What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Taxpayers Are Covering Trump’s Private Legal Costs; Two More Women Accuse Moore of Inappropriate Behavior

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

Taxpayers Are Covering Trump's Private Legal Costs

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Bait-and-switch –> We mentioned that the House Republican tax bill would trigger deep, automatic cuts to Medicare if it became law. That may be the tip of the iceberg, according to Alan Rappeport at The New York Times. He writes that while “Republican lawmakers have largely dismissed concerns about how their $1.5 trillion tax cut will add to the federal deficit,” Democrats “are warning the tax rewrite will ultimately be financed by gutting entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.”

Writing at The Washington Post, Helaine Olen points out that this would violate one of Trump’s most important and oft-repeated promises — to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — from the 2016 campaign.

Only one-fifth of 1 percent of American estates are large enough to pay estate taxes, but as many as 25 percent of the lawmakers drafting the House and Senate tax bills would personally benefit from the GOP’s proposals to scale back or eliminate the levy, according to an analysis by Ben Weider at McClatchy.

Dylan Matthews and Tara Golshan report for Vox that both the House and Senate bills pay for their high-end cuts by slashing spending on health care and shifting some of the remaining tax burden from companies to families. In part, that would result from switching to “a slower-growing inflation measure (known as chained CPI) than the one used currently. That amounts to an across-the-board tax increase for individuals, one that grows larger and larger over time. And those changes enable the bill to pay for a permanent cut in the corporate tax rate, from 35 to 20 percent.”

It should come as no surprise that this approach isn’t going over well with the public.

In the Senate, Republicans are trying to pass their tax cuts and ACA repeal bill using a process known as “reconciliation,” which can’t be filibustered but also can’t be used to pass any measure that increases the deficit beyond the 10-year budget window. At New York magazine, Jonathan Chait explains how “the latest version of the Republican tax-cut plan engages in clever gimmicks to avoid the rule.”

More women come forward –> Two more women have accused Roy Moore of inappropriate behavior toward them when they were teens. Gena Richardson, who describes her younger self as a “naive” preacher’s daughter, recalls Moore calling her school and having her fetched from her trigonometry class to ask her out. Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites have more on that unpleasant story at The Washington Post.

On Tuesday, Roy Moore’s attorney sent a letter, which Zack Ford at ThinkProgress says was “full of both factual and grammatical errors,” threatening a lawsuit against a media outlet for publishing the claims against his client. Ford writes that while the lawsuit would surely fail, “it’s not just a distraction; it’s a scare tactic.”

Rick Hasen writes at The Election Law Blog that Republicans seem to believe that they’re entitled to Alabama’s two Senate seats and are floating various schemes to keep the special election from going forward next month. But Hasen, a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine, argues that they would likely run afoul of the 17th Amendment.

And Adele Stan writes at The American Prospect that Moore has shined a light on the religious right’s “moral bankruptcy.” And the fact that the movement’s leaders have continued to support him shows that their enterprise is more political than it is spiritual.

Sanctuary –> On Wednesday, a federal judge “blocked the federal government’s attempt to withhold law-enforcement money from Philadelphia over its so-called ‘sanctuary city’ status,” report Jeff Gammage and Aubrey Whelan for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Endless campaign –> Donald Trump created a lot of speculation when he promised that he was going to deliver a “major statement” after his return from Asia on Wednesday, but David Graham writes at The Atlantic that “it quickly became apparent that there was no big announcement. Instead, the speech was more like a narration of what Trump did on his fall vacation, missing only a slideshow to go along with it.”

Wikileaks and partisanship –> Among the private messages Wikileaks exchanged with Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign was one mentioning a new website that would detail the Trump team’s connections to Russia, PutinTrump.org. PutinTrump.org’s editor-in-chief, Bill Buzenberg, writes at Mother Jones that shortly afterward, his staff faced “a wave of online harassment, email bombs, and personal threats” from the “alt-right” that caused them to fear for their safety. Need a refresher on Wikileaks role in the election? The BillMoyers.com Trump-Russia timeline has it.

Somewhat related? –> At New York magazine, Olivia Nuzzi takes us behind the scenes at Steven Bannon’s “Breitbart Embassy” in Washington, DC, where the “alt-right” leader wines and dines elites even as he “plots his populist takeover.”

Sport hunting?” –> “The Trump administration plans to allow hunters to import trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the United States, reversing a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014,” reports Stephanie Ebbs for ABC News. Those elephants are an endangered species. Trump’s sons have been pictured posing with their dead trophies on African hunting safaris.

Dispatch from the swamp –> “Senate Republicans voted on Wednesday to confirm the former leader of a coal company with a record of serious safety violations to become the country’s top regulator of miner health and safety,” reports Suzy Khimm for NBC News.

#Himtoo –> Hulking Hollywood action star Terry Crews has accused Adam Venit, a high-power agent, of harassing and groping him at a swanky party. Crews says he filed a police report about the incident. Venit has been suspended by his agency.

And we’ve heard women who work on Capitol Hill and in the California and Texas legislatures tell harrowing stories of abuse at the hands of lawmakers. Now, Yvonne Abraham reports for The Boston Globe that more than a dozen women who have worked in and around the Massachusetts State House “described a climate of harassment and sexual misconduct, perpetrated by some of the men who hold a disproportionate share of power in the Commonwealth and who shape its future.”

Your tax dollars at work –> Nick Penzenstadler reports for USA Today that “taxpayers are footing the legal bill for at least 10 Justice Department lawyers and paralegals to work on lawsuits related to President Trump’s private businesses.”

And in an interview with Politico’s Michael Grunwald, recently newly resigned IRS chief John Koskinen said the agency is building a safe to house Trump’s tax returns. There’s more interesting stuff in their discussion.

Just in time –> “A potentially habitable world, termed Ross 128 b, has been discovered just 11 light years away,” according to The Guardian’s Stuart Clark. “Ross 128 b is 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun, hence its year lasts just 9.9 days. Yet, it is not burnt to a crisp because the star is a red dwarf, which is fainter than the sun.”

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



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