Right Now 2 Senators (Potentially) Stand In The Way
It’s really hard to keep up with precisely where Republicans stand on tax cuts, since the details of this thing seem to be changing hour-to-hour, even minute-to-minute, as leadership and Trump seem hell-bent on getting a floor vote (assuming they have the votes) by the end of the week.
But here’s one thing we can tell you: the Senate’s version of the tax reform bill is due today for a vote in the Senate Budget Committee, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by only one. And right now there are 2 Republicans sitting on that Committee who say they might vote “no”. (Technically, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could bring it to the floor anyway, but that would be a huge embarrassment). Tennessee’s Bob Corker doesn’t like the idea of adding to the federal deficit (and let’s face it: he also doesn’t like Trump, who keeps calling him “liddle'”). And Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson says the bill does too much for huge corporations and not enough for small businesses.
Johnson also spoke long and hard in opposition to Republican Obamacare repeal efforts earlier this year, but then ended up voting “yes”. But he insists he’s not bluffing this time and won’t let it out of Committee if he doesn’t get changes: “I need a fix beforehand”.
Here are the two best stories we found giving an overall picture of what’s going on:
- Vox has an easy-to-read, yet very comprehensive look at what’s included in the bill, and the process.
- The New York Times profiles Republicans who have indicated they might oppose the bill (the most recent emerging late yesterday) and why.
As anyone reading The Chaos Report knows, we’ve been doubting the doubters on this for a long time. And it looks to us even more like it’s going to get done. We still hope we’re wrong. But the only big wild card we see at this point is whether some Republicans (Corker, Flake) might ultimately chose hatred of Trump over party loyalty if things aren’t lining up exactly right for them. God knows Trump wouldn’t hesitate to screw them over if the shoe was on the other foot.
Trump, incidentally, will meet with Congressional leadership today, that means Ryan, McConnell, Schumer and Pelosi. Last time this happened he ended up bonding with “Chuck and Nancy”, although he’s back to calling them names these days…
And here’s another thing we can tell you: amidst all the noise and minutiae, there’s only one thing that never changes: despite what Republicans and the President say, the bill primarily benefits rich people and corporations. In fact Republicans spent much of the day disputing new numbers from the Congressional Budget Office projecting just that: exactly what they’ve been saying isn’t true.
The new numbers show as early as 2019, the tax cut will actually result in a tax hike for people making up to $30,000 a year, and by 2027, it’ll lead to a rise in taxes for anybody making up to $75,000 a year.
Republicans say that’s misleading because with expanded standard deductions, a lot of poor people won’t pay any income tax, so it won’t mean more cash coming out of their pockets. That’s kind of true: the reason it appears their taxes will go up is because of the Senate’s decision to include a partial Obamacare repeal, resulting in the government paying out less in health care subsidies, and higher premiums. So Republicans point out that shortfall can easily be remedied if those people choose not to buy insurance and stay healthy. (To her credit, Maine Republican Susan Collins anticipated this result and that’s why she’s been saying all along she won’t vote for it).
But even that distracts from the fact that the major impact will be a huge permanent tax break for big corporations. (Part of why the individual tax burden rises over the next 10 years is personal tax cuts eventually phase out, but corporate tax cuts stay put).
Which leads us to our biggest question of all: If the President is sincere in wanting to bring back jobs and factories, why doesn’t he advocate an even more massive tax cut, but only for corporations that actually hire Americans and build factories in America with their new-found funds? Rather than just giving them an across-the-board gift to use however the hell they want?
In Case You Were Distracted, Or Maybe Because You Were Distracted: Less Gun Control!
A bill to wildly deregulate guns further is set to get a big boost in Congress tomorrow. North Carolina Republican Richard Hudson says his “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017” will be taken up by the House Judiciary Committee. That Committee is chaired by Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte.
This bill would mean any person with a concealed carry permit granted by one state, could carry their gun into any other state. It’s a particular priority for the NRA.
And what about those regulations on bump stocks that in effect turn semi-automatic weapons fully automatic like the Las Vegas shooter had? Crickets…
Good Move, Mulvaney, Bringing Donuts…
We remember early in our career, the first time we ever had to fire someone for cause, and on that very morning they brought cookies into work for everybody. Suddenly, all the people who had been begging us to fire this person for months, were angry at us.
So Trump’s Budget Director, who’s now also newly-appointed Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney showed up with boxes of donuts, and (at least according to this Tweet by one of Mulvaney’s PR guys), did a pretty good job of establishing a bulkhead.
Mulvaney also sent out an email telling staff to ignore instructions from Leandra English, who’d been appointed Acting Director by the Board’s previous chief when he quit. English meanwhile, sent an email out welcoming everybody back from Thanksgiving weekend.
Meanwhile, a Trump-appointed judge heard arguments from both sides; didn’t rule. But Timothy Kelly said he’d have some guidance on how to proceed by today.
We also were neglectful yesterday in not reminding you that the Board, which Trump calls a “complete disaster” was almost single-handedly responsible for putting an end to Wells Fargo’s fraudulent handling of customer accounts, which included opening bank and credit card accounts without their knowledge. The federal government also got a $100-million dollar fine out of that.
There’s no question Trump has the authority to appoint the permanent head of the CFPB. The question is: will he? Because that would require the Senate’s approval, so would likely need to be someone more moderate than the “destroyer” Trump seems to want in that position. By leaving it in the charge of an “Acting Director” maybe forever, he could circumvent the normal protocol until the board itself is largely dismantled.
A similar thing is going on at the Census Bureau, where there currently is no Director, but Trump is poised to name a long-time voter fraud “truther” as Deputy Director. Why? Because that position requires no Congressional approval. Director does.
The Latest Twist In Roy Moore Saga Was Almost Bound To Happen…
A woman approached the Washington Post claiming to be a victim of sexual assault at the hands of Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. The Post broke the original story about Moore’s alleged inappropriate sexual advances toward a 14-year old when he was in his 30s.
But Post reporters determined this newest “victim” was a fraud, likely working for “Project Veritas” a professional Conservative rabble-rousing operation headed by James O’Keefe, whose “stings” on liberal organizations and journalists have failed before, and occasionally worked, and also occasionally failed but made appear to work through misleading video or audio editing.
This particular “sting” seemed to have a two-fold purpose:
- Question validity of previous claims about Moore’s predilection for underage and teenage girls.
- Make the Washington Post appear to have a political agenda in their reporting on Moore.
The Post’s story on this is fascinating, because it takes you step-by-step into how they vetted the woman when she came forward, eventually leading them to a very obvious smoking gun: a “gofundme” page where their self-described “victim” described how she was raising money so she could go work “to combat the lies and deceipt (sic) of the liberal MSM”. Post reporters also recount how they started to smell something fishy when their subject seems overly interested in getting them to comment on what they felt would be the outcome of their reporting on the Senate race.
The Post’s video of its encounters with the imposter victim is really compelling stuff:
In other Roy Moore news, a former Marine Colonel and associate of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he’s launching a write-in candidacy on his own. Lee Busby could be making a smart move, given no one else seems willing to pick up the ball, and there’s definite opportunity even at this late date. In an interview with the Washington Post, Busby couched it in military terms: “the left flank and the right flank are heavily guarded….I think that gives you an opportunity to run straight up the middle.”
The vote to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Attorney General is just 2 weeks from today.
We’re also a little wary about how Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, is flooding the airwaves in Alabama with TV ads. Even real expensive stuff: like during the Alabama vs. Auburn football game. Careful: that could backfire.