The Houston Astros Just Won The World Series, Now We Ask You To Keep Your Eye On The Ball On Taxes

Tax Plan Due Out Today Not Really About Individuals (Middle-Class, Rich Or Otherwise) At Least Not Right Now: It’s Mostly A Massively Huge Break For Corporations

Even if we individuals end up in a lower income tax bracket, we’ll also be asked for sure to make sacrifices: whether in the form of fewer deductibles, or reduced incentives to buy homes or save for retirement. So all this talk about rich vs. middle class and the divisiveness that naturally comes with it, is largely a distraction–albeit and effective one–from what’s really being decided here: who’s going to shoulder the cost of enormous tax breaks for corporations.

Because guess who’s being asked to make no sacrifice at all? Yup. Corporations are getting a no-strings-attacked gift of $2-trillion, at minimum. (At least it doesn’t look like Republicans have the votes right now to overcome technical hurdles and make the cuts permanent).

All this explaining by the White House about how tax cuts for the rich really aren’t, and how middle class will benefit even if it doesn’t look like it, is just one big giant head fake. (If you haven’t watched White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explanation, it’s a doozy). We link to it here:

We are not necessarily against tax breaks for corporations. We’d just like to see them paid for by things that don’t eat away at long-held American ideals, and also not by magic.

Because these corporate tax breaks are by-and-large predicated on the theory that helping corporations become more cash-rich will result in them creating jobs and raising wages. Like there’s no chance executives will use the newfound dollars to enrich themselves through stock buy-backs, or just sit on piles of cash, or use it for pricey acquisitions that might even lead to job cuts.

We also think the Republicans’ chief tax negotiator, Kevin Brady, is doing a pretty remarkable job with what he’s got to work with, not to mention all the curve balls the President keeps throwing at him (most recently casually Tweeting “wouldn’t it be great” he could wrap a partial Obamacare repeal into the bill, which does not seem to be happening.) If he does get a bill out today, just one day late, it will be a near super-human accomplishment. Hey, come to think of it, he might even be a better negotiator than Trump!

Chief tax negotiator, Rep. Kevin Brady (R) Texas


New York Terror Attack Update

Here’s a link to the terrorism charge, and two other charges, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office against the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov.

Of particular interest is the statements made by Saipov to an FBI agent, which start on page 8. Among other things, Saipov directly credits ISIS with inspiring him to carry out the attack. He even at one point considered putting ISIS flags on the truck, but then decided that would attract too much attention. (He later requested an ISIS flag to display in his hospital room). He also says he “rehearsed” the attack for about a week, but waited until Halloween because “he believed there would be more civilians on the street for the holiday.”

According to the FBI Saipov said he “felt good about what he had done”. The FBI found more than 90 videos and 3,800 images on his cell phone, many of them ISIS propaganda, including grisly depictions of beheadings, shootings, and running a victim over with a tank.

Sayfullo Saipov

The New York Times, which has been way ahead on this aspect of the story, says the FBI is also investigating whether Saipov, who was originally from Uzbekistan, had links to other Uzbeks under federal investigation. A second Uzbek man, and Saipov’s wife have also been questioned.

A makeshift memorial to the victims at the now-closed bicycle path: Belgian and Argentinian flags, a Yankees cap…


The Washington Post meanwhile has the heartbreaking story of a group of Argentinians in New York for a high school reunion trip. 5 were killed. The sorrow of the survivors must also be immeasurable.

The friends getting ready to leave Argentina for their fateful New York holiday


Trump Calls American Justice System A “Joke” And A “Laughing Stock”. Is A Call For A Return To Public Executions That Far Off?

Asking that question is absolutely premature and probably extremely irresponsible on our part. Still…he does seem to be edging in that direction. (Scary thing too, lots of people would probably support the idea).

The President debasing the court system in the U.S., and lawyers, and due process, and the rule of law. Right here:

Then he Tweeted around midnight:

We could not agree more with the President’s sentiment. However, in the context of his other statements, it’s deeply disturbing, leading us back to our original question.


“Diversity Lottery Sounds Nice It’s Not Nice Not Good It Hasn’t Been Good We’ve Been Against It”

With those exact words, and that exact phrasing, Trump also railed against the immigration policy that allowed attacker Saipov access to a green card. You can watch here:

And with that, Trump disavowed himself of any responsibility. (His tantrum underscoring the fact that he didn’t get what he wanted, and other people are stupid). Namely Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (maybe the President doesn’t “like” you that much, buddy). Even though, as the New York Times points out, that diversity lottery dates back decades, was signed into law by George H.W. Bush, and Schumer in fact later proposed bipartisan legislation to end it (along with John McCain), but it was blocked by Republicans in the House.

But of course none of that matters because it’s just facts.

When Trump says “I want merit based“, he’s referring specifically to a bill sponsored by two Republican Senators that sets severe limits to legal immigration. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia want to slash legal immigration by 50% over the next 10 years. The “Green Card Lottery” would end. Most of the few immigrants allowed in would be geniuses, or already have lots of money. They’d also have to speak English. Most of the cuts in numbers would come by blocking family members of people already here from entering, something Trump also keeps talking about constantly: “chain migration“.


Obamacare Open Enrollment Is Underway

But you wouldn’t know it. As we just mentioned, the only mention from Trump on “opening day” was about killing it. And he’s already cut the Obamacare ad budget by 90%. We also think his repeated statements such as ““Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. It’s no longer — you shouldn’t even mention. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore” aren’t just rhetoric. It’s a deliberate attempt to deceive people into thinking Obamacare no longer exists, since there are clearly a fair number of people who rely on Trump as their primary news source.


Congress Shows Off Examples Of Ads Russia Bought On Facebook, And Elsewhere

The Senate Intelligence Committee held hearings about the impact of thousands of ads purchased by Russian agents on Facebook and Twitter, and at the same time released a bunch of the ads.

Here are a couple (These are so silly we wonder if they actually could’ve worked, which was actually a topic of dispute during the hearing):

Recode’s got a whole bunch more.

The most telling and worrisome thing to us about the hearing is not one single CEO from any of the major social media sites represented showed up. It was all lawyers. Which means they’re playing defense. Which means they still haven’t fully gotten their heads around the fact that they need to get out there and fix it. Said one of our favorite Senators, Independent Angus King of Maine “I’m disappointed that you’re here, and not your CEOs.”

(L to R) Facebook, Twitter and Google’s General Counsels. Not a CEO in sight…


Trump’s Choice For Fed Chief About As Boring As It Gets, And That’s Good

The President will announce his choice for the next Federal Reserve Chair today, and it’s expected to be Jay Powell, who worked in the Treasury Department under George H.W. Bush, and was appointed to his current fed board seat by President Obama.

Jerome “Jay” Powell

The consensus: Trump appears to be making the sensible choice for a change, going with a tried-and-true candidate whose monetary philosophy is very much in line with the current fed Chief Janet Yellen. Trump considered reappointing Yellen, but made it clear last week that he probably wouldn’t, just because she was a holdover and he wants to “make his mark”.

Many hard-line Conservatives, including Vice President Mike Pence, pushed for another candidate, Stanford Professor John Taylor, who favored a much more interventionist role for the Fed, and accelerated interest rate hikes.