Trump Cabinet Picks Could Avoid Big Tax Bill

“President-elect Donald Trump’s ultra-wealthy Cabinet nominees will be able to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes in the coming weeks when they sell some of their holdings to avoid conflicts of interest in their new positions,” the Washington Post reports.

“The tax advantage will allow Trump officials, forced by ethics laws to sell certain assets, to skip the weighty tax bills they would otherwise owe on the profits from selling stock and other holdings. The benefit is one of the more subtle ways that the millionaires and billionaires of Trump’s White House, which already will be the wealthiest administration in modern American history, could benefit financially from their transition into the nation’s halls of power.”

Trump Moves to Stop Recounts In 3 States

President-elect Donald Trump and his allies “have filed separate legal challenges in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in a suddenly robust effort to stop the presidential election recount efforts there,” the New York Times reports.

“None of the challenges immediately derailed the recounts in those states, but they promised to complicate them with more legal wrangling by Mr. Trump, groups supportive of him, state officials and Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate.”

Wall Street Journal: “The legal maneuvering may mean the future of the recounts will be decided in state and federal courts in the coming days. All three states are facing a Dec. 13 federal deadline to resolve any lingering disputes about the outcome before the vote of the Electoral College on Dec. 19.”

GOP Plans ‘Repeal and Delay’ for Health Law

“Republicans in Congress plan to move almost immediately next month to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as President-elect Donald Trump promised. But they also are likely to delay the effective date so that they have several years to phase out President Obama’s signature achievement,” the New York Times reports.

“This emerging ‘repeal and delay’ strategy, which Speaker Paul D. Ryan discussed this week with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, underscores a growing recognition that replacing the health care law will be technically complicated and could be politically explosive.”

Palin Blasts Trump Over Deal to Save Indiana Jobs

Sarah Palin called Donald Trump’s deal to save roughly 1,000 jobs at a Carrier plant in Indiana “crony capitalism.”

Wrote Palin: “When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent.”

She added: “Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail.”

Trump Risks China Rift After Call with Taiwan’s President

“Donald Trump risks opening up a major diplomatic dispute with China before he has even been inaugurated after speaking on the phone on Friday with Tsai Ying-wen, the president of Taiwan,” the Financial Times reports.

“The telephone call, confirmed by three people, is believed to be the first between a US president or president-elect and a leader of Taiwan since diplomatic relations between the two were cut in 1979.”

“Although it is not clear if the Trump transition team intended the conversation to signal a broader change in US policy towards Taiwan, the call is likely to infuriate Beijing which regards the island as a renegade province.”

New York Times: “The White House was not told about Mr. Trump’s call until after it happened…  But the potential fallout from the conversation was significant.”

Sometimes Stuff Just Happens

Jonathan Chait: “Consider how the world looked eight years ago. The Republicans lost power amid having let Osama bin Laden and his followers escape in Afghanistan, launched a failed war on the basis of misleading intelligence, managed a scandal-ridden administration stuffed with hacks, handed off an economy plunging into the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and had its outgoing president’s approval ratings bottoming out in the 20s. Barack Obama leaves office with a growing economy throwing off wage gains up and down the income ladder, and with a president whose approval rating has risen into the upper 50s. Some conservative intellectuals tried to grapple with their party’s governing failure in the Bush years, but their mental exertions wound up having no bearing at all on the circumstances that brought their party back to power. Sometimes there is no moral, just a bunch of stuff that happens.”

“The party that needs to search its soul about whether it has the capacity to govern competently is not the one out of power. And what should concern Democrats is not whether they’ll get back in power but what will be left of the country when they do.”

Will Obama Launch a Media Company?

President Obama “has been discussing a post-presidential career in digital media and is considering launching his own media company,” according to Mic.

“Obama considers media to be a central focus of his next chapter, these sources say, though exactly what form that will take — a show streaming on Netflix, a web series on a comedy site or something else — remains unclear. Obama has gone so far as to discuss launching his own media company, according to one source with knowledge of the matter, although he has reportedly cooled on the idea of late.”

Memo Insists Trump Backs Pipeline for Policy Reasons

President-elect Donald Trump “supports completion of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline in the Midwest, based on policy and not the billionaire businessman’s investments in a partnership building the $3.8 billion pipeline,” according to an aide’s memo obtained by the Associated Press.

Spokesman Bryan Lanza said in a memo this week to supporters that Trump’s backing for the pipeline “has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans.”

Many Trump Voters Will Soon Feel Betrayed

Paul Krugman: “Donald Trump won the Electoral College (though not the popular vote) on the strength of overwhelming support from working-class whites, who feel left behind by a changing economy and society. And they’re about to get their reward — the same reward that, throughout Mr. Trump’s career, has come to everyone who trusted his good intentions. Think Trump University.”

“Yes, the white working class is about to be betrayed.”

“The evidence of that coming betrayal is obvious in the choice of an array of pro-corporate, anti-labor figures for key positions. In particular, the most important story of the week — seriously, people, stop focusing on Trump Twitter — was the selection of Tom Price, an ardent opponent of Obamacare and advocate of Medicare privatization, as secretary of health and human services. This choice probably means that the Affordable Care Act is doomed — and Mr. Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters will be among the biggest losers.”

Associated Press: Trump voter lost her home to new Treasury Secretary

No Widespread Voter Fraud Despite Trump Claims

Despite voter fraud concerns espoused by Donald Trump and his presidential campaign, a new Dartmouth study finds that “are not grounded in any observable features of the 2016 presidential election.”

The researchers specifically looked at two sets of states recently highlighted as potentially problematic: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (the subject of ongoing recount efforts) and California, New Hampshire, and Virginia (three states cited personally by Trump).

Trump’s Commerce Pick Once Supported TPP

“Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s pick to be Commerce secretary, signed a letter in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in 2015,” CNN reports.

“Since then, Ross has emerged as a vocal critic of trade deals… Ross has made other statements in conflict with Donald Trump in recent years, including the assertion jobs would never come back to the United States from China.”