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“An alternative tax universe not previously known to science” –> That’s how USC legal scholar Edward Kleinbard describes Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) explanation for writing the “Corker kickback” — the measure inserted into the tax bill at the last minute that will personally enrich Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and others with extensive real estate holdings. Josh Keefe has more at The International Business Times.
Dylan Matthews reports for Vox that the bill has become even more regressive as they worked out the final touches, with 83 percent of the gains now going to the top 1 percent of US households.
At The Intercept, David Dayen notes that CEOs “are already beginning the process of pocketing the winnings from the tax bill jackpot they expect to hit any day now, undercutting, in a remarkably public fashion, the pretense that the corporate tax cut will lead to greater investment in job creation.”
And Edwin Rios reports for Mother Jones that a new report finds that the hastily written bull is riddled with errors that “could create opportunities for wealthy taxpayers to exploit loopholes and game the US tax system — and add on to the growing deficit.”
“Nonsense” –> A key talking point in the fight to kill net neutrality rules — one that was often repeated by Federal Communications Commission Chair (FCC) Ajit Pai — is that the Obama administration intervened in the regulatory process, but Jason Koebler reports for Motherboard that internal documents obtained through a FOIA request “show that the independent, nonpartisan FCC Office of Inspector General — acting on orders from congressional Republicans — investigated the claim… and found it was nonsense.” Koebler adds that the “findings were not made public prior to [last] Thursday’s vote.”
When Big Brother is your boss –> Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman report for The New York Times that a number or Environmental Protection Agency employees who spoke out about Trump or EPA chief Scott Pruitt were then investigated by a private firm affiliated with a right-wing PAC. The firm requested all of their email communications, and “the sequence of events has created a wave of fear among employees,” according to the report.
Backlash politics –> Dave Zirin, The Nation’s sports reporter, offers a roundup of this year in sports activism: “Following an old script, right-wing racist minions spent this year trying to make athlete activists pay a price for being conscious.”
WannaCry –> “The [British] Foreign Office has joined the US in publicly blaming North Korea for launching the WannaCry cyber attack” reports Justin McCurry for The Guardian. “The regime was ‘directly responsible’ for the WannaCry attack that crippled hospitals, banks and other infrastructure in May,” according to the White House.
Buyer’s remorse? –> A day after Donald Trump laid out his go-it-alone, “America First” foreign policy doctrine, “the Kremlin dismissed” it as “imperialist.” The paper, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, showed “an unwillingness to give up the idea of a unipolar world, moreover, an insistent unwillingness, disregard for a multipolar world.” Reuters has more details.
Meanwhile, NBC News reports that “in the weeks after he became the Republican nominee on July 19, 2016, Donald Trump was warned that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign.” Hillary Clinton was given a similar briefing, according to the report.
White House lawyers are meeting this week with special counsel Robert Mueller, who they hope will inform them that his investigation is coming to an end soon. But Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig report for The Washington Post that the probe could continue for another year, and “such assurances are unlikely.” That means “the meeting could trigger a new, more contentious phase between the special counsel and a frustrated president.”
“A secret wartime project” –> Propublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten reports that “the explosive compound RDX helped make America a superpower” when it was invented during World War II, but “now, it’s poisoning the nation’s water and soil.”
Jobs president –> Justin Miller reports for The American Prospect that “while all eyes were on the tax bill, Trump’s new labor board quickly and quietly undid a number of Obama’s pro-worker reforms.”
Do-over? –> Edward Isaac-Dovere reports for Politico that “at least four senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider resigning, including two who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago and said they now feel remorse over what they feel was a rush to judgment.”
Divisive –> At The Washington Post, Michael Cavna looks at how Star Wars: The Last Jedi became “the most divisive” entry in the Star Wars series. Warning: There be spoilers.
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.