Friday, September 29, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Trump Lies Again, His Tax Cut Proposal Will Save Him and His Family Billions (Yes, Billions)

UPDATE IV: "President Trump and congressional Republicans keep saying their tax plan doesn't help the rich. But that's not true. . .

In fact, in nine pages, The Washington Post counts at least nine ways the wealthy benefit, including Trump himself. Here's our list:

1) A straight-up tax cut for the rich. . .

2) The estate tax goes bye-bye. . .

3) Hedge funds and lawyers get a special tax break. . .

4) The AMT is over. . .

5) The wealthy get to keep deducting mortgage interest. . .

6) Stockholders are going to be very happy. . .

7) The favorite tax break of hedge fund billionaires is still safe. . .

8) Capital gains taxes stay low. . .

9) The Obamacare investment tax goes away. . .

When reporters asked Trump whether the tax plan would help him personally, he quickly said no. . .

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), who was part of the team that worked with the White House to craft the tax-overhaul outline, was asked a similar question on Fox News. He, too, said this plan does little to help the rich.

'I think those who benefit most are middle-class families struggling to keep every dollar they earn,' Brady told Fox News.

But one look at this plan tells a very different story. It gives an outright tax cut to the wealthiest Americans and it preserves almost all of the most popular loopholes they use to reduce their tax bills.

Read the Washington Post, 9 ways Trump’s tax plan is a gift to the rich, including himself.

Read also The New York Times, Trump Could Save More Than $1 Billion Under His New Tax Plan, which give specific examples where The Donald benefits.

UPDATE III:  "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."

Read the Washington Post, Trump aides sell tax plan with Pinocchio-laden claims, which show that the wealthy do get a big tax cut and the plan will add trillions to the federal deficit (the exact amount can be determined without the plan details which conveniently have not been released).
UPDATE II:  "The tax plan that the Trump administration outlined on Wednesday is a potentially huge windfall for the wealthiest Americans. It would not directly benefit the bottom third of the population. As for the middle class, the benefits appear to be modest.

The administration and its congressional allies are proposing to sharply reduce taxation of business income, primarily benefiting the small share of the population that owns the vast majority of corporate equity. President Trump said on Wednesday that the cuts would increase investment and spur growth, creating broader prosperity. But experts say the upside is limited, not least because the economy is already expanding.

The plan would also benefit Mr. Trump and other affluent Americans by eliminating the estate tax, which affects just a few thousand uber-wealthy families each year, and the alternative minimum tax, a safety net designed to prevent tax avoidance.

The precise impact on Mr. Trump cannot be ascertained because the president refuses to release his tax returns, but the few snippets of returns that have become public show one thing clearly: The alternative minimum tax has been unkind to Mr. Trump. In 2005, it forced him to pay $31 million in additional taxes.

Mr. Trump has also pledged repeatedly that the plan would reduce the taxes paid by middle-class families, but he has not provided enough details to evaluate that claim. While some households would probably get tax cuts, others could end up paying more.

The plan would not benefit lower-income households that do not pay federal income taxes. The president is not proposing measures like a reduction in payroll taxes, which are paid by a much larger share of workers, nor an increase in the earned-income tax credit, which would expand wage support for the working poor.

Indeed, to call the plan 'tax reform' seems like a stretch — Mr. Trump himself told conservative and evangelical leaders on Monday that it was more apt to refer to his plan as “tax cuts.” Mr. Trump’s proposal echoes the large tax cuts that President Ronald Reagan, in 1981, and President George W. Bush, in 2001, passed in the first year of their terms, not the 1986 overhaul of the tax code that he often cites. Like his Republican predecessors, Mr. Trump says cutting taxes will increase economic growth."

Read The New York Times, Trump Tax Plan Benefits Wealthy, Including Trump.

UPDATE:  "President Trump made a living and gained fame by over-promising without having to deliver. At times his flim-flam routine was exposed, as in the case of his bankrupt casino and Trump University scam. Unfortunately, having developed habits over 70 years and lacking a grasp of policy, Trump finds it impossible to curtail his rhetoric to meet his policy proposals. Moreover, he seems not to care since his presidency really is about the NFL, anti-immigrant hysteria, white grievance and other topics designed not to prepare for solutions but to keep the pot boiling.

So it is with tax reform. Trump and his advisers at various times have promised not to give the rich any tax cut, to attack the deficit/debt and to bolster the middle class. His tax plan bears no resemblance to that message, as Democrats were eager to point out on Wednesday. . .

As for fiscal responsibility, the proposal is an outrage. . .

Unsurprising for a party and president allergic to sound policy and economic reality, Republicans seem determined to snow their donors (See what we’ve come up with!), hand liberals a political gift and infuriate the lonely fiscal conservatives out there who recognize the added debt outweighs any benefit from the temporary growth bubble one could expect to derive from this scheme."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s spin doesn’t match his tax plan.

"President Trump’s speech on the administration’s still-somewhat-vague tax plan, delivered in Indianapolis on Sept. 27, was filled with many of his favorite, inaccurate claims. For instance, he repeatedly says he is offering the “largest tax cut in our country’s history,” a dubious claim when properly measured as a percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product.  Here’s a sampling of other inaccurate claims — and one case in which he appears to have adjusted his language because of our previous fact checks.

    'To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax.'

The president’s suggestion that “millions” of small businesses and farms are affected by the estate tax is absurd. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, only about 5,500 estates in 2017 — out of nearly 3 million estates — would have to pay any taxes. About half of estates subject to the tax would pay an average tax of about 9 percent. That’s because for a married couple, about $11 million is exempt from taxation.

Only 80 — that’s right, 80 — of taxable estates would be farms and small businesses.

That’s a big change from the past. In 1977, 139,000 estates had to pay the tax. In 2000, it was 52,000. But Congress has kept raising the exemption and lowering the tax rate. So for virtually all Americans, even farms and small businesses, the estate tax is just not a problem. . .

[The Donald also said:]

    'I’m doing the right thing and it’s not good for me, believe me. … We are also repealing the alternative minimum tax, or AMT.'

Trump’s claim that he would not benefit from the tax plan is not credible. Of course, he’s not released his tax returns so it is difficult to know for sure. But he’s certainly subject to the AMT — and the one recent tax return that has been leaked, from 2005, shows that the AMT increased his tax bill from about $5.3 million to $36.5 million. So at least in that tax year, he potentially could have saved $31 million.

Eliminating the estate tax, meanwhile, is likely to benefit his heirs."

Read the Washington Post, Fact-checking President Trump’s tax speech in Indianapolis.

FYI: After deducting the exemption of $5.49 million, almost $11 million if you are married, the estate tax is 40%.

The Donald claims his net worth is "in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS."

So his tax cut proposal will save him and his family more than $4 billion.

Trump's Big CON: Too Busy Whipping Them Into a Frenzy to Care

UPDATE II:  "The Jones Act has been an albatross around the Puerto Rican economy for decades, costing the island an estimated $1.7 billion in lost commerce every year since 1990. It was a contributing factor to the commonwealth’s fiscal crisis last year.

During times of emergency, the Department of Homeland Security can suspend Jones Act requirements. DHS did that very thing after Harvey hit Texas and Irma hit Florida. Unsurprisingly, many members of Congress have requested the same for Puerto Rico in the wake of Maria.

Reuters reports that DHS isn’t having it".

Read the Washington Post, The one act of deregulation the Trump administration will not take.
UPDATE: Who should have won the 2016 election?

Read the Washington Post, Clinton pressed Trump to deploy hospital ship Comfort to Puerto Rico. Now it’s preparing to go.

The Donald is too buzy whipping them into a frenzy (as former House Speaker John Boehner said) over his perceived critics to care, especially about people who refused to vote for him.

Read the Washington Post, The sad suspicion about Trump’s shameful treatment of Puerto Rico.

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Military Parade Edition

UPDATE:  Here is a description of the event in July:

"For two hours [on a July 14] morning, President Trump looked happy.

He was the honored guest at Paris’s Bastille Day military parade and had a prime seat that gave him a view straight down Avenue des Champs-Elysees and a first glimpse at the tanks, armored vehicles, gun trucks, carriers and troops in historical uniforms headed his way.

He eagerly leaned forward as he took in the spectacle, frequently jostling his wife or French President Emmanuel Macron when he saw something that particularly delighted him. Whenever troops were before him, Trump jumped to his feet and applauded with an enthusiasm that exceeded the response of those around him. . .

The parade is an annual tradition that dates back to 1880, and this year it included a tribute to the centennial anniversary of the United States entering World War I. The parade featured U.S. and French flags, 200 American troops marching in uniforms from 1917 and eight U.S. Air Force planes. . .

Trump has long been delighted by grand displays of military strength, and he has filled his Cabinet with numerous military leaders, although he was disappointed that they could not wear their military uniforms to their new civilian jobs in the administration. Trump wanted to have heavy military equipment and troops at his inauguration parade in January, but that idea was blocked for logistical reasons.

When Macron invited Trump to the parade in a June 27 phone call, the president promised to be there — forcing his staff to quickly scramble to plan a last-minute trip.

The two-hour parade featured one spectacle after another, a demonstration of France’s military history and current capabilities. The parade began with dozens of soldiers on horseback riding along the cobblestone avenue that runs from the Arc de Triomphe to the viewing station where Trump sat. Macron arrived in a military jeep that he rode as if it were a chariot.

At least three military bands took turns playing a parade soundtrack, and massive screens showed an action-movie-style video that explained the significance of the equipment on display, from vintage tanks that slowly and noisily charged down the avenue to a sleek new armored vehicle from which a handful of troops emerged to act out a mission.

There was then a roar in the sky as nine fighter jets flew overhead, leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke — representing the French tricolor flag. Dozens of other planes followed. The video screens played footage taken from on board as well as wide shots showing the jets flying over iconic Paris sites.

Trump watched the show in awe, as did [an] 8-year-old . . .

After the air show came the hundreds of troops in vintage uniforms, starting with 200 marchers wearing U.S. uniforms from World War I. Suddenly, the sky filled with helicopters. Afterward, police on motorcycles came speeding down the avenue, followed by a seemingly never-ending stream of heavy military equipment, small jeeps, armored vehicles of all sizes, tanks, flatbed trucks hauling bulldozers and even more tanks. It felt like the grand finale of a fireworks show, as military equipment continued to appear.

There were red emergency response vehicles and a brass band riding horses as they played."

Read the Washington Post, Trump revels in French military pomp far from White House turmoil.

"President Trump's trip to France for the country's Bastille Day parade in July left a big impression. So big, in fact, that he wants to replicate the experience back home.

As Trump met Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron, the commander in chief gushed about seeing France's military might on display in the streets of Paris during his visit. And he told reporters he is looking into the possibility of having a parade down the streets of Washington on Independence Day to show the United States' 'military strength.'

'I was your guest at Bastille Day, and it was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen,' Trump told Macron, who sat next to him. 'It was two hours on the button, and it was military might and, I think, a tremendous thing for France and the spirit of France.'

'To a large extent because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July Fourth in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue,' Trump said.

The comments prompted laughter from Macron and other officials sitting around them. The leaders were meeting in New York ahead of the United Nations General Assembly. But it wasn't the first time Trump has talked about wanting a military parade in the streets of Washington.

Before the inauguration, Trump officials inquired with the Pentagon about having armored vehicles participate in his inauguration parade, according to documents obtained by HuffPost. And he told The Washington Post in January that he hoped that during his tenure, U.S. military might would be on display.

'Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country,' Trump said in the January interview. 'And we’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military.'

'That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military,' he added."

Read the Washington Post, Trump says he wants a massive military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on July 4.