Time to Talk Impeachment – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“A few weeks ago, I read a short new book by the legal scholar Cass Sunstein titled, simply, “Impeachment.” The book doesn’t mention President Trump once. Sunstein started writing it, he told me, partly because he was alarmed by what he considered reckless talk of impeachment during Trump’s first weeks on the job, before he had started doing much.

Sunstein’s goal was to lay out a legal and historical framework for thinking about impeachment, independent of any specific president. I’ve been thinking about the topic a lot since finishing the book, and I want to recommend both Sunstein’s book and a Vox piece published this morning by Ezra Klein.

To be clear, I think it would be a mistake for Democrats to put much energy into impeachment right now, because it’s not going to happen: Republicans control Congress and show no interest.But I also think it would be a mistake for Americans — regardless of party — to be in denial about the governing crisis our country is facing. Let’s admit it: Trump is behaving in ways that call for serious talk of impeachment. If you read Sunstein’s careful history of impeachment — of when the founders believed it was appropriate and necessary — I expect you will come to the same conclusion.”

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We’re All Part of Trump’s Show – by Brett Stephens – NYT

“If you want to understand the ways in which Donald Trump’s presidency is systematically corrupting the American mind, I have a book recommendation for you. It’s about Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The book is Peter Pomerantsev’s “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible.” It was published in 2014, and it brilliantly tells the story of the (Soviet-born) British author’s sojourn as a producer for Russian TV. As the title suggests, at its heart it’s the tale of the substitution of reality with “reality,” of factual truth with interpretive possibility.

That’s also the central task of Donald Trump’s presidency.”

“This is why there’s a Colosseum in Rome, and why public spectacle, theater, cinema, TV and now the internet have always been handmaids of dictators. In Russia, it’s all about casting the president as a bare-chested action hero, pumping out anti-Western conspiracy theories and serving up remakes of Western sitcoms and reality shows.

“The new Kremlin,” Pomerantsev notes, “won’t make the same mistake the old Soviet Union did: It will never let TV become dull.” Authoritarian dominion requires effective methods of mass distraction.

Trump isn’t a dictator, and his influence over media that isn’t Fox or Breitbart is negligible. But Trump does control his Twitter feed, with its 43.6 million followers. And he exerts a deeper level of control simply through his ability to bait hostile media at will with his every seemingly nutty utterance.The benefits, for Trump, are threefold: a political opposition that is exhausting itself — and much of the public — with its perpetual state of moral apoplexy; a political base that thrills to his readiness to scandalize the bien pensant; and an effective means of distraction from his electoral, legislative and foreign policy failures.

In other words, the president is conducting a kind of meta-politics, the purpose of which is to erase ordinary standards of political judgment. The question is not “How am I doin’?” as the late New York City mayor Ed Koch used to ask. It is, gladiator-like, “Are you not entertained?” Even those of us most aghast at this administration must confess we are.”

es. I just wrote this morning, that Trump is diverting attention from his tax cut bait and switch, moving wealth from the middle class to the to 5%, with his ludicrous tweets and untruths.

Here is another comment in that vain.

chambolle

Bainbridge Island 8 hours ago

Indeed. And this week, while we are being kept thoroughly diverted and amused by the clown show that is all things Trump, the Roy Moore horror show and other cheap entertainment, the GOP will pull off a magic trick: stealing about $1.5 trillion in federal tax revenues and handing them over to the nation’s wealthiest individuals and entities – courtesy of the sick, the elderly, students and others who will be bled and have nothing to say in the matter.

Oh, by the way, does anyone remember that $1.5 trillion federal infrastructure restoration and improvement program touted by both parties during the 2016 campaigns? Shucks, I guess we can no longer afford that, either. Unless your name is Ponzi, you can’t spend the same $1.5 trillion twice.

It Started as a Tax Cut. Now It Could Change American Life. – By PETER S. GOODMAN and PATRICIA COHEN – NYT

“If the tax bill widens inequality, local communities will likely find themselves with fewer resources to aim at helping struggling people.

A key feature of the Senate bill is the elimination of a federal deduction for state and local taxes. Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and American Legislative Exchange Council have sought to end the deduction as a means of reining in government spending.In high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — where electorates have historically shown a willingness to finance ample safety-net programs — the measure could change the political calculus. It would magnify the costs to taxpayers, pressuring states to stay lean or risk the wrath of voters.

Some see in this tilt a reworking of basic principles that have prevailed in American life for generations.”

David Lindsay Jr.: Great article by PETER S. GOODMAN and PATRICIA COHEN. I am alarmed, that for two nights, The News Hour on Public Television has been absorbed in the nonsesense of Donald Trumps rude tweets and lies. It appears that Trump has brilliantly occupied the press with silly discussions of his embarrassing behavior, taking up their time and energy, when they should be focused on this bait and switch tax cut, which transfers enormous wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest Americans, mostly the top 5%. My strong advice to TV news orgatizations, bareley mention the rude, lying billionaire in the White House, and focus on what economists and analysts are decrying with regards to this new congressional tax bill, which is the real short term threat to our American values and a strong, healthy middle class.

Here are the two top comments, which are fine, and I also endorse.

Sledge

Worcester 2 hours ago

As a tax attorney for almost 50 years, this bill breaks my heart. The callousness of our Republican leaders and the outright lie that this bill will help anyone but the rich is disheartening. The driving force in our economy has been the consumer, not business expansion. There’s not much (if anything) in this tax bill that will give the consumer more money to spend. And if you add in the erratic behavior of our President, you have to wonder whether this country can sustain itself, both economically and socially.

Stephen Kurtz

is a trusted commenter Windsor, Ontario 2 hours ago

The age of the robber baron was replaced by Theodore Roosevelt’s “Square Deal”. The excesses of the “Roaring Twenties” were tempered by FDR’s “New Deal.” The progress in Civil Rights and Medicare was achieved by LBJ’s “Great Society”. If the Republicans pass this so-called “tax cut” we will be rolling back all of the progress we have made since 1901 in order to create a less perfect union for the benefit of the one percent.

How Tax Bills Would Reward Companies That Moved Money Offshore – The New York Times

“Over the past few decades, some of the largest companies in the United States made a big bet: By stashing hundreds of billions of dollars of profits offshore, they could slash their taxes and bolster their profits.

It would take a generation to see if the strategy would fully pay off, because the law allowed companies only to defer the taxes on overseas earnings, not to permanently avoid them. Would they ever be able to bring the profits back to the United States without incurring huge tax bills?Some 20 years after the tax-avoiding technique became widespread, it is poised to pay off in a big way. The Republican tax bills making their way through the House and Senate would allow companies to bring nearly $3 trillion in profits home, at greatly reduced tax rates.”

What Congressmen Are Hiding – The New York Times

“As charges of sexual harassment and assault swept from Hollywood to Washington, Congress has faced questions about how it addresses such claims. The answer: terribly.

For two decades, taxpayers have been underwriting secret payments to people who accuse lawmakers of sexual misconduct under a 1995 law called, paradoxically, the Congressional Accountability Act. The legislation applied to Congress many laws on workplace safety, employment and civil rights from which it had been exempt. In the process, it established an account to pay settlements, which prevented lawmakers from being personally liable, and created an Office of Compliance that kept charges and payments secret.

After public pressure, the Office of Compliance released a tally of the settlements this month: Between 1997 and the present, the office has paid more than $17 million on more than 260 claims. In keeping with Congress’s maddening lack of transparency, the tally lumps harassment with discrimination and other claims, so the number of harassment claims isn’t clear. It also doesn’t name any of those accused.”

DL: Yuck. Yuck. Thank you for the editorial. There were many good comments also, the most popular being:

Dandy Maine 13 hours ago
We would all want to know which Representatives and Senators were accused of sexual misconduct. Why should we tax payers help cover this up?

Reply 155 Recommended

ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 13 hours ago
And to think they’re about to pass a huge tax give-away to the wealthy while stiffing us working stiffs.

They should get their house in order, and pay the $17 million back to the US treasury before even thinking of passing tax “reform’.

It’s the ultimate irony that what they did to their victims they’re doing to us, with one exception: we won’t receive any hush money collected on the average taxpayer’s dime.

Reply 130 Recommended

c ny 13 hours ago
Disgusting, isn’t it?

We, taxpayers, foot the bill whether we agree or not.
Long past time the public knows who we are subsidizing, and time to stop making ANY person not accountable for his or her actions. In Congress or not.

Start with the White House occupant. He should be accountable too.

Reply 107 Recommended

NYT Pick
N. Eichler CA 3 hours ago
I would like those members of Congress for whom settlements have been paid to be named including, as well, the dates of their transgressions. Furthermore, each of these members of Congress must repay the Treasury the amount of the original settlement. Any future such acts of thoughtless idiocy must be made public, and settlements paid by the transgressor not the taxpayer.

None of my taxpayer dollars are to be used by these miscreants allowing them to remain anonymous. I expect those dollars to be used for medical coverage, to increase teachers’ salaries, build more schools, maintain roads and bridges,
make certain we have clean air and water.

Those dollars are to benefit our country and its citizens and not men who refuse to understand the limits of familiarity.

Reply 101
Recommended

NYT Pick
Bob Bascelli Seaford NY 3 hours ago
Jack and Jill went up the Hill. Jill came down and is required to undergo counseling, mediation and a 30-day “cooling off period” before filing a formal complaint of sexual misconduct. This is victim intimidation, plain and simple. Sexual misconduct by the “Fools on the Hill” is a national disgrace. If lawmakers need “mandatory training in appropriate behavior toward their staff” in order to avoid misconduct, how can they be competent enough to be our representatives? Why does Jill need a 30 day cooling off period when it is Jack who needs the cooling off?

Reply 88 Recommended

The Biggest Tax Scam in History – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Donald Trump likes to declare that every good thing that happens while he’s in office — job growth, rising stock prices, whatever — is the biggest, greatest, best ever. Then the fact-checkers weigh in and quickly determine that the claim is false.

But what’s happening in the Senate right now really does deserve Trumpian superlatives. The bill Republican leaders are trying to ram through this week without hearings, without time for even a basic analysis of its likely economic impact, is the biggest tax scam in history. It’s such a big scam that it’s not even clear who’s being scammed — middle-class taxpayers, people who care about budget deficits, or both.

One thing is clear, however: One way or another, the bill would hurt most Americans. The only big winners would be the wealthy — especially those who mainly collect income from their assets rather than working for a living — plus tax lawyers and accountants who would have a field day exploiting the many loopholes the legislation creates.The core of the bill is a huge redistribution of income from lower- and middle-income families to corporations and business owners. Corporate tax rates go down sharply, while ordinary families are nickel-and-dimed by a series of tax changes, no one of which is that big a deal in itself, but which add up to significant tax increases on almost two-thirds of middle-class taxpayers.Meanwhile, the bill would partially repeal Obamacare, in a way that would sharply reduce aid to lower-income families and raise the cost of insurance for many in the middle class.”

DL:: Bravo Dr. Krugman.

Here is one of many good comments I endorse.

gemli

is a trusted commenter Boston 13 hours ago

The logic is clear. For Republicans, there are two groups of people: those with high net worth, and those without. In other words, one group is worth a lot, and the other is worthless. Why would anyone give away precious money to worthless people?

It would be interesting if someone had recorded what went on in those Republican tax strategy sessions. I’m sure it would be similar to Romney’s Moochers and Takers bombshell, except that we’d hear an eerie chorus of wizened Republicans stroking their bankrolls and softly hissing “my precioussss,” much as Gollum did as he stroked The Ring.

These guys simply want all the money. They don’t care who gets hurt, because they’re fixated on the idea that the poor and the needy aren’t worth their keep. Orrin Hatch responded angrily to a similar accusation by a Democrat by saying hey, he was poor once. But of course, now he’s loaded. He’s proven his worth, unlike those lazy takers who didn’t have the wherewithal to become a Senator. Let ‘em eat cake.

Republicans couldn’t get away with this in a country whose citizens were worth saving. It’s a hallmark of the American people that they can be utterly clueless, have no awareness of their self-interests, can be wooed by the most simpleminded scams and yet still find a voting booth and pull a lever that may as well be connected to a trap door under their sorry feet.

 

Opinion | The Republican Tax on the Future

“Of all the lies Republican lawmakers and President Trump tell about their tax bills, the biggest whopper is that these windfall tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy would generate so much growth that they would pay for themselves.

The House and Senate tax bills probably would provide a tiny lift to the economy for a couple years — enough, supporters no doubt hope, for them to cynically claim success. It’s what comes next that the G.O.P. glosses over: the addition of more than a trillion dollars to the federal debt in just 10 years. Far from paying for themselves, these cuts would leave a bill for several future generations to pay off.

In other words, Republican leaders aren’t just trying to transfer money from current middle-class and poor Americans to corporations and the very wealthy. They are also trying to transfer money from future middle-class and poor Americans to corporations and the very wealthy.

In addition, these bills would create new incentives for businesses to move production offshore and increase the trade deficit, which will benefit foreign economies and hurt the very factory workers Mr. Trump claims to fight for.”

David Lindsay: Yes, yes yes. Keep reading. The next section reports that famous economic centers predict that this new tax plan will produce only anemic, .03 to .08 percent growth over ten years, not the 10% predicted by the Trumpsters and GOPsters.

Here are two top comments I endorse:

Bruce Rozenblit

is a trusted commenter Kansas City, MO 2 days ago

There is absolutely nothing stopping any business from investing in their own companies right now. There is something on the order of $2 trillion dollars sitting in American banks right now that corporations hold and could put to work. They also have another $2 trillion sitting in offshore banks. Then they use the lame excuse that if they brought it back, they would have to pay taxes on it. Look, if a business had to expand to meet demand and it had cash overseas to fund it, it would pay the tax and put the cash to work. The reason the money stays over there is that they don’t need it over here.

Now here is the biggest of the big lies. All business expansion and the investment it requires is only made in response to demand or at least anticipated demand. No company builds a plant unless they are confident they have ready customers for what the plant produces. Everything keys off of demand. If a business claims it could use tax cut money to expand, it does so because it already has the demand. But again, cash is available and more importantly so is credit.

Credit rates are very low now. Money is available for expansion. In fact, businesses usually prefer to use debt to finance expansion because they can then leverage off of the debt and deduct the interest.

Forget all the fancy academic studies. The entire trickle down tax cut claim is a crock and everyone knows it. The increased profits from the tax cut will go to the shareholders.

kg in oly wa

Olympia WA 2 days ago

If you are honest, you will gladly accept that President Obama inherited the costs of two wars fought on a credit card; and then had to address the 2008 meltdown of the economy.
I get pretty tired of history revisionists who conveniently forget relevant facts. As the GOP ran up the debt, it was certainly not any member of the Obama administration who claimed that “Deficits don’t matter”. Hypocrisy is staring you in the mirror.
Have a nice day!

  • In Reply to Let’s Be Honest

 

How a Radio Shack Robbery Could Spur a New Era in Digital Privacy

“WASHINGTON — The case that could transform privacy law in the digital era began with the armed robbery of a Radio Shack store in Detroit, a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2010. In the next three months, eight more stores in Michigan and Ohio were robbed at gunpoint.

The robbers took bags filled with smartphones. Their own phones would help send them to prison.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether prosecutors violated the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches, by collecting vast amounts of data from cellphone companies showing the movements of the man they say organized most of the robberies.

Experts in privacy law said the case, Carpenter v. United States, No. 16-402, was a potential blockbuster.

“Carpenter could be the most important electronic privacy case of the 21st century,” said Jeffrey Rosen, the president of the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit group devoted to educating the public about the Constitution.

In a pair of recent decisions, the Supreme Court expressed discomfort with allowing unlimited government access to digital data. It limited the ability of the police to use GPS devices to track suspects’ movements, and it required a warrant to search cellphones.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Interesting story. My first reaction is that the court has to allow this criminal to go to jail, while clarifying that going forward, the government needs to get a search warrant to look into the digital fingerprints we leave by using cell phones and other digital devices, to protect the general public from governmental over reach.

Paul Krugman | Lies- Incoherence and Rage on Tax Cuts – NYT 

“One thing you can count on in 21st-century U.S. politics is that Republicans will lie about taxes. They did it under George W. Bush, they did it under Barack Obama and they’re still doing it under Donald Trump.

Yet this time is different. It’s not just that the lies have gotten even more brazen. There’s now a combination of incoherence and rage that we, or at least I, haven’t seen before. These days, they can’t even seem to get their fake story straight — and they literally start yelling obscenities when someone tries to point out the facts.

G.O.P. lies about taxes generally involve two issues: who is hurt or helped by tax changes, and what these changes will do to the budget.”

Opinion | ‘Only Morons Pay the Estate Tax’ – NYT

“So who actually does pay estate tax?

1. The top 0.2 percent. Some 11,300 American estates — about 0.2 percent — are estimated to be subject to the estate tax this year. The top tenth of income earners pay nearly 90 percent of estate taxes collected, and about one fourth of that total is paid by the richest 0.1 percent. The tax itself has been whittled down significantly. Until 2001, it applied to inheritances starting at $650,000 for an individual. Today, an inheritance must be larger than $5.49 million for an individual or $10.98 million for a couple for their heirs to be liable for any estate tax at all. Opponents of the tax say it taxes earnings twice. But more than half of the biggest estates consist of unrealized capital gains — like stocks that have appreciated without being sold — that have never been previously taxed.”