President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser — Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs president worth an estimated $266 million — appears to be completely clueless about what the average American family spends on a car, vacation or home improvement project.
Hours after falsely claiming that “the wealthy are not getting a tax cut” under Trump’s tax reform plan, Cohn appeared at a White House press briefing and spoke to what middle-class Americans have to look forward to. Based on the administration’s assumptions, he said, a typical family that has two children and earns $100,000 per year can expect annual tax savings of approximately $1,000.
“If we allow a family to keep another thousand dollars of their income, what does that mean?” he asked. “They can renovate their kitchen. They can buy a new car. They can take a family vacation. They can increase their lifestyle.” \
The rather tone-deaf comment came in response to a question about how Trump — who could see savings of more than $125 million per year under his own plan — can claim the proposal doesn’t benefit him personally.
People are dying in Puerto Rico while Kremlin Caligula goes golfing this weekend and tells every one he’s doing a heckuva job.
The first two storms, it appears, were only wind-ups to the presidential moment that presents itself now. The crisis in Puerto Rico figures to define President Trump’s responses to this remarkable string of powerful storms. After first seeming to blame Puerto Rico’s poor infrastructure and fiscal crises, Trump is now praising FEMA and expressing his wish that the “press would treat fairly.” But this is one where claims of “fake news” will likely be subsumed by the images and realities. Those realities include millions of American citizens in total crisis. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is warning that the lack of “clear command, control and communication” will cause the situation to “deteriorate rapidly.” The general who oversaw the federal response to Hurricane Katrina is calling the situation – yes – “like Katrina.” This is a heckuva comment, from acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke: “I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths.” Maybe she will be proven right, and Trump will be praised for taking charge. But this will require a lightly staffed administration – led by a president prone to distraction – to do a whole lot of difficult work, and fast.
The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, lashed out at acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke’s comment that the Hurricane Maria relief efforts are a “good news story,” saying, that in reality, it’s a “people are dying story.”
Speaking outside the White House on Thursday, Duke said she is “very satisfied” with efforts to aid Puerto Rico in the wake of Maria, which devastated the island and has created a humanitarian crisis. Duke said, “It is really a good news story,” an assessment that prompted San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s strong rebuttal.
“Well, maybe from where she’s standing, it’s a good news story. When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story,” Cruz told CNN’s “New Day,” referring to the plight of Puerto Ricans, many of whom have received little or no aid thus far. “When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me. You know, I would ask her to come down here and visit the towns, and then make a statement like that, which frankly, it is an irresponsible statement.”
“Damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a people are dying story. This is a life-or-death story. This is a ‘there’s a truck load of stuff that cannot be taken to people story.’ This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food and water,” she continued. “It is not a good news story when people are dying, when they don’t have dialysis, when their generators aren’t working and their oxygen isn’t providing for them. Where is there good news here? … I’m really sorry, but you know when you have people out there dying, literally, scraping for food, where is the good news?”
The issue, Cruz said, has not been a lack of supplies but an inability to deal with the logistics of distributing aid on an island that is still largely without power and supplying it to Puerto Rico’s more rural areas. The mayor said San Juan had received three pallets of water — slightly more than 4,000 bottles for a population of roughly 350,000 people — as well as four pallets of food and 12 pallets of baby food and supplies.
The New York Times Op Ed page is alive with pieces questioning Trump’s fitness for office. “Private Emails, Private Jets and Mr. Trump’s Idea of Public Service”.
On Monday, it emerged that at least six current and former top White House officials, including Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his daughter Ivanka Trump; and his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, have been using private email accounts at least sporadically for government business. This is both dumb and richly paradoxical when one considers that Mr. Trump has continued to attack Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account and server as secretary of state, and has prodded his Justice Department to restart an inquiry that cleared her of criminal wrongdoing.
While the president whips up chants of “Lock her up” in red states, his daughter — one of the less credible “moderating” forces in White House history — has been tapping away on her personal email despite being an administration official. Personal emails are not illegal per se, as long as those about government business are forwarded to government accounts. Failure to do that is a potential violation of the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act, which preserve public access to government documents.
Mr. Kushner seems to have a particular problem with official record keeping, having failed to list scores of assets on his government financial disclosure, and forgotten to include meetings with Russians on his security clearance form. Given his central role in the campaign and White House, imagine how his latest lapse in transparency looks to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team, now hoovering up White House documents in their investigation of possible collusion with Russia. Mr. Kushner’s failure to disclose the personal email concerns leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who learned of it from news reports.
But wait, there’s more: Americans have been learning over the past week about Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s habit of flying private jets to official meetings, with occasional detours to luxury resorts where he owns property, or for outings with his family. Mr. Price and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, have even used private jets on what a White House aide called “a national listening tour … to learn from the heroes on the front lines” of the opioid crisis — all while pushing for a replacement of the Affordable Care Act that would drain billions from Medicaid and addiction treatment. When asked if he would, wisely, fire Mr. Price, the president said on Wednesday, “I’m looking at that very closely.” Mr. Price said on Thursday that he’d reimburse a portion of the cost.
Mr. Price — a multimillionaire orthopedic surgeon who as a congressman took actions that benefited his personal stock portfolio — isn’t the only Trump cabinet member polluting the public trough. There’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs banker who wanted a $25,000-per-hour Air Force jet to ferry him on his European honeymoon, and has been lying that a tax “reform” proposal to enrich wealthy people like him is a boon for the middle class. And there’s Scott Pruitt, industry’s best friend at the Environmental Protection Agency, who’s cost taxpayers more than $58,000 for noncommercial and military flights, and is spending nearly $25,000 to build a “secure phone booth” in his office.
Oh, this is new … Ryan Zinke: US interior secretary ‘spent $12,000 on flight‘. This is what’s known as bringing the CEO corporate culture into public service. You ever wonder why everything you buy from a big company seems really expensive? Well, this is the kind of shit you’re paying for and I can vouch that every CEO basically wears their perks like a North Korean General wears his medals. They’re status symbols of power. Bilking investors and the public out of money is what Corporate Finance profs like me call the Agency Problem.
Mr Zinke flew from Las Vegas to Montana last June on a private jet that cost taxpayers more than $12,000, according to Politico and the Washington Post.
Paul Krugman outlines “Trump’s Deadly Narcissism.”
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, a majority of Americans believe that Donald Trump is unfit to be president. That’s pretty remarkable. But you have to wonder how much higher the number would be if people really knew what’s going on.
For the trouble with Trump isn’t just what he’s doing, but what he isn’t. In his mind, it’s all about him — and while he’s stroking his fragile ego, basic functions of government are being neglected or worse.
Let’s talk about two stories that might seem separate: the deadly neglect of Puerto Rico, and the ongoing sabotage of American health care. What these stories have in common is that millions of Americans are going to suffer, and hundreds if not thousands die, because Trump and his officials are too self-centered to do their jobs.
It’s difficult to see how we can continue to function if the only people in charge of government are those least equipped ethnically, intellectually, and skill-wise to do the work that so many public servants train for and work at their entire lives all while go places in coach or cheap rental cars. It’s unlikely the Republicans will be able to get their deviant tax policy through. I certainly hope so because it’s extremely bad fiscal policy. It has nothing to do with economics or the country or anything that tax policy should be about. It’s only about pleasing their donor overlords like the Mercers and the Kochs.
My hope is that we’re at least proving Grover Norquist wrong who only wants Presidents that can sign bills to destroy the country. My other hope is that the Mueller investigation and what’s left of the GAO can get rid of all these grifters. I swear, there is no worse grifter than a CEO gone wild on other people’s money and that’s pretty much what’s in the West Wing right now. It’s no wonder that Mueller is going after these folks in the same manner they tackle an organized crime syndicate.
Speaking with host Brian Williams, the former nemesis of ex-President Bill Clinton said he is well acquainted with Mueller and that the former FBI head is a relentless investigator.
Noting reports that Vice President Mike Pence met with Mueller over the summer to offer his cooperation, host Williams asked Starr what the American public can expect next.
“Counselor, it is my understanding that you are of the belief that the president should be much more wary and on-guard and worried about these Congressional investigations than the Mueller investigation,” Williams suggested.
“No, I think he’s going to be worried about both,” Starr replied. “I think there is a tendency to ignore what Congress is doing when, famously, during the Watergate investigation so many years ago, the explosive fact of the White House tapes, came not from Archibald Cox, but from Congressional investigators during a deposition.”
Restating the fact that Pence said he was cooperating, Starr added, “The president’s lawyers are all saying that, ‘let’s get this done,’ and the way to get it over with is cooperation.”
Saying he isn’t aware of how far the investigation has advanced, Starr said that he expected a “number of indictments”
“Yes or no answer,” Williams pressed. Do you see the president being placed under oath before this is all over?”
“Yes,” the former prosecutor bluntly stated.
The frog marches out of the White House can’t come soon enough for me or the future of our country.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?