From what I’ve been reading, the Republicans in Congress don’t understand what kind of tax reform Americans want.
Americans want the kind of tax reform where they pay less in total taxes, not more, or the same but divided up differently.
For instance, if the rate is lowered but taxpayers don’t get to deduct state and local taxes, and they end up paying more, who cares that the rate is lower.
The more I read about how the Republicans are lowering the taxes by raising the lowest rate from 10 percent to 12 percent, but increasing the standard deduction, the more I think they are simply playing with numbers.
It’s beginning to sound more and more like Obamacare, which was going to lower the cost of healthcare insurance. Or how about the repeal of Obamacare, which Republicans talked about for seven years and then couldn’t find the votes to pass.
If the Republicans were really talking about tax reform where the people paid less of their money to the government, then they would also have to be talking about spending cuts; but where are the spending cuts? If the rates are lowered so that the federal government starts borrowing more, that doesn’t sound like a good solution either.
No one is going to understand this tax reform any more than the current tax code. It sounds like they are cutting some of the pie off one side and then adding it back on the other. As long as the tax code remains as complicated as it is, the government is not going to get more money out of the rich than they are willing to pay because they can hire better accountants and attorneys than the government has and figure ways out of any new tax.
The top tax rate is supposed to be lowered from 39.6 percent to 35 percent; but does anyone think that there are ultra rich in this country who actually pay 39.6 percent on their income? They don’t because they take advantage of the tax code, just like everyone else, but they do it better because they have more money to spend on getting the best deal possible.
Real tax reform would involve something like a true flat tax, where the rate was what people actually paid on their income – but that isn’t going to happen.
After the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, it was first reported that Stephen Paddock just “snapped.” That doesn’t seem like an accurate representation of what happened because of the number of weapons and the meticulous planning. Paddock acquired the 23 guns he had in the hotel room over a period of time, so as not to draw attention to himself, and not only had guns altered to shoot like automatic weapons, he must have done a good deal of practicing with those weapons to be certain the “bump stocks” he used would work. He must have planned the attack for months.
At his homes he had another 20 or so weapons. Acquiring 40 some firearms without attracting attention took time, as did learning how to alter semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatic rifles. One of the issues with a bump stock is accuracy, but firing into a crowd of 22,000 from 500 yards away, he didn’t need accuracy.
It was a well-planned attack. Being so far away from the event made it impossible for him to be stopped or for people to get away. People ran, but they were no safer running than holding still unless they got out of his range. They also lay on the ground, which would not decrease the chance of being hit. Paddock was spraying bullets into the packed crowd; there was little chance of missing.
It was an awful act, but this was not a case of a guy who had a bad night gambling and decided to take it out on the world. He planned it, waited for the concert area to become packed and then opened fire.
It took the police an hour to get in the room, and it would have likely taken longer if the smoke alarm in his room had not been set off by the smoke from all the rounds fired.
It’s hard to believe that he didn’t have a reason to plan and carry out such a horrific attack.
What it proves is that we are all vulnerable.
And perhaps the worst part is that attacks like this often attract copycat killers. Who would attend an outdoor concert in an area surrounded by tall buildings today?
Hillary Clinton once again made an inane comment about a tragedy. Her statement about silencers or suppressors makes no sense and is, as usual, inaccurate.
If the shooter in Las Vegas had used a suppressor, it certainly would not have resulted in more deaths, but it might have resulted in fewer because suppressors tend to overheat, melt and make the gun harder to operate. It would have dampened the noise from the guns, but the reduction in noise would not have made much difference.
Hillary Clinton has routinely confused semi-automatic weapons and automatic weapons, so there is no reason to think she would understand what a suppressor actually does and doesn’t do.
It wasn’t the noise that led the police to Paddock’s room but the smoke alarm.
I have absolutely no problem with millionaire professional football players protesting the way this country has mistreated them by providing a profession where, right out of college, they rise to the top 0.2 percent of all wage earners in the country, and if they are at all successful in their profession they jump to the top 0.1 percent pretty quickly.
They can protest how awful this country is to them all they want because I won’t be watching. I would say that I would boycott the products like Nike that the NFL endorses, but it would be meaningless because I haven’t bought a Nike product in years.
It would be helpful if some spokesman for the players would explain exactly what they are protesting. Is it the president and the Republican Party, which is considering giving them a huge tax break? Is it the treatment of society toward people of color, or is it something else?
But those who find the protest objectionable only have to stop buying products advertised during NFL games for a couple of weeks and the protest will go away.
If, for instance, Nike sales drop a couple percent in the upcoming weeks, you can bet that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s attitude about protests will change. Suddenly he will decide that the NFL should enforce its own rule about the behavior of players during the playing of the national anthem.
This is all about money. Goodell thought that the way to get through this situation losing the least amount of money was to allow the players to do what they wanted until the whole thing went away.
And if it had not been for President Donald John Trump, he might have been right. But Trump decided that it was an issue, and that made it much more of an issue.
The fact that American players in London wouldn’t stand for their own national anthem but would stand for “God Save the Queen” is an embarrassment to the country. It shows disrespect not only for those in the military and those who have fought and died for our country, but to every citizen in the country. It also once again raises the question, what are they protesting.
Some of the players say they are kneeling or sitting to protest the racial injustice in the country. The question that they should each be asked is, what else have they done to fight for racial equality. Have they spoken to groups, have they donated a percentage of their enormous salaries, have they volunteered with groups that fight for social justice? Football players have a lot of power because they are celebrities.
Do they even have some ideas about what should be done to promote racial justice? What is it that they want someone to do to solve the problem and who do they want to do it?
Trump continues to be extremely popular with his base. The people who elected Trump president love it when he does things like call Kim Jong Un of North Korea “Rocket Man” and promises to destroy him.
But it is becoming more and more apparent that Trump is now relying far too heavily on Chief of Staff John Kelly and other advisors who have completely different political agendas.
Trump should not even have under consideration allowing the illegal immigrants currently in the country a pathway to citizenship. What he said when he was running was that illegal immigrants would be sent home and given the opportunity to enter the country legally, and if they did so, they would have the same pathway to citizenship as everyone else. He said that people would not be moved to the front of the line because they had broken US laws, crossed the border illegally and worked in this country illegally.
Now it appears he is backing down from that promise to his voters. Trump was consistent when he was campaigning and one thing he talked about at every rally was building a wall and, once the border was secure, sending illegal immigrants home.
If Trump allows the Dreamers a path to citizenship, and that provides a path to citizenship for everyone in their families, then he will accomplish what former President Barack Obama could not: He will have established a path to citizenship for most of the illegal immigrants in the country.
The Republicans haven’t been able to get Obamacare repeal through the Senate because they have some senators who are going to vote against anything that Trump supports. It is true that the Obamacare repeal bills were far less than perfect, but every bill passed by Congress has been less than perfect.
The problem that the Senate had with the Obamacare repeal bills is that three senators felt they had more to gain by voting against the bill than for it.
Sen. John McCain saw a chance to stab Trump in the back and at the same time grab three minutes of fame for himself. The Republican senators in favor of the bill weren’t being constantly interviewed on the news, but McCain was.
What Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has to do is figure out how to make it palatable for McCain and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – and you have to wonder how she ever became registered as a Republican since she is against everything the Republicans want to do – but there must be something that McConnell could offer to make it better for those opposed to everything Trump to vote for the bill rather than against it.
For McCain, why not take him off the Armed Services Committee. Don’t just take away his chairmanship, remove him entirely from every committee he wants to be on. He has a huge ego; give him the smallest office on Capitol Hill, or put him in trailer in the parking lot.
Maybe McConnell should meet with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and ask for some pointers. Schumer consistently delivers 48 votes for whatever the Democrats want. Why can’t McConnell deliver 50 of his 52 votes?
If Schumer doesn’t want to help his old friend in the Senate, maybe McConnell could ask former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who passed a lot of controversial legislation while he was speaker. Gingrich definitely had to twist some arms to get that legislation through the House, but he did it.
The best option for the Senate Republicans is to fire McConnell, but they don’t want to do that for some reason. McConnell can’t get 50 of his 52 votes to agree on anything, but somehow when it comes to getting the votes he needs to be majority leader he has no problem.
Part of the problem is Trump’s inexperience. One of his first acts as president should have been to bring the Senate leadership into the Oval Office and make a deal with them to elect someone other than McConnell as majority leader. The president doesn’t get a vote in electing the majority leader, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have any influence.
Great news for the GOP: Ohio Gov. John Kasich is talking about leaving the party if it isn’t fixed. What Kasich called anti-immigrant policies were ones that he said needed to be fixed for him to stay in the party.
If the GOP were smart, and sadly it is not, it would make sure that whatever Kasich is whining about this week isn’t fixed so he will leave the party. The Republican Party should provide a car to take him down to the elections office so he can change his party registration to Democrat and let the Democrats deal with Kasich, who has an ego bigger than his state. If it’s legal, the Republican Party should offer to pay him $1 million or more to change his registration.
Kasich stayed in the Republican presidential primary long after serious candidates had dropped out, candidates who consistently had higher vote totals than Kasich. He stayed at the bottom of the pack and yet he thought he was going to win and convinced many of his followers there was a legitimate path to the nomination for him.
I know that Puerto Rico is no laughing matter, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t funny happenings.
Take for instance the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, who is complaining that they need federal help and they are being hit with inefficiency and bureaucracy.
No doubt when the word got back to Washington that someone was complaining that the federal government was both inefficient and bureaucratic, two dozen committees were formed and 100 new lawyers and consultants hired to discover how the government – which the day before had been so efficient and streamlined – had suddenly become inefficient and bureaucratic.
If she had even stayed awake for five minutes in her US history class, Yulin Cruz would know that the first problems with inefficiency and bureaucracy in the US government were reported in 1789. That’s a little inaccurate because Gen. George Washington had been complaining about inefficiency and bureaucracy as early as 1776, but since the government didn’t really exist then, it seems unfair to count anything before the ratification of the Constitution.
Yes, Yulin Cruz, the federal government is extremely inefficient and horribly bureaucratic, but you have a couple of choices. You can accept that and work with it or you can decide you need a more efficient and less bureaucratic government, in which case you shouldn’t be looking to the federal government for help.
The clips that I have watched of the coverage of Puerto Rico have been well chosen to prove a point. Puerto Rico had the eye of an extremely powerful hurricane go all the way across it. The destruction is immense. People need help and it is extremely difficult to get it to them because the roads are impassable, there is very limited electricity and communication is a huge problem.
So it is easy for reporters to go out and find a family, a village or town that hasn’t been helped. It’s like going out in a blizzard and filming the roads that haven’t been plowed instead of the ones that have.
In any major disaster, it’s not hard to find people who need help, but it doesn’t mean that the people providing the help – in this case the federal government – aren’t doing the best job they can. It means the job isn’t going to get done in a day.
I also watched videos of the earthquake in Mexico and the people I saw on those news videos were not standing around complaining about the lack of government help; they were trying to rescue people.
No doubt if the news reporters had tried, they could have found a group that wasn’t helping but was standing around complaining about the inefficient and bureaucratic government that had not provided them with the help they needed.
The point is that the story you see is the story the reporters want you to see. One of the best and worst ways to report the news is with on-the-spot videos because you only see what the network wants you to see.
The networks all hate Trump, and they were successful in portraying Puerto Rico as a disaster, where help wasn’t getting to everyone who needed it when they wanted it, and there is no doubt that is absolutely true.
Puerto Rico presents unique problems for disaster relief, unlike Texas or Florida. In Texas and Florida, a massive number of trucks can be sent down with supplies and equipment almost immediately.
You couldn’t do that in Puerto Rico, and you couldn’t stockpile the supplies and equipment ahead of time because they could have all been destroyed by the hurricane. So the supplies had to brought in by ship or air. When the ports are destroyed, that means it has to be brought in by air; and with airports in bad shape that means helicopters, which can land practically anywhere. But a helicopter can’t compete with a fleet of trucks or even with a huge transport plane.
It was a logistical nightmare and, from the reports I’ve read, FEMA was doing the best it could, but without heavy equipment it takes a lot longer to clear debris and repair ports that had to be repaired so heavy equipment could be brought in. I don’t envy the people who were trying to figure it all out. No doubt they made some decisions that could have been better, but who doesn’t do that. It’s easy to second-guess the workers on the ground.
More ships and helicopters could have been provided quicker, but this was the third hurricane in a matter of weeks to hit the US. It seems reasonable that the supply lines were stretched to the limit.
And of course it doesn’t help the people to have a huge stockpile of supplies flown in to an airport if the roads are impassable and there is no way to get those supplies to the people who need them.