November 30th, 2017

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ON THE RECORD.....


“There is no compassion whatsoever in the White House. I’m just beside myself with sadness because our president is a bully, our president is a punk, and he just doesn’t get it. I don’t know where he was raised, but his family didn’t do a good job raising that guy.” — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D)

The Navy, I can tell you, we're ordering ships, with the Air Force I can tell you we're ordering a lot of planes, in particular the F-35 fighter jet, which is like almost like an invisible fighter. I was asking the Air Force guys, I said, "How good is this plane?" They said, "Well, sir, you can't see it." I said, "But in a fight. You know, in a fight, like I watch on the movies. The fight, they're fighting. How good is this?" They say, "Well, it wins every time because the enemy cannot see it. Even if it's right next to them, it can't see it." I said, "That helps. That's a good thing.Trump

If Congress is going to probe the conduct of members such as Conyers and Franken, it must also investigate the multiple, believable allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump. If they are true, the president must be censured. --  Eugene Robinson

“What he told people was a fraud. It’s in keeping with his bankruptcies and his Trump University. He is a con artist, and that’s what Mike Bloomberg called him at our convention and every day that goes by seems to prove that.” — Hillary Clinton about Donald Trump.

“Trump creates his own reality and lives in his own reality and tries to bend reality around himself and his own deep narcissistic needs. But, of course, in the end reality wins out, and trying to disfigure it or reinterpret it doesn’t work.” -- Peter Wehner, a veteran of three Republican administrations and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

“Republican senators have a choice. They can follow the will of their donors and vote to take money from the middle class and give it to the wealthiest people in the world. Or they can vote no, to protect the public and the financial health of the government. There’s no compromise on that.” -- NY Times Editorial

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Claims Voice on “Access Hollywood” Tape Is Actually Hillary Clinton Imitating Him
2. The DAILY GRILL
3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
4. Trump Shares Inflammatory Anti-Muslim Videos
5. From the Late Shows
6. Former Alabama police officer: We were told to make sure Moore didn't hang around cheerleaders
7. Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known
8. GOP deficit hawks fear tax plan is secret budget-buster
9. States prepare to shut down children’s health programs if Congress doesn’t act
10. Congress coming back to crush of unfinished business
11. Late Night Jokes for Dems
12. The Senate’s tax bill is a sweeping change to every part of federal health care

OPINION

1. Paul Krugman: The Biggest Tax Scam in History
2. Jeff Stein: 37 of 38 economists said the GOP tax plans would grow the debt. The 38th misread the question.
3. Joe Romm: 15,000 scientists warn it will soon be too late to avoid climate catastrophe
4. Jeff Spross: The Republican tax bill is in serious trouble
5. Tory Newmyer: The Finance 202: There is something very strange about the GOP tax plan
6. Charles M. Blow: Thankfully Recommitting to Resistance
7. Charles J. Sykes: Whatever happened to the party of fiscal responsibility?
8. Chris Cillizza: Donald Trump's secret? There is no secret

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Claims Voice on “Access Hollywood” Tape Is Actually Hillary Clinton Imitating Him

Casting further doubt on the authenticity of his notorious “Access Hollywood” tape, Donald J. Trump said on Monday that the voice on the tape was actually that of Hillary Clinton, imitating him.

“That’s not me on the tape,” he said. “That’s Hillary faking like she is me.”

“In addition to being evil, Hillary Clinton is a woman of a thousand voices,” he said. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. The DAILY GRILL

"I was asking the Air Force guys, I said, how good is this plane? They said, well, sir, you can't see it. I said, yeah, but in a fight -- you know, a fight -- like I watch in the movies -- they fight, they're fighting. How good is this?" -- Trump at a Coast Guard station in Florida to celebrate Thanksgiving explaining how everything is now better thanks to, well, him.

VERSUS

"A fight -- like I watch in the movies." No Words.-- Chris Cillizza

 

"ObamaCare premiums are going up, up, up, just as I have been predicting for two years. ObamaCare is OWNED by the Democrats, and it is a disaster. But do not worry. Even though the Dems want to Obstruct, we will Repeal & Replace right after Tax Cuts!" -- Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

This is getting rather disturbingly repetitive, because in 11 months in office, he hasn't learned how any of this works. No, Obamacare is not a disaster. Enrollments are going along quite well, despite his best efforts to sabotage them. Premiums are increasing, but in part because of his sabotage, some people are able to get plans for free, and many more for less than $50 a month in premiums. That might be why enrollments are running at record levels in this year's open enrollment.-- Jean McCarter in the Daily Kos

 


Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named “Man (Person) of the Year,” like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway! -- Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

Hate to tell you but that PROBABLY means you’re NOT Person of the Year. They just wanted a photo shoot. But I’m sure you still have that fake TIME cover somewhere in storage. -- Richard Stengel‏@stengel

 

.@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them! -- Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life. Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment. -- Gen Michael Hayden@GenMhayden

3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Breitbart's Joel Pollak cites a Ringo Starr song to defend Roy Moore against child molestation allegations. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/11/27/breitbarts-joel-pollak-cites-ringo-starr-song-defend-roy-moore-against-pedophilia-allegations/218641

NRATV: The Second Amendment gives "firepower" to stand up to liberal bureaucrats: National Rifle Association's news show suggests violence to remedy the fact that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau employees tend to donate to Democrats. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/11/29/nratv-second-amendment-gives-firepower-stand-liberal-bureaucrats/218673

4. Trump Shares Inflammatory Anti-Muslim Videos

Trump shared videos supposedly portraying Muslims committing acts of violence on Twitter early Wednesday morning, images that are likely to fuel anti-Islam sentiments popular among the president’s political base in the United States.

The retweeted the videos were from an ultranationalist British party leader, Jayda Fransen, who has previously been charged in the United Kingdom with ‘religious aggravated harassment. The videos were titled: “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!,” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/29/us/politics/trump-anti-muslim-videos-jayda-fransen.html

5. From the Late Shows

Robert Mueller Zeroes in on Jared Kushner: A Closer Look https://youtu.be/3ncMdLwPGMk

SNL Cold Open: Donald Trump Trucker Rally (revisited): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfVobgfXE34

Come Back, Barack - SNL https://youtu.be/ZkPSbp3zTfo

The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper - Swing States Are in Danger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay9pHynWL2s

6. Former Alabama police officer: We were told to make sure Moore didn't hang around cheerleaders

A retired Alabama police officer said police were told in the 1970s to make sure now-GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore stayed away from high school cheerleaders because the “rumor mill was that he liked young girls,” The Hill reports.

Said former Gadsden police officer Faye Gary: “We were advised that he was being suspended from the mall because he would hang around the young girls that worked in the stores and, you know, really got into a place of where they say he was harassing. http://thehill.com/homenews/news/361569-former-alabama-police-officer-we-were-told-to-make-sure-moore-didnt-hang-around

7. Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known

Political guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties.

Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc architect has said. A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a former Russian intelligence agent, “100 percent.”

It was this background that Manafort brought to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which he joined in early 2016 and soon led. His web of connections to Russia-loyal potentates is now a focus of federal investigators. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/article186102003.html

8. GOP deficit hawks fear tax plan is secret budget-buster

As the Senate steams toward a vote next week on its massive tax overhaul, the fight over the bill’s true sticker price may be the deciding factor for the bill. It was bad enough, in the deficit hawks’ view, that key provisions in the House bill expire in five years and that lawmakers already assume they’ll get extended. But their concerns multiplied after the revised Senate GOP tax plan proposed winding down a host of popular tax cuts for individuals after 2025. The tax cuts were made temporary to trim the official cost of the bill, but deficit hawks fear Congress will simply extend them — further adding to the government’s red ink. https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/24/republicans-tax-reform-plan-deficit-cost-257604

9. States prepare to shut down children’s health programs if Congress doesn’t act

Officials in nearly a dozen states are preparing to notify families that a crucial health insurance program for low-income children is running out of money for the first time since its creation two decades ago, putting coverage for many at risk by the end of the year.

Congress missed a Sept. 30 deadline to extend funding for CHIP, as the Children’s Health Insurance Program is known. Nearly 9 million youngsters and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide receive care because of it.

Many states have enough money to keep their individual programs afloat for at least a few months, but five could run out in late December if lawmakers do not act. Others will start to exhaust resources the following month.

The looming crunch, which comes despite CHIP’s enduring popularity and bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, has dismayed children’s health advocates. http://www.denverpost.com/2017/11/24/states-colorado-prepare-to-shut-down-chip-childrens-health-insurance/

10. Congress coming back to crush of unfinished business

The crush of unfinished business facing lawmakers when they return to the Capitol would be daunting even if Washington were functioning at peak efficiency.

It’s an agenda whose core items — tax cuts, a potential government shutdown, lots of leftover spending bills — could unravel just as easily as advance amid factionalism, gamesmanship, and a toxic political environment.

There’s only a four-week window until a Christmas deadline, barely enough time for complicated negotiations even if December stays on the rails. And that’s hardly a sure bet in President Trump’s capital. https://apnews.com/a7c2e1e9a66444f2982310e9d6acce3b/Looming-deadlines,-much-unfinished-business-await-Congress

11. Late Night Jokes for Dems

Today was the annual presidential turkey pardoning at the White House. The president pardoned two turkeys today — and then immediately criticized them on Twitter for not being grateful enough. -- James Corden

During the ceremony, Trump tried to make a joke about overturning Obama's pardons from last year, at which point the turkeys in front of Trump were like, "You know what, just kill us now." -- James Corden

The White House just unveiled its holiday display, and it has a nativity scene, marking the first time all year there’s been Wise Men at the White House. -- Jimmy Fallon

People are mad at President Trump for meeting with Native American leaders in front of a portrait of anti-Native American president Andrew Jackson. Even worse, today President Trump met with Hispanic leaders in front of a portrait of President Trump. -- Conan O’Brien

12. The Senate’s tax bill is a sweeping change to every part of federal health care

The Senate tax bill is really a health care bill with major implications for more than 100 million Americans who rely on the federal government for their health insurance.

The bill reaches into every major American health care program: Medicaid, Medicare, and the Obamacare marketplaces.

The bill also includes tax cuts so large that they would trigger across-the-board spending cuts — including billions for Medicare. The last time Medicare was hit with cuts like this, patients lost access to critical services like chemotherapy treatment.

The tax bill’s policies will cause millions of vulnerable Americans to lose coverage, disrupt care for the elderly, and potentially change the health care system in other ways we can’t fully predict. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/29/16712430/senate-tax-bill-change-federal-health-care

 
OPINION

1. Paul Krugman: The Biggest Tax Scam in History

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.

So will they manage to pull off this giant con job? The reason they’re rushing this to the Senate floor without a single hearing, without a full assessment from Congress’s own official scorekeepers, is their hope that they can pass the thing before people figure out what they’re up to.

And the question is whether there are enough Republican senators with principles, who believe that policies should not be sold with lies, to stop this bum’s rush. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/27/opinion/senate-tax-bill-scam.html

 

2. Jeff Stein: 37 of 38 economists said the GOP tax plans would grow the debt. The 38th misread the question.

An overwhelming majority of academic economists say in a new survey that the Republican tax proposals would cause America's debt to grow by one critical measure.

Thirty-seven of 38 experts surveyed by the University of Chicago's Initiative on Global Markets agreed that the GOP tax bills in Congress would cause U.S. debt to increase "substantially" faster than the economy.

Only one economist — Stanford's Liran Einav — said that he was “uncertain” if the bills would exacerbate America's debt-to-GDP ratio. But after the survey's release, Einav said his response had been a mistake, and that he actually agrees with the economists who expect the debt ratio to soar. (Four other economists in the IGM panel didn't answer the question one way or the other.)

“I did it too fast and didn't read the question properly,” Einav said in an email.

(The survey results mirror an episode in May, in which 35 of 37 economists concluded the tax cuts would not pay for themselves in terms of their impact on the federal budget. The two who disagreed later said they misread the question and had meant to answer with the majority.)

The growing expert consensus that the bills would balloon the deficit — even in the absence of a Congressional Budget Office report — has real implications for the bills' chances of becoming law. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/11/22/37-of-38-economists-said-the-gop-tax-plans-would-grow-the-debt-the-38th-misread-the-question/

3. Joe Romm: 15,000 scientists warn it will soon be too late to avoid climate catastrophe

More than 15,000 researchers — “the most scientists to ever co-sign and formally support a published journal article” as the article itself notes — want the world to know things are getting worse and time is running out. “Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.”

The authors do note some promising trends. For instance, “The rapid global decline in ozone-depleting substances shows that we can make positive change when we act decisively. We have also made advancements in reducing extreme poverty and hunger.” In addition we’ve seen “the promising decline in the rate of deforestation in some regions, and the rapid growth in the renewable-energy sector.”

But all of those gains are in the process of being overwhelmed by our inaction on the other key trends. The scientists explain, “Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels, deforestation,and agricultural production” (especially from livestock farming). Also, humanity has “unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.”

The bottom line is that “To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual.” Of course, the scientists note, this is the same warning scientists issued a quarter-century ago. Now, thanks to our dawdling, “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.”

It’s way past time for action, and on our current trajectory, there may well not be a third warning. https://thinkprogress.org/15000-scientists-warn-humanity-479e950ff929/

4. Jeff Spross: The Republican tax bill is in serious trouble

The centerpieces of the GOP tax plan are a few big tax cuts: the cut to the profits tax paid by C-corporations, cuts to individual tax rates, repealing the alternative minimum tax, and attempts to cut the taxes paid by small businesses and other "pass-through" companies. These all overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. And while the House and Senate might take different approaches, the goals remain the same.

The problem is that Republicans decided to pass this legislation without any help from Democrats. So the Senate GOP is using reconciliation, a procedural tool that lets them avoid the 60-vote threshold of the filibuster. But bills passed by reconciliation can't add to the deficit after a decade and have to remain within a certain threshold before then. And in an earlier debate over future budget blueprints, the Senate GOP pegged that golden number at $1.5 trillion.

So the party needs to raise revenue to offset the massive cuts it wants to make. That means a tax hike on someone, which means clear winners and losers. But those losers are someone's constituents. And the Republican Senate can only afford to lose two votes, putting it in a very, very precarious position.

The math is simply hard to make work.

Basically, the Republican Party appears hellbent on delivering a massive tax cut payday for its big-money donors. The ugly politics and budget math of that means they have to perform the most treacherous of high wire acts.

And the GOP's balance is looking pretty shaky. http://theweek.com/articles/737792/republican-tax-bill-serious-trouble


5. Tory Newmyer: The Finance 202: There is something very strange about the GOP tax plan

The Republican push to overhaul the code is far enough along that it’s raising alarms from economists across the country. The latest came Tuesday, when only one of 42 top economists surveyed by the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business thought the tax proposals moving through Congress would meaningfully expand the economy over a decade (22 disagreed or strongly disagreed, 15 were uncertain and the rest didn't answer). And none of those economists, a sampling spanning the ideological spectrum, disagreed the measures would leave the nation saddled with a substantially heavier debt load relative to the size of the economy. 

Add that verdict by academic economists to those from Washington think tanks and Wall Street banks, chronicled in this space yesterday. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center summarized the “crowding out” effect that most expect from all the borrowing that the federal government will need to do to finance the tax cuts: 

Although the legislation would increase incentives to save and invest, it would also substantially increase budget deficits unless offset by spending cuts. Higher deficits would push up interest rates, which would tend to discourage investment. Thus, while the plan would initially increase investment, we estimate that rising interest rates would eventually negate the incentive effects of lower tax rates on capital income and decrease investment below baseline levels in later years. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-finance-202/2017/11/22/the-finance-202-there-is-something-very-strange-about-the-gop-tax-plan/5a1471fd30fb0469e883f730/

6. Charles M. Blow: Thankfully Recommitting to Resistance

Donald Trump, I thought that your presidency would be a disaster. It’s worse than a disaster. I wasn’t sure that resistance to your weakening of the republic, your coarsening of the culture, your assault on truth and honesty, your erosion of our protocols, would feel as urgent today as it felt last year. But if anything, that resistance now feels more urgent.

Nothing about you has changed for the better. You are still a sexist, bigoted, bullying, self-important simpleton. But now all of the worst of you has the force of the American presidency.

The degree to which Russia aided your ascendance, and the degree to which people connected to your campaign were willing and eager to entertain entreaties from Russia, are coming into clearer focus everyday.

The legitimacy of your presidency is in question. The corruption of your administration is not. You are a national stain and an international embarrassment. You are anti-intellectual and pro-impulse. The same fingers with which you compulsively tweet are dangerously close to the nuclear codes. You are historically unpopular and history will not be kind to you. It is all so dizzyingly distressing. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/23/opinion/thanksgiving-trump-resistance.html

7. Charles J. Sykes: Whatever happened to the party of fiscal responsibility?

Not that long ago, Rep. Paul Ryan was freaked out about the national debt.

The "red tidal wave of debt," he told Sean Hannity back in 2012, would trigger what he called the "most predictable economic crisis we have ever had in this country." Debt would mean nothing less than the "end of the American dream."

In 2012, the debt stood at $15 trillion, and the exploding costs of entitlements, Ryan said, meant that "by the time my grandkids are raising their grandkids, we are taking 80 cents out of every dollar just to pay for this federal government at that time."

Ryan, who was then House Budget Committee chairman and soon to be the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, warned that the debt crisis would be catastrophic to the American way of life, leading to a massive rise in interest rates and — eventually — “bitter austerity” measures including “cuts to current seniors” and “cuts to the safety net.”

For years, conservatives bemoaned the greatest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history. Now it’s all about #winning.

He also said the crisis was imminent: "All the experts are telling us we have about two to three years, is the time frame they tell us."

That was five years ago. Ryan is now speaker of the House, and the national debt now exceeds $20 trillion. But he's pushing ahead with tax cuts that are likely to increase that figure by trillions more. And that's only part of the story.

The GOP retreat from fiscal conservatism is twofold: The tax plan helps balloon federal deficits, and it does nothing to address the rising costs of entitlements as the population grows older and sicker.

So perhaps it's not surprising that, as he touts a massive tax cut, Paul Ryan doesn't talk much about the catastrophic "debt crisis" anymore. But not talking about it doesn't mean that it will go away; only that someone else will have to clean up the mess. http://beta.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-sykes-gop-fiscal-20171110-story.html

8. Chris Cillizza: Donald Trump's secret? There is no secret

Let me remind you: If nothing in the way of government funding passes between now and December 8 -- that's exactly 10 days from now -- the government will shut down. And let me also remind you: A government shutdown -- given historical midterm trends for the President's party, the lack of legislative accomplishments for the Republican Congress and Trump's middling approval numbers -- would almost certainly be a political catastrophe for Republicans.

Trump seems blissfully unaware of that history. "Well, if [a shutdown] happens, I would absolutely blame the Democrats," he said Tuesday afternoon. "If it happens, it's going to be over illegals pouring into the country, crime pouring into the country, no border wall -- which everybody wants."

What explains Trump's decision to provoke Pelosi and Schumer in advance of the meeting? Some of Trump's allies will insist that he is playing a strategic game that people like me are just too dumb to see. That by forcing Democrats to walk away from the table, Trump will improve his party's leverage. Or something.

But the simpler explanation is that Trump is playing -- and has always been playing -- zero-dimensional chess. There is no grand strategy. There is no broad blueprint. There is just impulse, reaction and then reaction to the reaction.

Put more simply: Trump just says stuff. Like calling Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas" at an event honoring Native American code talkers for their service during World War II. Or suggesting to people that maybe, just maybe, the "Access Hollywood" tape is a fake. Or one of a thousand other things Trump has said since being elected president.

The arc of his presidency is that there is no arc. There are just a series of dots on a board. You can try to draw a line in between them all but there's really no through line other than ego and personal grievance.
That's it. Remember that Trump declared proudly in the opening passage of his seminal "Art of the Deal" that he liked to sit at his desk every morning with no set plan and no real schedule. As a businessman, Trump liked to let the world come to him and react to it. That's the exact same philosophy he's brought to the White House.

There is no long game at work here. There is no game at all. It's zero-dimensional chess. Which isn't chess at all. http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/28/politics/trump-shutdown-zero-dimensional/index.html

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