of redlining. Speaking in Las Vegas over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders tore into Bloomberg’s history of “racist policies like stop-and-frisk.”
The Washington chapter of civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations has filed a lawsuit against Customs and Border Protection over the agency’s failure to respond to a request for documentation relating to the detention and questioning of possibly hundreds of U.S. citizens and permanent residents of Iranian descent for hours at a time last month. “As the largest Muslim civil rights organization in Washington state, we will speak out against injustice wherever we see it,” Masih Fouladi, executive director of CAIR’s Washington chapter, said in a statement. “This lawsuit is the first step in demanding transparency and accountability from CBP after they detained American citizens at the border for up to 12 hours.”
This sort of foolishness happens all of the time in politics, but especially so among Republicans. Loeffler is the interim Senator from Georgia after Johnny Isakson retired. She faces deranged lunatic Rep. Doug Collins in the Republican primary for May 3rd.
Mitch McConnell is keen to keep Loeffler inserted in the Senate. She and her husband are said to be worth nearly half a billion dollars, with Jeffery Sprecher's company owning the New York Stock Exchange, acquiring it for $8.2B in 2013.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The other day, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler posted a picture of herself in a camo blouse and orange safety vest, with a shotgun over one shoulder.
One of her critics quickly discovered she couldn’t have been using the weaponry to hunt.
The Republican incumbent doesn’t have a Georgia hunting license, according to an Open Records Act request obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The request was filed by American Bridge, a left-leaning group that’s working to unseat the financial executive -- even as she attempts to boost her conservative credentials and fend off a challenge from Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins.
The Stable genius in the White House sent a very simple tweet for a change -- one that didn’t attack, vilify or smear a political rival or dissenting view.
HAPPY PRESIDENT’S DAY!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2020
Even in its simplicity Trump can’t spell the simplest of holidays. One that praises past US presidents.
Instead, he tweeted out a tweet to congratulate and worship himself, by simply writing all in caps HAPPY PRESIDENT'S DAY.
Note the position of the apostrophe, because of course he thinks it's a day of worship of him.
In their typical satirical fashion, the Merriam-Webster dictionary tweeted the true spelling and then offered the correction without mentioning Donald Trump.
Happy Presidents' Day, friends. https://t.co/LcNrrqsfRM
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) February 17, 2020
(That's where the apostrophe goes.)
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) February 17, 2020
New Day's Alysin Camerota asked New York Times columnist Nick Kristof what Chinese officials did wrong in their handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Kristof said the biggest problem is that they tried to cover it up. He said the Chinese scientific community reacted "heroically."
"The scientific side did great. Meanwhile, the political side, when eight doctors are discussing this in a WeChat group, they summoned them to the police station. They warned them not to do this again," Kristof said.
"Most strikingly, they announce on national television these eight doctors have been reprimanded, to send a signal across the country that nobody talks about this. And so meanwhile in Wuhan, you have the local legislature is meeting. There are banquets and 5 million people leave Wuhan for the rest of the country in this period before the clampdown. Once it comes, extraordinary efficiency and one might say ruthlessness, they were -- Xi Jinping, the president, was very late and his instinctive response was to cover up."
"Did the delay lead to the spread? For folks at home to understand the scale of what China is doing right now, we're not talking about a cruise ship here or there, a few hundred passengers. They blocked off parts of the country where hundreds of millions of people live. I don't think the world has ever seen this," Jim Sciutto said.