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September 30, 2015, 11:46 amHere's How Trump's Tax Plan Would Affect You
Here’s How Trump’s Tax Plan Would Affect You
Donald Trump’s tax plan was revealed with a message for millions of Americans: “You win!”
But like everything linked to taxes, not everyone would win equally under his plan, which the Republican presidential candidate says is geared toward providing tax relief for the middle class and giving the U.S. economy a boost by lowering business income taxes.
To be sure, there’s a long road ahead before the general election in November 2016, but Trump’s proposal raises evergreen questions about the country’s tax system, such as why it’s so complicated and whether struggling middle-class families should get more of a break. Trump’s plan is geared to appeal to his supporters, one-third of whom earn less than $50,000 a year -- the group that the candidate claims would benefit the most from his plan.
Yet the biggest winners under Trump’s plan would be, well, people just like Trump: America’s richest citizens. That’s because he’s proposing a big reduction in income taxes for married couples earning at least $300,000, as well as a plan to eliminate the estate tax, which only kicks in at about $10 million per couple, said Edward Zelinsky, a law professor at the Cardozo School of Law, who specializes in tax issues.
“The truth is most lower income folks don’t pay tax in our system today anyway,” Zelinsky said, who added that Trump is claiming to remove people from the tax rolls who already don’t pay much, if anything, in federal tax. “Thanks to the earned income tax credit and standard exemptions, roughly half of Americans don’t pay significant income taxes.”
Trump’s plan is “really good for high income tax payers,” he added.
One caveat: Trump’s four-page proposal is short on details. As a result, some issues are unclear, such as his assertion that many deductions would be eliminated, although his plan maintains deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest, which are two of Americans’ most popular deductions.
“This is a surprisingly vague proposal,” Zelinsky added.
Here’s how different groups would fare under his proposal:
The 1 percent. The top 1 percent of taxpayers -- the Trumps of America -- would see the biggest benefits. With an average income of $1.79 million, the top 1 percent of income earners would see their tax bill plunge by $184,268, according to Citizens for Tax Justice. They would take home one-third of the tax cut proposed by Trump, excluding the estate tax elimination.
Households in the next 4 percent. With average incomes of $323,000, these earners would see their tax bill shaved by $18,158, accounting for about 13 percent of Trump’s tax cut, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.
Upper middle income groups. Americans with average earnings of $148,100 (the 80 to 95 percent) would see savings of $7,500, or 21 percent of Trump's tax cut. Earners making an average of $84,800 (the 60 to 80 percent) would pay $4,943 less in taxes, or 18 percent of the tax cut.
The middle class and the poor. Do these groups really see a benefit, as Trump claims? Well, not so much. These groups would see a small tax benefit that pales in comparison to those that would be enjoyed by the wealthy. The middle 20 percent of American earners would see their taxes decline by $2,571, while the poorest residents would only pay $250 less in taxes – accounting for just 4 percent and 1 percent of Trump’s tax cut respectively, the CTJ noted.
Freelancers: Trump is proposing to lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent for all businesses, including mom-and-pop stores and independent contractors. Because large corporations already use complex tax strategies to lower their tax bills, small businesses and freelancers might see the biggest benefit. The downside, said Zelinsky, is that Trump’s plan incentivizes employees to strike out on their own as independent contractors. A worker earning more than $150,000 as an employee would be taxed at 25 percent, but that would be lowered to 15 percent if she went out on her own. “I’m struck by the fact that this is very unfair,” Zelinsky added.
Last Edited: September 30, 2015, 11:48 am
September 26, 2015, 1:02 amWait a minute, let me introduce myself...my name is...
Last Edited: September 26, 2015, 1:07 am
September 25, 2015, 1:16 amI don't believe in Political Correctness because I'm PLUCKING CRAZY
Last Edited: September 25, 2015, 1:22 am
September 22, 2015, 11:34 pmWhat on Earth Is Wrong With the Republican Leadership?
What on Earth Is Wrong With the Republican Leadership?
Some of that substance has just manifested itself in the form of calls, emails and letters to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), for which I am an advisory board member, having taken the place of Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL who was killed, sadly enough, in the same attack that took Ambassador Chris Stevens's life near Benghazi, Libya in 2012.
This correspondence to the MRFF left no doubt in anyone's mind who read or listened to it that many if not all of the Muslim soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the U.S. Armed Forces found the Republican candidates' pandering utterly despicable. Moreover, they found it extremely harmful in light of the fight against terrorists like ISIS/ISIL in which the military is intimately involved, operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in Africa and elsewhere, and in terms of damage to the pride and respect afforded Muslims in the ranks. In short, such remarks -- or the lack of a countering remark by one particular candidate, Donald Trump, when Muslim integrity and citizenship were questioned in his presence -- left most of these warriors questioning the Republican Party's credentials, indeed its character, for leading this country from the White House or the Congress.
That there is a well-financed campaign in America to discredit Muslims in general is shocking, to be sure, but at least historically understandable: America has always had such racial hatred, religious bigots, and otherwise mentally-impaired people. But for the highest ranks of one of the nation's principle political parties to appear publicly to condone such tactics is something quite new. Senator Joseph McCarthy might have gotten Eisenhower's attention sufficiently to shake his hand in Milwaukee when Ike was campaigning there in 1952, but that was as far as it went. Ike reviled McCarthy and everything for which he stood.
And Senator John McCain, at a campaign event in 2008, demonstrated quite superbly how such hateful remarks should be treated, swiftly and powerfully, when he answered a woman who questioned President Obama's religion and ethnicity and said: "No ma'am, no ma'am, he's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about."
Not so with some of the current crop of Republican candidates.
Donald Trump, the front-runner, failed to challenge a questioner last Friday who wanted to know when the U.S. could get rid of its Muslims. Trump also failed to rebut an assertion -- once again -- that president Obama is a Muslim.
Dr. Ben Carson seems to be trying to crawl out from under his statement that a Muslim should not be president (and the innuendo that accompanied such a remark in the minds of the Americans who still believe Obama to be a Muslim). But he is not making a great deal of progress.
Indeed, as the wolves circle around these candidates, each seems to be rethinking the extremes they have visited to create a following, to excite "the Base," and to raise their and the media's ratings. But none of them seems to have a clue as to what his remarks mean to the men and women in the military. This is particularly unconscionable for Dr. Ben Carson. He might not have been in the combat arms in the Army but he did wear the uniform and should know better.
As a Republican, I am utterly ashamed of my party. As a soldier for 31 years, I am disgusted with these "courageous" candidates, none of whom has served a day in the Infantry in their lives. As a citizen, I am deeply concerned for my country.
I can only take solace from the clear reality that none of them will ever win the White House.
Lawrence Wilkerson is a Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary. He was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the first George W. Bush administration. He served 31 years in the US Army.
Last Edited: September 22, 2015, 11:35 pm
September 20, 2015, 10:18 pmDoes the Birther question apply to Cruz Missile? It should!
The Ted Cruz Problem Is the Reason Trump Ducks -- and Must Duck -- the Obama Birther Question
Every Republican candidate should be asked if they think that Ted Cruz (R/TP-TX) is eligible to serve as President. There is no dispute that Cruz was born in Canada. Indeed, he took his congressional oath of office while still being a Canadian citizen. One has to wonder if that was a violation of his oath.
Republican candidates should not only be asked about Cruz's eligibility, but pressed for an answer. And, not only pressed for an answer on Cruz, but asked why none of them stepped forward during the birtherism campaigns. During those days, they were writing into state laws requirements for producing birth certificates, and an Israeli-born dentist claimed she had proof of Obama's foreign birth.
Why did they not step forward and state that Obama's place of birth did not matter because his mother was an American citizen? For Cruz to be eligible, that is what they have to believe. Let them say it...now.
Especially Donald Trump. Why? Because Trump's message for years was President Obama's eligibility for the White House was based upon his place of birth. Never once, at least of which I am aware, was Trump or any of the other nut jobs asked why it mattered.
After all, no one doubted who his U.S.-born mother was, and, if having at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, satisfies the "naturally born" criterion, then even the most idiotic of idiots -- e.g., Steven King (R-IA) who surmised that Obama's birth information was faxed to Hawaii (before faxes existed of course, but never mind) -- would have had to concede that the entire charade of de-legitimizing Obama's presidency had no foundation, no-way, no-how.
Moreover, on the right there was an entire cottage industry devoting itself to undermining Obama's entire persona. When birtherism seemed to be going nowhere, one group decided to question not Obama's place of birth, but who his true father was, claiming that Obama had a nose-job (I kid you not) to avoid looking like his "real" father who was a communist.
Then, it was all conflated. Obama became a Kenyan communist, named after someone who was not his biological father to plot a successful presidential run decades later, using the middle name of Hussein, so as to undermine the entire fabric of society. Before dismissing this as too absurd for anyone to say or believe, recognize that more than 50% of Republicans still believe Obama was born outside the U.S.
Trump cannot answer the Obama place-of-birth question because he would either have to lie outright, or state that Ted Cruz is ineligible to run for president.
Trump likes Cruz. He does not want to have to say that. But, he must, or admit that his entire Obama birth certificate campaign was a complete scam.
Or, as the Donald would put it, "entertainment". Entertainment at the expense of fooling millions of republicans who would likely recoil at the recognition they had been deliberately led astray.
Entertainment at the expense of undermining the honor and dignity of the presidency.
September 18, 2015, 3:13 amIt's all about Me, Myself, and I people
September 16, 2015, 1:10 amTalking B>S>
September 12, 2015, 7:56 pmTwo Michigan state lawmakers lose seats over affair cover-up
Two Michigan state lawmakers lose seats over affair cover-up
DETROIT (Reuters) - One Michigan lawmaker resigned on Friday and another was removed from office by a vote in the state House of Representatives as police launched a criminal probe into their admitted use of tax funds to cover up their extramarital affair.
The two former representatives, Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, who are both Republicans and Tea Party members, apologized during a special House committee hearing this week for using their staff members to try to cover up their affair.
Courser resigned around 3 a.m. Friday, following a whirlwind session that centered on his possible expulsion. Gamrat was removed from office by a vote of the full House about an hour later.
They had both asked to be censured, which would have allowed them to remain in office.
The two Democrats on the six-member special committee abstained from the panel's vote to expel Courser and Gamrat, contending their Republican counterparts had rushed the House investigation for political reasons.
But early Friday, Republicans had secured enough support to meet the two-thirds majority of affirmative votes in the full House required to remove a lawmaker.
Courser then tendered his resignation, effective immediately, before the Republican-led legislature could vote on his expulsion.
Democrats agreed to expel Gamrat once Republicans offered support for a resolution to have the state police investigate the matter. Republicans needed Democrats to reach the two-thirds threshold.
Michigan State Police said in a statement that it would "honor the requests made by the Legislature ... to investigate potential criminal wrongdoing by Representative Courser and Representative Gamrat." A police official declined further comment.
Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, said he supported the state police probe.
"This matter needs to be resolved and an investigation by MSP will provide further clarity," he said in a statement. "I hope this investigation helps bring closure to the issues for all involved."
Gamrat becomes just the fourth lawmaker in Michigan history to have been expelled, dating back to 1887.
Gamrat and Courser could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley said in a statement that a primary election would be held on Nov. 3 and a general election on March 8, 2016, to fill the seats.
September 9, 2015, 1:38 amMike Huckabee Thinks He Knows The Constitution Better Than The Supreme Court
Mike Huckabee Thinks He Knows The Constitution Better Than The Supreme Court
But he can't even remember his own state's dark history.
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee blasted the Supreme Court on Tuesday for allegedly going beyond its authority to interpret the Constitution and making law. His listeners were a crowd rallying in support of Kim Davis, the recalcitrant Kentucky county clerk just released from jail.
Hopefully, they didn't believe what Huckabee told them.
"We do not want this country to become the smoldering remains of what was once a great republic, where the people rule," the former Arkansas governor told the crowd. That vision of America should not be "exchanged for a place where five unelected lawyers think that they can rule," he said.
"We're here to say, 'No, they cannot,'" Huckabee declared.
He was referring to the Supreme Court's June decision finding that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry. Davis has famously -- or infamously -- opposed that ruling in her refusal to issue marriage licenses to all comers in Rowan County.
Huckabee's mention of "five unelected lawyers" was borrowed from the landmark decision itself. In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the "five lawyers" -- otherwise known as his fellow justices -- who ruled in favor of gay couples "have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law."
"Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept," Roberts wrote.
It's not clear that a more majoritarian process, such as the Kentucky state legislature passing a law, would have persuaded Davis to go along with the new legal reality. But not even the Roberts Court was willing to suggest her religious liberty arguments sounded good. Last week, the high court declined to get involved in her case and to let her disobey a federal judge's order. Defiance of that order was what ultimately landed Davis in jail for contempt of court.
Though the Supreme Court's refusal to intervene last week was issued without an explanation, it at least indicated that the justices aren't eager to advance the culture war between gay rights and religious rights that Huckabee is pushing.
Nodding to the separation of powers and "the genius of our Constitution," Huckabee told Davis supporters on Tuesday that the Supreme Court's power is "limited" and that it "can only review a law." Reasonably true.
But then came his warning that "the founders never gave that one branch of government the power to make a law."
Huckabee added, "That is reserved for the representatives of the people. Our founders were so concerned that they said that should we ever come to the place that we allow a court to run amok of its purpose, then we would be living under what is no less than judicial tyranny."
Huckabee was thin on the specifics of how to tell when a court is running "amok." But it can be gleaned from his comments Tuesday -- and a January interview with talk show host Hugh Hewitt -- that he thinks that Supreme Court rulings on constitutional issues aren't final and that state officials may flout them when they disagree.
In the Hewitt interview, Huckabee said there has to be an "agreement" between the Supreme Court and "the other two branches of government" for something to become the law of the land. Anything less, he said, could potentially lead to a "confrontation."
That thinking reveals a clear misunderstanding of basic civics, not to mention Arkansas' own appalling constitutional history.
This is U.S. History 101: It was settled over two centuries ago that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter on the meaning of the Constitution and of the constitutionality of any laws that may conflict with it. The text of the Constitution provides that it is "the supreme law of the land" and that all other sources of law -- including the states and their constitutions -- are bound by it.
Alternatively, Huckabee could look to a gubernatorial predecessor of his for clues on how misguided his comments are.
Following the Supreme Court's 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Arkansas and its governor, Orval Faubus, stood in staunch opposition to desegregating the state's public schools. They claimed that Brown didn't bind them.
That resistance led to the Supreme Court's ruling four years later in Cooper v. Aaron, which directly involved the Little Rock, Arkansas, school district. With one voice, the justices declared that Brown was indeed "the supreme law of the land."
Why? Because the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution, they said, is "of binding effect on the States."
In addition, the court pointed out that state officials take an oath to support the Constitution. No official can later wage a battle against that Constitution "without violating his undertaking to support it."
That's awfully reminiscent of what Kim Davis is doing with her opposition to issuing marriage licenses -- which, in the view of one scholar, may be a sinful act in and of itself. And it's a constitutional lesson that should make Huckabee think twice before he tells people that a Supreme Court ruling doesn't bind them.
Last Edited: September 9, 2015, 1:52 am
September 7, 2015, 1:25 amHome Grown Terrorists
Is Right Wing Extremism the Biggest Danger Facing America?
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington state was set on fire over the weekend. Officials determined the cause of the fire was arson.
The fire follows a a series of videos released by anti-abortion activists appearing to show Planned Parenthood executives boasting of profits made from the sale of fetal tissue. The videos were later found to be "deceptively edited" by an independent investigator.
Accordingly, such extreme right groups have carried out more acts of terror in the United States than have Islamic militants. According to the New York Times:
Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.
Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants have taken place in the same period.
In fact, just after President Obama took office, a Department of Homeland Security report recognized that the combination of a tanking economy together with the election of America's first African-American president might trigger right-wing violence. The report was later withdrawn, given the headwinds of conservative criticism. Again, according to the New York Times article: "Its main author, Daryl Johnson, later accused the department of "gutting" its staffing for such research."
The sovereign citizen movement, a far right group which number as many as 300,000 and claims not to recognize the authority of federal or local government, is recognized by the FBI as the "nation's top domestic terrorism threat. " The group, like many on the extreme right, shares a "fear that government will confiscate firearms" and a nihilistic "belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy."
Cliven Bundy, notorious for his armed confrontation with law enforcement officials which arose over grazing rights for his cattle on federal land after his refusal to pay grazing fees. is said to share a common ideology with this movement. As does Bundy, movement members consider "the county sheriff to be the most powerful law enforcement official in the country, with authority superior to that of any federal agent, local law-enforcement agency or any other elected official." Afterremarking to the effect that "the Negro" would be better off as slaves than under government subsidies, Bundy was later condemned by former allies on the right who included "conservative politicians and talk show hosts," for example, right-wing bloviatorSean Hannity.
Such statistics are alarming and perhaps gaining enough critical mass that they can no longer be suppressed by conservative politicians as evidence of some left-wing bias in the press. The documentation of the havoc raised by these groups on the extreme right raises questions about the militarization of our police forces across the country, racial profiling by law enforcement, and a media timidity that may result in the under-reporting of violence perpetrated by right-wing extremists given fears of being tagged with having a "liberal bias."
Finally, the right-wing media itself should act responsibly by refraining from promoting such anti-government zealots, as Bundy, as heroes before later abandoning them after the inevitable racial statements are voiced. After all, it is clear from the beginning where their sentiments lie.
August 31, 2015, 2:27 amJust a suggestion
August 29, 2015, 2:56 amHe said he was no hero...really?
Last Edited: August 29, 2015, 2:58 am
August 26, 2015, 3:22 amYou've been Trumpotized!
Last Edited: August 26, 2015, 3:25 am
August 23, 2015, 1:14 amI knew there was something strange about the Donald
Last Edited: August 23, 2015, 1:15 am