Will Tax Reform Increase or Limit Liberty?

President Trump and the congressional Republican leadership recently unveiled a tax reform ‘framework.’ The framework has a number of provisions that will lower taxes on middle-class Americans. For example, the framework doubles the standard deduction and increases the child care tax credit. It also eliminates the alternative minimum tax (AMT). Created in the 1960s, the AMT was designed to ensure the ‘wealthy’ did not use ‘loopholes’ to ‘get out of’ paying taxes. Today the AMT is mostly a means to increase taxes on the middle class.
The framework eliminates the ‘death tax,’ thus enabling family-owned small businesses and farms to remain family owned. It also helps the economy by lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, reducing taxes on small businesses. The framework also adopts a territorial tax system, which means US companies would only pay tax on profits earned in the United States.
However, the framework is far from a total victory for liberty. Concerns have been raised that, depending on what income levels are assigned to what tax brackets, the plan could increase taxes on many middle- and lower-income Americans! This is largely due to the framework’s elimination of most tax deductions.
The framework also contains a stealth tax increase imposed via the chained consumer price index (chained CPI). Supporters of chained CPI clam the government is currently overstating inflation. The truth is exactly the opposite: government statistics are manipulated to understate inflation.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on October 10, 2017.

Another Collusion Narrative Dies: New Emails Support Trump Jr.’s Account Of Infamous “Russia Meeting”

Another Trump-Russia collusion narrative has bitten the dust.
In a stunning revelation that goes a long way toward alleviating the cloud of suspicion that has hovered over Donald Trump Jr. since details about a meeting organized by Trump Jr. involving Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort along with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and her entourage were first publicized in July, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that newly disclosed emails between Veselnitskaya and Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov largely support Veselnitskaya’s account that the meeting focused on her years long lobbying effort to kill the Magnitsky Act.
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The emails, which were provided to WSJ by Scott Balber, a lawyer for Agalarov, cover a period of time leading up to the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. They begin in October 2015, when Veselnitskaya first shared information about her anti-Magnitsky efforts with Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.

In Early Tweetstorm, Trump Praises WaPo, Slams NBC And “Late Night Comedians”, Reaches Out To Schumer

It took Trump a little longer to get started on twitter Saturday morning, when shortly after 7am ET, the president launched a pair of tweets in which he unexpectedly offered a rare compliment to the Washington Post for its coverage of ‘wonderful small donors’ who have contributed to the Republican party.
‘Can’t believe I finally got a good story in The Washington Post It discusses the enthusiasm of ‘Trump’ voters through campaign contributions. The RNC is taking in far more $’s than the Dems, and much of it by my wonderful small donors. I am working hard for them!’
Can't believe I finally got a good story in the @washingtonpost. It discusses the enthusiasm of "Trump" voters through campaign….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 7, 2017.

The Fed will be a New Creature Soon, and No One Knows What It’ll Look Like

Markets are blowing off this uncertainty for now.
On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Randal Quarles, President Trump’s first Fed nominee, as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. During his confirmation hearing, Quarles said it was time to roll back some of the regulations that were imposed on banks after they’d imploded and threatened to take down the global financial system. He will become the chief bank regulator at the Fed, filling the slot that Daniel Tarullo left behind when he resigned unexpectedly in April.
Quarles is founder of private investment firm, The Cynosure Group. Fed Governor Jerome Powell is also a Cynosure alumnus. Quarles had been a partner at private equity firm The Carlyle Group and served as undersecretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush. WHIRRRR makes the revolving door.
One down, four more to go.
The Fed’s Board of Governors has seven slots, currently chaired by Janet Yellen. After Quarles’ appointment, potentially four more will need to be filled over the next few months.
The seven board members are part of the policy-setting 12-member Federal Open Markets Committee. The other five members of the FOMC are the president of the New York Fed and on a one-year rotating basis four presidents of the remaining 11 regional Federal Reserve Banks.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 6, 2017.

US DOE Wants to Subsidize Coal Plants though Back Door

‘I don’t think the ham-handedness of this action is fully appreciated.’
Wolf here. This is what Bill Tilles, one of the authors of the article below, wrote in an email about the article. It should see the light of day:
As for the DOE action re subsidizing coal plants, there’s a real dog-bites-man aspect to the story, in addition to being extreme inside baseball. Conservative Republicans, eager to reward coal and nuclear interests, propose new regulations by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that aggressively favor coal and nuclear over natural gas to overcome the significant cost advantages that natural gas now has.
To me, the real story is in the 19-page document that the Department of Energy sent to FERC. It was a polemic.
In politics that’s permissible, even expected. But the unusual aspect is that DOE is directing FERC – the agency with real administrative expertise in the area – to make wide-ranging rate changes favorable to coal and nuclear interests based on no additional evidence other than a fake crisis!
You have to think about that for a minute. FERC dockets are voluminous with every imaginable interest group weighing in. And time consuming. These folks in the Trump administration are in effect saying to FERC, ‘We don’t need no stinkin’ records.’ It’s a ginned up crisis. With a predictable, cronyist solution: Hand over money to that special interest. And do it fast, they say, or we’ll all be freezing come winter.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Leonard Hyman and Willian Tilles ‘ Oct 5, 2017.

Welcome To The Hunger Games: Trump’s Tax Plan Is Going To Mean A Battle Royal Among D.C. Lobbyists

Are you ready for mass chaos in Washington? There are lobbyists for just about every cause that you can possibly imagine, and they are always working hard to influence members of Congress on their particular issues. But when you are talking about a major tax reform bill, that is something that virtually every single lobbyist in the entire city will want to be involved in. Our tax code is over two million words long, and the regulations are over seven million words long, and any changes to our immensely complex system could have absolutely enormous implications. There will be winners and there will be losers with any piece of legislation, and lobbyists will zealously fight to defend the turf belonging to their particular clients. Often lobbyists from different sides will literally be pitted directly against one another, and it won’t be pretty. In fact, one analyst that works for Cowen Washington Research Group says that we could soon be watching ‘the corporate hunger games’…
Almost every industry, special interest, and consumer group has an interest in the tax code, especially if the package ends up being as ambitious as Trump and Republican leaders want it to be. Chris Krueger, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, told Business Insider that the battle over which loopholes to keep and which to throw out could get nasty.

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on September 29th, 2017.

Obama Is Funding The Anti-Trump Movement With Sleazy Backdoor Policies And Taxpayer Money

Barack Obama is funding the anti-Trump movement through a series of backdoor deals and policies. Wall Street may be surprised to learn that it is also helping bankroll the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ whether they wanted to or not. Wall Street is fighting policies which would heavily favor it, including corporate tax cuts and the repeal of Obama-era banking and health-care regulations.
We have the Obama administration to thank for the harsh anti-Trump movement by far left groups, according to an article by the New York Post.
The Obama administration’s massive shakedown of Big Banks over the mortgage crisis included unprecedented back-door funding for dozens of Democratic activist groups who were not even victims of the crisis. At least three liberal nonprofit organizations the Justice Department approved to receive funds from multibillion-dollar mortgage settlements were instrumental in killing the ObamaCare repeal bill and are now lobbying against GOP tax reform, as well as efforts to rein in illegal immigration. An estimated $640 million has been diverted into what critics say is an improper, if not unconstitutional, ‘slush fund’ fed from government settlements with JPMorgan Chase and Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., according to congressional sources.
The payola is potentially earmarked for third-party interest groups approved by the Justice Department and HUD without requiring any proof of how the funds will be spent. Many of the recipients so far are radical leftist organizations who solicited the settlement cash from the administration even though they were not parties to the lawsuits, records show.
‘During the Obama administration, groups committed to ‘revolutionary social change’ sent proposals and met with high-level HUD and Justice Department officials to try to get their pieces of the settlement pie,’ Cause of Action Institute vice president Julie Smith told The Post. -New York Post

This post was published at shtfplan on September 25th, 2017.

Bannon Held Secret Meeting With China’s Second Most Powerful Man

Shortly after Steve Bannon visited Hong Kong last week to give a closed-door speech at a big investor conference hosted by CLSA, a Chinese state-owned brokerage and investment group, Trump’s former strategist flew to Beijing for a “secret meeting with the second most powerful Chinese Communist party official”, less than a month after the former chief White House strategist declared that America was at ‘economic war with China’, the FT has reported.
The meeting occurred at Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership compound, where Bannon meet with Wang Qishan, the head of the Chinese Communist party’s anti-corruption campaign.
“The Chinese reached out to Bannon before his Hong Kong speech because they wanted to ask him about economic nationalism and populist movements which was the subject of his speech,” the FT quoted a “person familiar” with the situation.
Mr Wang, who is seen as the second most powerful person in China after President Xi Jinping, arranged through an intermediary for a 90-minute meeting after learning that Mr Bannon was speaking on the topic, according to the second person, who stressed there was no connection to President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to China.
As the FT adds, the (not so) secret meeting between Bannon and Wang will “stoke speculation that the Chinese anti-graft tsar, who has purged hundreds of senior government officials and military officers for corruption in recent years, may continue to work closely with Mr Xi during his second term in office.” Under recent precedent, Mr Wang, who turned 69 in July, would be expected to step down from the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist party’s most powerful body. But his many admirers argue that as China’s most knowledgeable and experienced financial technocrat, he should stay on to help Mr Xi force through a series of stalled financial and economic reforms.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.

Trump: Madman Kim “Will Be Tested Like Never Before”

Following Kim Jong-Un’s televized response to Trump’s UN speech, in which he called the US president a “mentally deranged dotard” and vowed to “tame the U. S. dotard with fire”, Donald Trump took to twitter this morning, responding in kind that “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!”
Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2017

As a reminder, Kim’s last jawboning effort deserved a solid A+ for vivid tragicomic imagery and hollow threats:
“[Trump’s] remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.”
The mentally deranged behavior of the U. S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.
“After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.

Elon Musk Sycophants Attack Ron Paul As A Shill For Defense Industry

What’s next? A unicorn captured in Tennessee? The world I grew up in has changed. American Universities are handing out Play-Doh to comfort distraught liberals and ‘Never Trump’ students. Protestors defaced a Thomas Jefferson statueat the University of Virginia due to his slave ownership. Race baiters attacked Hobby Lobby for displaying raw cotton in vases. The P. C. Police have continually demonstrated their desire to attack the America many of us love.
Now, the snowflake class is writing articles stating Ron Paul – the former Texas congressman that made a career out of criticizing bloated defense budgets and hawkish foreign policy decisions – is shilling for the defense industry. Their ‘evidence’ is that he received five-year-old campaign contributions from some employees of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which they falsely credited with coming directly from the companies themselves.
Dr. Paul’s alleged wrongdoing was writing an op-ed mildly critical of Elon Musk, a government subsidy-eating machine and poster boy for left-wing environmental causes.
In the article, Paul, an Air Force veteran, expressed his opposition to Section 1615 of the National Defense Authorization Agreement (NDAA), which many speculate was written with the congressional intent of quietly extinguishing all serious competition to Musk’s SpaceX.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 18, 2017.

“Class Envy Run Amok” – Fund Manager Asks Trump To Pardon Michael Milken

Twenty-three years after former Drexel Burnham Lambert executive Michael Milken finished a 22-month minimum-security prison sentence, one fund manager is lobbying President Donald Trump to pardon his past convictions, arguing that Milken’s prosecution was an example of anti-banker hysteria run amok.
Wealth-management executive David Bahnsen told Bloomberg that he sent a plea to Trump asking that he pardon Milken, an innovator who is widely lauded in the financial world for helping to popularize junk bonds among a broader set of investors during the 1980s. Bizarrely, Bahnsen says he’s never met the man. Milken pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges in 1992, and was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison, though he only served 22 months.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 1, 2017.

Podesta Group Subpoenaed By Special Counsel Mueller In Russia Probe

Just over a year ago we wrote about Paul Manafort resigning from the Trump campaign amid outrage over his consulting firm’s ties to a lobbying campaign designed to sway American public opinion in favor of the Ukraine’s pro-Russsian government (see: FBI Probes Firm Belonging To Brother Of Clinton Campaign Chair For Ukraine Corruption Ties).
The top political news on Friday was the unexpected resignation of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, which was the result of emerging revelations that his political consulting firm, DMP International, had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation in the period 2012-2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s then ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government (which was overthrown in a CIA-orchestrated coup in early 2014).
As the AP reported yesterday, the lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine’s then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. Furthermore, under the U. S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (or FARA), US entities who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders or political parties must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department.
Now, fast forward one year and it seems as though an honest attempt to destroy Trump’s campaign may ensnare another rather unlikely victim, namely The Podesta Group. As our readers are undoubtedly aware by now, The Podesta Group (PG) was co-founded by Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, John Podesta, and is still run by his brother, Tony Podesta. Now, according The Daily Caller, PG, one of six lobbying firms that worked on Manafort’s campaign to get Ukraine into the European Union between 2012 to 2014, finds itself directly in the crosshairs of Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia probe.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 28, 2017.

Shamir Urges Trump: “Bring Me The Head Of Jeff Bezos”

Here is what Donald Trump should call for this morning. This is the right time to up his ante in the struggle against the Lgenpresse. All his efforts to fix the sinking ship of the US society are in vain with a breach below the waterline. If the Fake News applauds every jerk in a mantle who stops a presidential decree, the jerks will multiply and president’s decrees will be worth what? A collector’s rarity. A quirky exhibit from the days of Donald Trump’s short-lived presidency. The fake news media ridiculed the POTUS so completely, that this big man with big orange hair shrunk down to Lilliput’s finger.
Trump can’t get out of his disposition by foreign policy acts. Forget about North Korea. It is a big hedgehog: a lot of bother to catch and kill, many prickles and no meat. The only thing Kim wants to tell Trump is ‘I am not a soft target, go look elsewhere’. Is North Korea dangerous? Only for those who want to step on it.
P G Wodehouse’s Mr Mulliner argued with anti-smoker lobby: ‘They come and tell me that if they place two drops of nicotine on the tongue of a dog the animal instantly dies and when I ask them if they have ever tried the childishly simple device of not placing nicotine on the dog’s tongue, they have nothing to reply They are nonplussed. They go away mumbling something about never having thought of that before.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.

A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack

Written by Patrick Lawrence of The Nation,
It is now a year since the Democratic National Committee’s mail system was compromised – a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment.
The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole.
All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that ‘hack’ and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 10, 2017.

Berlin Calls For “Countermeasures” To US Sanctions Against Russia, Hints At Trade War

While the Pentagon may be already contemplating its next steps in the escalating conflict with Russia, which as the WSJ reported will likely involve supplying Ukraine with antitank missiles and other weaponry – a red line for the Kremlin not even the Obama administration dared to cross – there is minor matter of what to do with a suddenly furious Europe, which as we discussed previously, has vowed it would retaliate promptly after Trump signed the anti-Russia legislation into law, due to allegations it was just a veiled attempt at favoritism for US-based energy companies.
And, sure enough, on Monday, the Germany economy minister said that tew penalties against Moscow proposed by US lawmakers violate international law and officials in Brussels should consider countermeasures.
Speaking to Funke Mediengruppe newspaper, Brigitte Zypries said that “we consider this as being against international law, plain and simple.” She added that “of course we don’t want a trade war. But it is important the European Commission now looks into countermeasures.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 1, 2017.

Birkenstock CEO Accuses Amazon Of “Modern Day Piracy”

President Donald Trump might’ve been on to something when he accused the Washington Post of being a ‘lobbyist weapon For Amazon.’
In a rambling five-page email published by WaPo, the CEO of Birkenstock USA threatened to cut off authorized retailers who sell even a ‘single pair’ of its shoes to Amazon.com Inc., a continuation of his crusade against the online retailer, which began about a year ago when he demanded that the e-commerce powerhouse do more to ferret out fakes being sold on its platform. In the missive, CEO David Kahan blasted Amazon for soliciting Birkenstock retailers, offering to buy the company’s shoes from them for full price. Birkenstock stopped selling its shoes on Amazon earlier this year, citing a rise in counterfeit products and unauthorized sellers.
Though the paper disclosed its conflict of interest, the story was obviously intended to embarrass a business rival of WaPo owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, despite the paper’s smoothly neutral tone.
‘In the email, Kahan called the entreaty a ‘desperate act’ and a ‘PERSONAL AFFRONT.’ ‘Birkenstock does NOT sell [to] Amazon,’ he wrote in the email to retail partners. ‘And it is clear that they are seeking back-channel means by which to obtain our brand.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 26, 2017.

Trump Preparing Counteroffensive; Begins Investigating Mueller’s Team For Conflicts

Over the past two days there have been some rather substantial developments in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into alleged ties between President Trump and the Kremlin. First came the news yesterday that Mueller planned to expand his probe to review Trump’s personal business transactions, an announcement which sent stocks tumbling on the day (see: Mueller Expands Probe Into Trump Business Transactions: Dollar Tumbles, Stocks Slammed). Meanwhile, just this morning we learn that the Trump legal team has been shaken up with Kasowitz out (not terribly surprising after his recent email meltdown) and Corrallo resigning (see Trump Legal Shake Up: Kasowitz Out As Personal Attorney, Corrallo Resigns).
Now, as the New York Times points out, Trump may be preparing a counter-offensive aimed at identifying potential conflicts of interest among the people hired by Mueller in order to force recusals.
President Trump’s lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation – or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused, according to three people with knowledge of the research effort.
The search for potential conflicts is wide-ranging. It includes scrutinizing donations to Democratic candidates, investigators’ past clients and Mr. Mueller’s relationship with James B. Comey, whose firing as F. B. I. director is part of the special counsel’s investigation.
The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 21, 2017.