Telling us in the Rose Garden on Tuesday that he would cut taxes “tremendously” for the Middle Class, President Donald Trump seemed satisfied he had put to bed rumors that he was putting his faith in tax cuts that would benefit the rich.
Thursday Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn said he couldn’t guarantee some middle class families wouldn’t pay more in taxes under the plan. He also said Americans are so self centered they’re only worried about how much they have to pay- not how much others (i.e. the richest) pay. “How much goes in their pockets versus how much goes to the government?” Cohn said. True, but we also want to know how much we’re paying or keeping versus how much the rich get to keep.
But the most disingenuous thing Cohn said proved just how far out of touch this administration is with reality. “If we allow a family to keep another $1,000 of their income, what does that mean? They can renovate their kitchen, they can buy a new car, they can take a family vacation, they can increase their lifestyle,” Cohn assured us.
Let’s look at that realistically. You can’t renovate a kitchen with $1000, and you sure can’t buy a new car for that amount of money, go on a vacation or increase your lifestyle. You can take a family of five out to eat at a reasonably priced restaurant six or seven times more a year – or you can buy two suits at The Men’s Wearhouse. Most likely you’ll pay a few more bills while you continue to live paycheck to paycheck.
Meanwhile the richest among us stand to save millions. While Cohn continued to stress how much the plan is going to help the middle class, he also said plans to allow the repatriation of overseas assets, a corporate feature of the proposed tax code would enable companies to further stimulate the economy. “They pay the repatriation tax; we get another 20 percent tax on capital gains or dividends, and then the people that get that money back do what? They reinvest it back in the economy in new investments, in new capital. “
“If we allow a family to keep another $1,000 of their income, what does that mean? They can renovate their kitchen, they can buy a new car, they can take a family vacation, they can increase their lifestyle,” Cohn assured us.
This long held belief of supply-siders has little or no basis in reality. Those who get the massive amounts of money back usually just sock it away – helping no one but themselves.
Increasing the standard deduction for families is also cheered by the president’s men as a way to help middle-class America (whatever is left of it) – but critics argue if people take the standard deduction versus itemizing their deductions you could suppress the real-estate market by eliminating one of the incentives to buy a home – though Cohn says the plan will protect the mortgage insurance deduction. A claim that makes no sense if you take a standard deduction.
Those who believe Cohn and the president are talking out of both sides of their mouth are not limited to democrats.
It seems to be that way on many issues. The president has been riding one donkey of an issue all week long – tilting at the NFL windmill with glee and verve.
I confess I’ve been confused by the issue. The president certainly has a right to have an opinion about dissent and protest – though his opinions may be based on his needs for fealty rather than his love of free speech. But he has no right to issue an edict demanding people stand against their will. No one ever clarified that, so Thursday I asked and actually got an answer from Sarah Huckabee Sanders regarding the issue. “No,” she told the world in the press briefing room – the president is not trying to carve out an exception to free speech. That means with this entire issue the president only sought to enrage some and arouse others. The perfect divisive and disingenuous move – and a hallmark of this presidency.
Meanwhile there are real issues that have not been addressed and others that have been barely addressed. North Korea, Russia, China, Syria, Afghanistan, hurricane damage, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, failed healthcare legislation and a weird guy, Roy Moore, from Alabama nominated by the GOP for Jeff Sessions’ vacant senate seat who believes homosexuals ought to be jailed, Muslims shouldn’t serve in government and the Bible trumps the Constitution are all issues that need attention.
Homosexuality is -"abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God upon which this nation and our laws are predicated".
- Roy Moore - Alabama GOP senate nominee
Then there is the private email debacle. No, not Secretary Hillary Clinton’s private email debacle – six current and former White House staffers who apparently used their private email while conducting public business.
There is no doubt this would have sent howls trough the hallowed halls of Trump-land that would’ve made you think someone was skinning a live cat with a rusty knife had this been the democrats. But it wasn’t. So for days the administration didn’t do a thing or mention it at all.
I asked the question in the White House briefing room on Thursday and Sanders said the administration was looking into it. Shortly thereafter the administration said it was the focus of an internal investigation. Friday on the South Lawn President Trump ignored my question three times but finally acknowledged it and said he had limited awareness of the situation before waving it off with a hand gesture.
This issue again speaks to the lack of integrity not only among the members of the administration but his many apologists who screamed “Lock her up” during the presidential campaign.
Watching the president on the South Lawn, witnessing his many limited forays in public interaction at the White House – and not his self-aggrandizing rallies – you’re left with the impression of a man struggling mightily to fit into a round hole though he’s a square peg. You want to wish him well. Your natural desire is to see someone get better at doing the job.
But then you remember the twitter litter, the castigation of enemies real and imagined, the hypocrisy, the unnecessary energy wasted on issues that mean nothing and make little or no difference and you cannot help but wonder – still – if there will be anything left of the Republic standing when Trump eventually leaves office.
Friday as Marine One took off from the South Lawn a reporter started playing Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries” from Apocalypse now on his cell phone.
I was waiting for someone to say Napalm in the morning smells like victory.
Gallows humor had taken over on Friday afternoon as the White House press corps hunkered in after another rollercoaster week of madness.
I asked the first question as Trump walked up to a gaggle of reporters waiting to watch him leave the White House. In what has become “the new normal” according to a few reporters, since John Roberts from Fox News enticed Trump to talk with us when he leaves, he has now on at least three occasions stayed and engaged in an informal “gaggle” with whoever is standing out on the South Lawn when he leaves the White House.
“Are you going to fire Tom Price?” I asked him about the embattled United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price has embroiled himself in a scandal involving the use of private air travel for more than $1 million and the President said though Price was a “Fine Man,” the president remained unhappy with him.
I had unwittingly unleashed the “Kiss of Death” from Trump. Everyone in the press knows when Trump calls you a “Fine Man” it’s like Michael kissing Fredo in The Godfather II.
Sure enough less than an hour later Trump accepted and published Price’s resignation letter.
It has been a busy week at the White House.
They all are.
The question is – what comes next?