Tax Cuts, FCC turns off switch to Net Neutrality and So Much Moore! –The Fourth 100 Days (Trump Briefs:  Dec. 9-15/Day 331-337) Week 47

By Michael Hernandez

Saturday, December 9  (Day 331):

President Trump holds Pensacola rally

“Let me begin by wishing each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas; right? said President Donald Trump at the Make America Great Again rally at the 12,000 seat venue in Pensacola on Friday night, his fourth such rally in two years.  “And I can think of no better Christmas present for the American people than giving you a massive tax cut – that’s what’s happening.  I can’t wait to sign that tax cut – great for so many. But great for the middle class – and we are going to put it into law.”

 “Since the election – we’ve created 2.2 million new jobs, factories are coming back to our country,” Trump said. “You know, we have factories pouring back into our country. Did you ever think you would hear that? I used to tell you, that’s going to happen. You see, now there’s consequences when companies close up their factories, move to another country, make a product and sell it right through – they have consequences now. In November alone – we added 228,000 jobs.  Including another 33,000 new jobs in manufacturing.

“My administration is also leading the charge to rebuild our military,” he said. “Our military, right? We’re supporting our troops and their wonderful military families, including those right here in the cradle of Naval aviation, the home of the legendary Blue Angels, people don’t realize that. By the way, can those people fly or what? How about Naval Air Station Pensacola?

“And don’t forget, we make the greatest missiles, the greatest military equipment anywhere in the world. Nobody is close.  We are building our military stronger…you’re going to have the strongest military this country has ever had by far.”

“The greatest adventure still lies ahead,” he explained. “Never give in, never give up, never back down, and never ever stop dreaming. Because we are Americans and the future belongs to us. The future belongs to all of you. So with American pride swelling in our hearts and American courage stirring in our souls, I say these words tonight, together we will, indeed, make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America safe again. And put it all together and what do we have? We will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you, everybody.”

President Trump blasts sanctuary cities

President Trump used his weekly radio address on Saturday to blast so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to share information about undocumented immigrants in custody with federal authorities.

“Last week, in a final injustice, Kate’s (Steinle) killer was acquitted on all of the most serious charges,” Trump said. “Yet one more reason Americans are so upset by sanctuary cities and open border politicians who shield criminal aliens from federal law enforcement and all of the problems involved with the whole concept of a sanctuary city.  They’re no good,” he added.

Kate Steinle, was shot to death on the San Francisco pier in 2015 by an illegal immigrant.

Trump went on to rip congressional Democrats for demanding a fix for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children as part of a year-end deal to fund the government, a provision that Trump called “amnesty” in the video.

“Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress not only oppose our efforts to stop illegal immigration and crack down on Sanctuary Cities – now they are demanding amnesty as a condition for funding the government, holding troop funding hostage and putting our national security at risk,” Trump said. “We cannot allow it.”

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was an Obama-era policy that shielded from deportation undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Trump announced in September that he would rescind the program.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has taken a hard stance on DACA protections in recent days, vowing that Congress would not leave Washington, D.C., until recipients of the program were protected by congressional action. “We will not leave here without a DACA fix,” Pelosi said. 

President Trump delivers remarks at opening of Civil Rights Museum

“We want our country to be a place where every child from every background can grow up free from fear, innocent of hatred and surrounded by love, opportunity and hope,” Trump said in prepared remarks at the Saturday opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, where Medgar Evers, the civil rights activist was murdered outside his home in 1963.

Referring to Evers and other civil rights leaders showcased in the museum, Trump said: “Today we strive to be worthy of their sacrifice. We pray for inspiration from their example.”

Trump acknowledged Evers’ wife Myrlie and brother Charles in the audience and concluded his remarks by saying: “Today we pay solemn tribute to our heroes of the past and dedicate ourselves to building a future of freedom, equality justice and peace.”

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who is black and ran against Trump in the early 2016 Republican presidential primaries before dropping out, accompanied the president on his tour of the museum.

 

Sunday, December 10 (Day 332):

President Trump blasts fake photograph and news reporting

President Trump blasted the left-wing Washington Post’s Dave Weigel after the reporter taunted him with a fake photograph that falsely depicted a mostly empty auditorium at the president’s Friday night rally. After receiving an apology, the president said Weigel “should be fired  and tweeted “FAKE NEWS.”

A list of recent inaccurate news reports would include not only Weigel but  Maggie Haberman, Brian Ross, Alisyn Camerota; and reporters at CNN, the Washington Post, Reuters, and PolitiFact.

President Donald Trump again criticized CNN after they published a false story about his son Donald Trump Jr. and Wikileaks, suggesting on Twitter that the network change their slogan:  “CNN’S slogan is CNN, THE MOST TRUSTED NAME IN NEWS,” he wrote. “Everyone knows this is not true, that this could, in fact, be a fraud on the American Public. There are many outlets that are far more trusted than Fake News CNN. Their slogan should be CNN, THE LEAST TRUSTED NAME IN NEWS!”

CNN reported that Donald Trump Jr. received an email from Wikileaks offering a web address and decryption key that would allow them to access Clinton campaign emails from WikiLeaks before the documents were publicly available.

The Washington Post exposed the truth, noting that the email was dated AFTER the documents were publicly available — completely killing CNN’s narrative.

In response, CNN corrected the story but said they would not discipline their reporters who published the story based on faulty information and would not expose their sources.

CNN’s story was the third story in one week by the establishment media that had to be significantly corrected after publication. Trump called CNN’s story “vicious and purposeful” and stated that they were “caught red-handed.”

“Fake News CNN made a vicious and purposeful mistake yesterday. They were caught red-handed, just like lonely Brian Ross at ABC News (who should be immediately fired for his ‘mistake’),” he wrote. “Watch to see if @CNN fires those responsible, or was it just gross incompetence?”

Julian Assange

CNN walked back an “exclusive” story Friday in which it initially reported on an email it claimed indicated that WikiLeaks may have reached out to then-candidate Donald Trump’s team to offer hacked Wikileaks documents.

 The initial story, by Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb and titled, “Exclusive: Email shows effort to give Trump campaign WikiLeaks documents,” reported that Trump’s team was sent an email on September 4, 2016 offering a website and decryption key to the team. CNN’s report noted that it had not seen the email but that it was “described” to them by multiple sources.

According to that description, it was sent from someone called “Mike Erickson” and was addressed to Trump, Trump Jr., and Trump Jr.’s personal assistant.

CNN issued a correction at the top of the story late Friday. “Correction: This story has been corrected to say the date of the email was September 14, 2016, not September 4, 2016. The story also changed the headline and removed a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., who posted a message about WikiLeaks on September 4, 2016.”

CNN’s correction comes a week after ABC was forced to walk back a report that initially claimed that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that President Trump told him to reach out to the Russian officials as a candidate. Markets tumbled before the outlet clarified that this was actually when Trump was president-elect.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, meanwhile, asked, “Who’s going to be fired?”

California Border Wall rally disrupted by protesters

Clashes broke out at a rally held Saturday supporting President Donald Trump’s border wall in Otay Mesa, California, as counter protesters taunted them and chanted for amnesty for illegal aliens.

According to the local CBS affiliate: The rumble ensued when a small group of counter-protestors started a chant from the rear of the gathering, apparently yelling “Racists go home!”

A group of wall supporters equal in size carrying flags moved in quickly and engaged in a shouting match with the other side as deputies and police stood by. What began as face-to-face shouting and chest bumping escalated, and seconds after the first shove by a counter-protester the first punch was thrown by a wall supporter.

There were no injuries and no arrests. Videos circulated on social media depicting the clashes. Some activists supporting the wall drove from as far away as Arizona to attend:  Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) was on hand to support the border wall activists. “Angel Moms,” who have lost relatives to homicides by illegal aliens, also spoke at the rally.

The border wall is a “xenophobic act, reminiscent of Nazi Germany,” said Rafael Bautista, 33, of southeast San Diego. Bautista, who helped organize the protest but isn’t affiliated with a single group, said he migrated to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 4 and has family on both sides of the border.  “They want to put up walls between two shades of color,” he said. “This is exactly the opposite of what we want in this country.”

Groups sponsoring the rally included “San Diegans for Secure Borders, Unite America First, Frontline America, San Diego Patriots, Latinos for Trump, Make America Great PAC and other pro-border wall groups,” according to the local CBS affiliate.

Monday, December 11 (Day 333):

Governor Brown equates climate change to God; critiques Trump

California Governor Jerry Brown used the Bible to tell CBS News’ 60 Minutes that President Donald Trump does not fear God because he does not believe in climate change.

“I don’t think President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility. And this is such a reckless disregard for the truth and for the existential consequences that can be unleashed,” Brown told CBS’ Bill Whitaker.

Brown told religious leaders that the world needed a “total … brain washing” on climate change. He asked them to use their religious influence to spread belief in climate change.

The governor has frequently tried to enlist religion in his push for tougher climate change policies. It was the same explanation Barack Obama gave in 2008 to liberal donors at a San Francisco fundraiser, in trying to explain the behavior of Pennsylvania voters drawn to his opponent: “[T]hey get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Fox News:  Senior Justice Department official wife paid by Fusion GPS

Fusion GPS, the firm behind the Trump dossier, paid the wife of a senior Justice Department official during the 2016 election, a Fox News report revealed on Monday. The senior Justice Department official is Bruce Ohr, who was demoted last week, just before Fox News reported that he had met with dossier author Christopher Steele during the campaign, and with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson after the election.  He was demoted for not disclosing those meetings to the Justice Department, according to Fox News.

Until last week, Ohr was both associate deputy attorney general (working closely with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein) and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Ohr was removed from his first title just a day before Fox News reported on his meetings with Fusion GPS.

Ohr’s wife, Nellie H., was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016, the House intelligence committee confirmed to Fox News. Although it is not exactly clear what she did for Fusion GPS, a review of her published works show that she has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. Ohr worked as a Russia expert at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, a decade ago. An open-source review of her work shows she has also reviewed a number of books about Russia.

Steele, a former British spy and longtime FBI informant, is said to have known Ohr for a decade, and an “initial investigation” suggested that Steele might have introduced Ohr to Fusion GPS’s Simpson.

House investigators are trying to figure out whether the Obama Justice Department used the dossier to launch an investigation on the Trump campaign, obtain a warrant to spy on one of its members, and perhaps pay for or help produce the dossier.

Steele provided the dossier to the FBI in July 2016, the same month that the FBI began a counterintelligence probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The dossier was also shopped around to journalists before the election, but was not published, due to news outlets’ inability to verify its salacious claims, which included that Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia during the campaign. After being published by Buzzfeed, it has been used by President Trump’s political enemies to discredit his election.

 

Tuesday, December 12 (Day 334):

New York police officers risk lives to subdue jihadist

Four Port Authority police officers ran towards the explosion triggered by Monday’s failed terrorist attack in Port Authority Bus Terminal, risking their lives and subduing the jihadist responsible.

Officers Drew Preston, Jack Collins, Sean Gallagher, and Anthony Manfredini successfully subdued terror suspect Akayed Ullah as he tried to detonate a “low-tech explosive device” in a subway corridor near the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Monday morning.

Robert Egbert, a spokesperson for the Port Authority, said the officers reacted immediately after seeing Ullah lying on the ground with numerous wires attached to his body and successfully grappled to stop him from detonating any of his devices.

“The officers’ concern now was the safety of those civilians still in the passageway,” Egbert said. “Without concern for their own safety, the officers were able to secure the suspect and evacuate those still in the passageway.”

Authorities confirmed that no civilians were severely injured in the attacks, although three people were treated for headaches and ringing in their ears, while Ullah was hospitalized in serious condition with burns. “Thanks to the quick response of these brave Port Authority Police officers, the suspect was apprehended, there were no serious injuries and the PABT was secured without further incident,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said in a statement. “Our officers responded immediately and put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public.”

Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant who had been living in Brooklyn, arrived in the United States on an F43 family immigrant visa in 2011 as part of an extended family chain migration process. According to federal investigators, Ullah was angered by President Donald Trump and U.S. policy in the Middle East and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State. Ullah now faces a string of federal charges against him that include the provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, use of weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, destruction of property by means of fire or explosive, and use of a destructive device.

 

Wednesday, December 13 (Day 335):

Alabama Senate race: Doug Jones beats Roy Moore—no concession;

GOP elite applauds vote

Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore refused to concede the race to Democrat Doug Jones despite preliminary results that show Jones leading by more than 21,000 votes. 

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says the 1.5 percent margin maintained by Jones is likely wide enough to ensure victory even as votes remain to be counted.

“Realize when the vote is this close, it’s not over,”  Moore told supporters in a post-election speech.  “And we still got to go by the rules about this recount provision…It’s not over and it’s going to take some time.”

Each of Alabama’s 67 counties will begin to process all of the remaining write-in votes and provisional and military ballots from overseas.  Counties must report those votes to the Secretary of State’s office by Dec. 22.  Between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3 all votes will go through a certification process.

Only after the certification process will a recount be possible.  At that point if the margin of victory is less than .5 percent, an automatic recount provision will begin which the state government pays.  If the margin of victory is greater than .5 percent, either one of the candidates or anyone with standing in Alabama can request a recount, which they would have to fund themselves.

Although Moore has not called for a recount, he has suggested that it remains a viable option.  He would not be able to do so until after certification in early January.

Election political news analysts are asking what happened to 600,000 GOP votes that existed during the 2016 presidential election and the last senatorial election in Alabama.  Some are questioning the amount of votes recorded in urban areas as being more than on the list of registered voters. Jones received almost unanimous support from African Americans in Alabama and won the large urban areas.

A challenge to the Alabama voting process was thrown out the day before the election by the Alabama State Supreme Court.  Priscilla Duncan, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case said voting machines could be compromised, “whether intentionally or through error,” indicating tests around the country have demonstrated sizable discrepancies.

“There’s no legitimate reason not to preserve ballot images,” said Christopher Sautter, a Washington election lawyer who helped the plaintiffs in the case. “It’s neither expensive nor inconvenient. It amounts to flipping a switch.”

While some have noted Alabama officials could just count the original paper ballots in the event of a recount or court challenge, Alabama law does not provide for manual recounts – only a machine recount of the digital images that are taken at the time each ballot is cast.

“People think that when they mark the ballots and they go into the machine that that’s what counted,” Duncan noted. “But it’s not, the paper ballot is not what’s counted. That ballot is scanned and they destroy [the ballots] after the election … If there’s ever an election challenge you need to have what was actually counted.”

Tuesday’s special election, held to replace Jeff Sessions who vacated his Senate seat to become Attorney General, was one of the most scandal-plagued political contests in recent memory.   Moore spent much of the campaign’s final weeks fighting off several accusations of sexual misconduct with teenagers when he was in his 30s (40 years ago).

Jeb Bush’s former presidential campaign adviser Tim Miller’s coordination with The Washington Post led to allegations against Moore of sexual predation and impropriety.

If election night results are confirmed, Jones, a former prosecutor, will be the first Democrat to hold an Alabama Senate seat since 1992 and the GOP will only control 51 seats in the Senate.

Several establishment Republicans cheered as the Alabama Senate Republican candidate Judge Roy Moore lost to his Democratic opponent Doug Jones. National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Cory Gardner (R-CO) said in a statement, “Tonight’s results are clear – the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate.”

CNN conservative contributor Ana Navarro tweeted on Tuesday night, “Roy Moore lost. Steve Bannon lost. Donald Trump lost. Pedophilia lost. Bigotry lost. Homophobia lost. Racism lost. Doug Jones won. Mitch McConnell won. African-Americans won. Women won. Victims won. Justice won. Morality won. Values won. Sanity won. Decency won. America won.”

The Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund cheered Moore’s loss in a statement, saying, “This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running. Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco.”

The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF)  led by Steven Law, McConnell’s former chief of staff spent millions of dollars supporting Sen. Luther Strange’s (R-AL) failed primary campaign against Roy Moore.

President Donald Trump congratulated Democrat Senate candidate Doug Jones after he defeated Republican Roy Moore in the special election in the state of Alabama.  “Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win.  The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time,” he said. “It never ends!”

Judge Roy Moore

FBI agents texted about protecting country against Trump

Two FBI agents who were assigned to the special counsel on Russia, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, texted each other during the 2016 campaign about protecting America against Trump.

Strzok also led the FBI’s Clinon email investigation and was instrumental in watering down language that might have brought criminal charges for Hillary Clinton.  Strzok referred on how to thwart Trump’s election during a meeting in FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s office in August 2016.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote to Page.   “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

Page had texted Strzok:   “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”

Strzok replied:   “I can protect our country a many levels.”  In March 2016, Strzok texted, “God, Hillary should win 100,000,000-0.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) called the messages “deeply troubling” at the beginning of the House Judiciary Committee hearing.   “Reports on he political predisposition and potential bias of certain career agents and department lawyers on Special Counsel Mueller’s team are deeply troubling to all citizens who expect a system of blind and equal justice.

“These text messages prove what we all suspected—high ranking FBI officials involved in the Clinton investigation were personally invested in he outcome of the election and clearly let their strong political opinions cloud their professional judgment.”

The pair also texted each other reactions to news developments as the campaign unfolded, calling Trump an “idiot” as early as mid-2015.

Page also suggested shortly after the election that Trump might be brought down by scandal.  

Goodlatte implored Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to launch a special counsel investigation to look into the Department of Justice handling of the Clinton investigation.

“This taint of politicization should concern all Americans who have pride in the fairness or our nation’s justice system.”

 

Thursday, December 14 (Day 336):

Kentucky rep commits suicide; widow will run for his office

The widow of Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson, who killed himself on Wednesday amid accusations of sexual assault, announced that she would purse her husband’s seat, saying “his fight will go on.”

Dan Johnson, pastor of Heart of Fire church in Louisville, committed suicide on a bridge in Mt. Washington.  However, his widow, Rebecca, said she was running for his position because “these high-tech lynchings based on lies and half-truths can’t be allowed to win the day.”

Johnson was elected to the State Legislature in 20-16 as part of the wave of Republican victories that gave the GOP control of the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Johnson had sponsored a number of bills involving religious liberty and teaching the Bible in public schools.

FCC repeals Obama-era internet rules on net neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules with a 3-2 vote saying it would preserve a “free and open” internet.

“It is time for the Internet,  once again, to be driven by engineers and entrepreneurs and consumers rather than lawyers, accountants and bureaucrats,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in remarks before the vote.

A longtime opponent of the regulations, Pai has signaled plans to undo the rules since taking over as chairman of the FCC this year.

GDP rises to 3.3 percent

The nation’s gross domestic product is now growing at 3.3 percent up from 2.9 percent due to better than expected retail sales and news about consumer prices.  A survey taken at the start of the quarter revealed that economists expected just 2.5 percent growth in the fourth quarter.

Former Planned Parenthood VP to replace Minnesota Senator Al Franken

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) announced he will appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith – a former Planned Parenthood vice president – to replace Sen. Al Franken who has resigned over sexual misconduct allegations.

After founding a marketing and public relations firm in the state, Smith worked for political campaigns in Minnesota, including that of Walter Mondale for the U.S. Senate in 2002. In 2003, she was invited to become vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, a post she held until 2006. While at Planned Parenthood, Dayton’s office states she “expanded education and outreach efforts to increase women’s access to healthcare.”

Minnesota resident Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, says her organization views Smith’s appointment as a sign of Democrats’ continued full embrace of abortion in their political platform.

“As a successor to Al Franken, who preyed on women, it only makes sense that his replacement would be someone who used to make money preying on vulnerable women for Planned Parenthood,” she said in a statement. “Students for Life of America strongly opposes the selection of Tina Smith. Planned Parenthood continues to oppose even common-sense legislation, such as requiring health standards for abortion facilities, protecting minors, and prohibiting abortions based on race and gender.”

According to Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report released in May, despite the low abortion rate in the U.S., the number of abortions at the organization’s clinics has actually increased.

 

Friday, Dec. 15 (Day 337):

Final Republican Tax Code bill unveiled; prior to Congressional vote

Republicans unveiled the final text of their bill to rewrite the tax code, which they are racing to send to President Trump’s desk before Christmas. Like the bills that came before it, the legislation produced by the House-Senate conference committee would result in massive changes to the tax system, cutting rates for many individuals and businesses while placing new limitations on tax breaks. (Read the bill here.)

“I’m very excited about this moment. It’s been 31 years in the making and took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make this day happen. I’m proud of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The measure appears on track for passage next week, after gaining momentum from Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who both announced their support.

The House will vote on the bill first, on Tuesday, and then the Senate will vote. 

Under the final bill, the top individual rate would be lowered from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, which is lower than the top rate in the original bills passed by the House and Senate. The corporate tax rate would be cut from 35 percent to 21 percent, up from 20 percent in the original bills. 

The measure has seven individual tax brackets, and like both the House and Senate bills, substantially increases the standard deduction.

It also increases the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, as the Senate bill did and increases the maximum amount that is refundable to $1,400, up from $1,100 in the original Senate measure. The latter change was made to secure Rubio’s vote.

The legislation preserves the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving, though it lowers the cap on the mortgage deduction from $1 million to $750,000. 

Seeking to win over House Republicans from high-tax states, the conference committee legislation caps the state and local tax deduction at $10,000, with filers allowed to deduct property taxes and state and local income and sales taxes. 

Several popular tax preferences that were eliminated in the House bill are preserved. They include the deduction for medical expenses, the deduction for student-loan interest, the exclusion for graduate students’ tuition waivers and the ability to issue tax-exempt private-activity bonds.

The bill does not repeal the estate tax or the alternative minimum tax for individuals, both long-time goals for Republicans, but it does increase the exemption amounts. The corporate alternative minimum tax, which was retained in the Senate bill, is eliminated, a change that caters to the business community.

The final bill provides tax relief to pass-through businesses — entities such as small businesses whose income is taxed through the individual code — through a 20-percent deduction. 

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the conference committee, said the structure of the final bill hews closer to the Senate’s version because of the pass-through provisions. The Senate’s policies were “viewed as simpler,” Portman said. 

The measure also moves the U.S. to a territorial tax system that generally does not subject American companies’ foreign earnings to U.S. taxes. Companies’ current offshore earnings would be taxed at rates of 15.5 percent for liquid assets and 8 percent for illiquid assets, which are higher rates than in both the House and Senate bills.

Like the Senate bill, the legislation repeals ObamaCare’s individual insurance mandate starting in 2019 and allows for drilling in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 

Republicans are advancing the measure through a process called reconciliation that prevents a filibuster from Democrats in the Senate. Under reconciliation, bills can’t add to the deficit after 10 years, so the bill’s tax cuts for individuals expire after eight years. The corporate tax changes and individual mandate repeal are permanent.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the bill will lower federal revenue by $1.456 trillion over 10 years — a key finding, as the bill cannot add more than $1.5 trillion in debt and qualify for special Senate rules.

Most analysts doubt that the economic growth from the bill will offset the revenue losses, but GOP lawmakers and the White House disagree. They say the changes to the tax code will unleash business investment.

The House and the Senate are expected to approve the bill next week and send it to Trump, delivering him his first major legislative victory.

Republicans have long wanted to rewrite the tax code, arguing that doing so would boost economic growth and lead to more job creation. 

 

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.  Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email: [email protected]

Mr. Hernandez is dedicating himself to advance the 13 spheres –as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.


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