Karl Rove: “Passing tax reform has now become an existential imperative. The electoral disaster that might visit Republicans if they can’t get tax reform done ought to galvanize leaders at each end of Pennsylvania Avenue and reinforce a bit of old wisdom: that the perfect should not be allowed to be the enemy of the good.”
Archives for September 2017
White House economic adviser Gary Cohn told ABC News that he can’t guarantee that taxes won’t go up for some middle-class families under the administration’s sweeping tax overhaul.
Said Cohn: “There’s an exception to every rule. I can’t guarantee anything. You can always find a unique family somewhere.”
“We made sure we’re on the same page… we made sure we did the hard lifting and the tough work ahead of rollout. We are all in on this… this is it. This is the game changer for our economy.”
— Speaker Paul Ryan, in an interview with CNBC, on the Republican tax plan.
Joshua Green: “Bannon, who’s been consulting with Henry Kissinger and other foreign policy veterans, is preparing a project to sound an alarm about what he views as the primary economic threat to America: China.”
Said Bannon: “If we don’t get our situation sorted with China, we’ll be destroyed economically. The forced technology transfer of American innovation to China is the single biggest economic and business issue of our time. Until we sort that out, they will continue to appropriate our innovation to their own system and leave us as a colony—our Jamestown to their Great Britain, a tributary state.”
Amy Walter: “At this point, Democrats have a 10-point ‘enthusiasm’ advantage over Republicans – 44% to 34%. What’s more, this gap is considerably larger than the one Republicans had at this point in 2009. Back in late October of 2009, Republicans had a one-point enthusiasm advantage.”
James Hohmann: “More than 50 million ballots were cast by Floridians in the seven presidential elections from 1992 through 2016. If you add them all up, only 18,000 votes separate the Republicans from the Democrats. That is 0.04 percent.”
“Florida is rightfully considered the swingiest of swing states. Control of the White House in 2000 came down to a few hundred hanging chads – and one vote on the Supreme Court. The past four statewide elections – two governor’s races and two presidentials – were all decided by a single percentage point.”
“So it could be quite politically significant that tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans, maybe more, are expected to permanently move into Florida as the result of Hurricane Maria.”
NBC News: “The clearest windfall comes from ending the estate tax, which only affects individual estates larger than $5.49 million and $11 million for couples. The estate tax is currently 40 percent. Trump has claimed in the past he is worth $10 billion. If his children inherit that amount, they’d save $4 billion in taxes.”
“In addition to a lower top rate on income tax, the proposal ends the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is designed to prevent wealthy filers from using deductions to wipe out their tax bill entirely. Trump has not released his taxes, but a leaked return from 2005 showed he paid $38 million in taxes on $150 million in income, $31 million of which was due to the AMT.”
New York Times: “For years, Republican lawmakers lamented the soaring national debt, pressing for spending cuts and clinging to the mantle of fiscal responsibility. But last week, Senate Republicans hammered out a deal to allow for as much as $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, betting that supercharged growth will make up for lost revenue, a potentially dubious prospect.”
“This month, the majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate voted to raise the debt limit without doing anything to rein in spending.”
“Republican lawmakers are pushing to increase military spending by tens of billions of dollars, topping even Mr. Trump’s request for a beefed-up military… And as Congress mulls large tax cuts, the tabs for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria keep rising.”
Associated Press: How do you pay for an estimated $5.8 trillion tax cut?
Time: “It was a remarkable thing for a President to devote so much energy to attacking athletes for peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. But the spat over sports was… a move straight from Trump’s political playbook.”
“He spotted a wedge issue that pits his rural, conservative white base against both wealthy black athletes and liberal elites who scold the NFL for everything from racist team logos to soft-pedaling the risks of head trauma.”
Mike Allen: “Some conservative Republicans worry about a ‘nightmare scenario’ for the party: no health care repeal, no tax reform — and the party’s top two accomplishments of this Congress are a ‘bailout’ for insurance companies (fixes to the Affordable Care Act), and ‘amnesty’ (Dreamer legislation).”
“That would depress Republicans and excite Democrats — the surest formula for the GOP to blow its majorities.”
Speaker Paul Ryan “said it was ‘extremely frustrating’ that the Republican majority in the Senate had been unable to push through pieces of the GOP agenda that have passed in the House,” Politico reports.
“Equipped with graphs highlighting the disparity between the number of bills passed by the House and the number that have stalled in the Senate, Ryan (R-WI) aired his grievances during an interview on Fox News. He cited the upper chamber’s inability to convert on the Republican Party’s major goals thus far during the Trump administration.”
New York Times: “Republicans are confronting an insurrection on the right that is angry enough to imperil their grip on Congress, and senior party strategists have concluded that the conservative base now loathes its leaders in Washington the same way it detested President Barack Obama… Mr. Strange’s demise, senior party strategists and conservative activists said Wednesday, makes it likelier that Republican incumbents in the House and Senate will face serious primary challenges in 2018, fueled by anger at the party’s apparent ineptitude at wielding power in Washington.”
“Republicans increasingly worry that their base’s contempt for Mr. McConnell is more potent than its love for Mr. Trump. Mr. McConnell could be an anchor around incumbents in the same fashion as Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, who is routinely used to undermine Democratic candidates.”
Politico: Bannon’s next move: Repeat Alabama.
“On Monday, there were some tense moments for Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, as word got out Trump wasn’t thrilled with the framework,” sources tell Jonathan Swan.
“Trump wanted to propose an even lower corporate rate. It’s The Art of the Deal: Don’t open the bidding with the number you ultimately want — 20% (the figure announced yesterday), down from 35%. Open with an extreme bid and work back. Trump wanted to propose 15%.”
“Trump was also attuned to the political risks of raising the bottom rate from 10% to 12%, while cutting the top individual rate. (That would shift the pitch to a zero rate with the doubling of the standard deduction, and leave room for a higher top rate. Yesterday’s plan could drop the top rate for individuals to 35% from 39.6%.)”
“On Monday, Republicans on the Hill were genuinely uneasy, and thought there was a chance POTUS wouldn’t sign off.”
Playbook: “If Congress can’t squeeze through a big tax reform package this year, there’s already talk among some about passing a smaller package of tax cuts before the end of 2017, with the promise of trying to complete a larger reform effort in 2018. This would be a way for Republicans to say they gave the tax relief they promised. With health care reform far off, tax is the ball game for Republicans as they head into the 2018 election. There is optimism — some would call it exuberance — that Republicans will be able to get a large-scale tax package through in the 36 legislative days before the year’s up.”
For members: Why Tax Reform Isn’t Going Anywhere
New York Times: “For three weeks, a harsh spotlight has been trained on Facebook over its disclosure that Russians used fake pages and ads, designed to look like the work of American activists, to spread inflammatory messages during and since the presidential campaign.”
“But there is evidence that Twitter may have been used even more extensively than Facebook in the Russian influence campaign last year. In addition to Russia-linked Twitter accounts that posed as Americans, the platform was also used for large-scale automated messaging, using ‘bot’ accounts to spread false stories and promote news articles about emails from Democratic operatives that had been obtained by Russian hackers.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “has taken at least four noncommercial and military flights since mid-February, costing taxpayers more than $58,000 to fly him to various parts of the country,” the Washington Post reports.