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Daily Reads: The GOP’s Tax Bill Is a Massive Giveaway to the Rich

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

The GOP's Tax Bill Is a Massive Give-Away to the Rich

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So much for that “populism” –> According to The New York Times, the tax bill House Republicans unveiled yesterday is, as one might expect, “heavily weighted toward business,” but it also “includes several land mines that could complicate its passage, including limits on the popular mortgage interest deduction and caps on the state and local tax deduction, as well as its overall cost.”

As journalists, politicians and researchers started digging into the details, it looked more and more like Trump’s promises to help working families were really a bait-and-switch.

Anna Edgerton reports for Bloomberg that the bill “preserves the carried interest tax break — paid to private-equity managers, venture capitalists, hedge fund managers and certain real estate investors — despite President Donald Trump and GOP leaders’ promise to do away with loopholes for the wealthy.”

The Hill’s Brett Samuels notes that the bill would “allow churches to endorse political candidates, rolling back a 1950s-era law that bars such activities.” His colleague, Devin Henry, points out that it would also “end a $7,500 credit for the purchase of electric vehicles and overhaul other [renewable] energy-related provisions within the tax code.”

And Bess Levin writes at Vanity Fair that “Trump has somehow come up with a way to make the bill worse,” calling for Congress to include repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Severing all ties” –> In a move that sent shockwaves across the conservative media, “billionaire Republican donor Robert Mercer is stepping down from his hedge fund and selling his stake in Breitbart News to his daughters,” according to Rosie Gray at The Atlantic. Mercer also circulated a memo lamenting the “pain and divisiveness” that Milo Yiannopoulos creates, and said he’s severing all ties with the right-wing provocateur.

Sessions in the crosshairs? –> Attorney General Jeff Sessions said under oath that he had no knowledge of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb report for CNN that “former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page privately testified Thursday that he mentioned to Jeff Sessions he was traveling to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.”

And even though Sam Clovis — the “senior campaign adviser” with whom George Papadopoulos talked about setting up meetings with the Kremlin — currently serves as the White House’s senior adviser to the Department of Agriculture, “the White House first learned” that he “met with the grand jury hearing the case presented by the special counsel… from media reports,” according to ABC’s John Santucci and James Meek. Clovis wrote President Trump on Thursday asking his name be withdrawn from consideration. (Environmental and public health groups were happy to hear it, because Clovis is also not a scientist, and is a climate denier). Clovis will, however, keep advising the USDA.

Meanwhile, “America First Policies, the pro-Trump non-profit that [Paul Manafort associate] Rick Gates helped found, recently received a formal request from the office of the special counsel to retain its records for possible production to that office,” reports Fox News.

#ThemToo, too –> “As reports flow almost daily of harassment or worse by men in entertainment, business and the media, one current and three former female lawmakers tell the Associated Press that they, too, have been harassed or subjected to hostile sexual comments — by fellow members of Congress.” Erica Werner and Juliet Linderman have more on that story.

And Katha Pollitt writes at The Nation that with Trump in the White House, it’s hard to believe that we’ve reached a point where sexual harassers will really be held accountable. And yet, “for the moment, it really does feel like something is changing in the culture, and not just in the United States.”

Whose side are they on? –> Emma Eisenberg reports for Splinter that now that the public’s attention has moved on from Charlottesville, local police are arresting more counter-protesters than violent “alt-right” protestors for the August riots that left three people dead, and “many of their arrests are happening solely on the basis of accusations being brought by white supremacists.”

Slavery for the Lord, ordered by the court –> The ACLU of Oklahoma is suing a Christian drug rehab program called D.A.R.P. “for a number of egregious abuses, including human trafficking and labor violations,” according to a press release.  The suit “alleges the organization has been running an unpaid labor camp disguised as a rehabilitation center for the last decade.”

Last month, Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter wrote for Reveal that D.A.R.P. was one of several “rehab programs that supply cheap and captive workers to major poultry companies, such as Tyson Foods and Simmons Foods.” According to Harris and Walker, drug courts routinely sentence men to work for these “Christian” rehab programs, gutting chickens, and then pocket what the processors pay for their labor.

Ransom note –> “Trump wants Congress to improve border security and end [family-based] migration in exchange for protecting an estimated 700,000 so-called Dreamers, who entered the country illegally as children, from deportation,” reports Alexander Bolton for The Hill. Trump was also “emphatic” about keeping the issue separate from the year-end spending bill in order to avoid any possibility of a government shutdown over the Dreamers.

Fox to guard henhouse –> Trump’s pick for the top civil rights job in the Justice Department, Eric Dreiband, “has made a career of fighting discrimination claims,” according to Pema Levy at Mother Jones.

That’s one way to bust a union –> Andy Newman and John Leland report for The New York Times that just a week ago, “reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union,” but yesterday “they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down.”

Way to drain that swamp –> A USA Today investigation found that “Trump has installed at least five people who have been members of his clubs to senior roles in his administration.” Most of the jobs appear to be foreign service posts in fun countries. “Presidents often name campaign donors and close allies to administration posts, particularly prized diplomatic postings,” write Fredreka Schouten, Brad Heath and Steve Reilly, “but never in modern history has a president awarded government posts to people who pay money to his own companies.”

Headline of the day –> Axios: “Rick Perry claims fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault.”

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.



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