Trump Vows “Full-Court Press” As Opposition To ‘RyanCare’ Mounts

As the U. S. House of Representative marks up Paul Ryan’s American Healthcare Act, the battle between the moderate and conservative factions of the Republican Party continues to mount behind the scenes all while opposition from a variety of advocacy groups is also growing. ‘This is what good, conservative health-care reform looks like,’ House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday. ‘It is bold and long overdue. And it is us fulfilling our promises.’
Despite the public bickering, Republicans scored a victory early Thursday, pushing a measure through the House Ways and Means Committee repealing tax penalties on people who don’t buy insurance but otherwise progress on the bill has been slow.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Ryan and House Republicans have to thread a very fine needle on healthcare legislation that appeals to a sufficient number of conservatives to pass the House while not alienating the more moderate factions of the party in the Senate.
House Republican leaders are under pressure to ease passage through the House by making changes that appease conservatives who want a more aggressive repeal of the ACA. Those changes risk further jeopardizing support in the Senate, where centrist Republicans have said they are concerned the proposal will cause too many people to lose coverage, particularly those with low incomes.
Underscoring the Senate’s central role, a group of Republican governors representing states that expanded Medicaid under the existing law have largely given up on lobbying the House and instead are focusing their efforts on the Senate, according to two people familiar with their thinking.

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

Jail. Now.

The byline on this article is misleading — probably because of where it’s published.
Salim Yusuf says new evidence fails to support many major diet recommendations.
There is no such “new evidence.”
Yusuf presented evidence that many of the most significant and impactful nutrition recommendations regarding dietary fats, salt, carbohydrates, and even vegetables are not supported by evidence.
There was never evidence to support those “recommendations”; there was industry gaming, there was outright fraud (the “7 nations study”) and there was and still is lobbying by various organizations.
The results from PURE will likely add fuel to the ongoing fiery debate over carbohydrates and fats. Yusuf displayed data showing that the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the PURE population increases as carbohydrate intake (as a percentage of total calories) rises.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-03-04.

9 Lessons From The Reagan Tax Cuts

A close look at the ’86 tax reform shows why tax reform may not get done this year. As BofAML’s Ethan Harris notes, “we are skeptical.” Significant tax reform creates winners and losers, which may make it hard to find a “coalition of the willing.”
Via BofAML,
Is it a done deal?
By some accounts, tax reform is more or less a done deal. After all, Republicans control both the executive and legislative branches of government so reform could pass without one Democrat vote. In particular, Republicans can use the ‘reconciliation’ process to avoid a filibuster and pass a plan with just 51 votes in the Senate. House Republicans already have a specific plan and the President has already suggested a less fleshed out alternative. The leadership in the House is planning to focus first on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), then writing the tax reform bill after the spring budget passes and enacting the plan by the August recess.
We are skeptical: even with the Republican sweep last fall, tax reform could prove taxing. Any reform requires that some groups give up hard won tax breaks in exchange for lower rates. This creates a complex web of winners and losers, causing splits both across parties and within parties. Here, we draw nine history lessons from the 1986 tax reform.
Nine reasons tax reform is tough
#1 A proclivity for Swiss cheese: The US political system, with the strong influence of lobbyists, seems to have a natural tendency to add complications to the tax code. Loopholes had been steadily added to the tax system in the run-up to 1986 reform, and loopholes have been creeping back into the tax code ever since the reform. Also recall that the ’86 reform put the top rate at 28%, but it has since climbed back to 39.6%. Turning our ‘Swiss cheese’ tax system into ‘American cheese’ will likely be difficult.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 24, 2017.

45 Trillion Reasons Why Gary Cohn Has Recused Himself From All Goldman Matters

Goldman’s former President and COO, who was recently picked to be Trump’s chief economic advisor as head of the National Economic Council, will recuse himself from any matters directly involving his former employer, the White House told the Financial Times.
The topic emerged when the FT learned that the former “#2” at Goldman was spearheading Goldman’s lobbying at the US derivatives regulator on rules prompted by the role swaps contracts played in the 2008 financial crisis. As president of Goldman Sachs, Cohn attended four meetings in 2015 and 2016 with top officials at the CFTC to discuss the swaps rules mandated by the sweeping Dodd-Frank reforms, according to meeting records.
As the FT adds, Cohn’s most recent CFTC meeting as a Goldman representative was on February 19 2016, according to the records. On the same day Trump was campaigning in South Carolina, where he mocked Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton by saying Goldman Sachs had ‘total control’ over them. He ended his campaign by airing an anti-Wall Street ad that displayed an image of Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blankfein as Mr Trump talked of ‘a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class’.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 23, 2017.

Uber’s Former Chief Policy Adviser Fined $90,000 For Illegally Lobbying Chicago’s Rahm Emmanuel

The idea of playing by the rules is a tough concept to grasp for some politicians, particularly those with ties to the ever-corrupt city of Chicago. So when David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager and then Chief Policy Advisor for Uber, sent an email to Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emmanuel seeking assistance in fighting rules that would block Uber from picking up passengers at Chicago’s airports, he probably thought his illegal lobbying efforts would go unnoticed.
That said, Chicago’s ethics board had a slightly different opinion on the issue and has decided to slap Plouffe with a $90,000 fine and levied another $2,000 fine on Uber.
Apparently Plouffe wasn’t registered with the city as a lobbyist for Uber, a requirement he was undoubtedly familiar with, when he sent the following email to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel:
“Assume both of us thought the airport issue was settled and we would never have to discuss again, but unfortunately two significant new hurdles were introduced. Coming to you because of their severity that would prevent us from operating. We were all set to announce Monday we were beginning pickups.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 17, 2017.

Trump Concerned There Are Too Many “Goldman Guys” On His Team

Two days after democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin sent a letter to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, asking if Goldman effectively runs the country through its extensive alumni links at the Trump administration, and requesting details on “lobbying” activities in the bank related to review of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Obama-era fiduciary rule on financial advice, as well as asking for any communication between the bank’s employees and Cohn, Mnuchin, nominee for the SEC chair Jay Clayton and chief strategist Steve Bannon, Bloomberg reported overnight that yet another Goldman banker, Jim Donovan, was under consideration for the No. 2 job at the Treasury Department, however it appears he has “got one big thing working against him.”
That “thing” is the overdue realization by the new president that his cabinet openly appears to have been created and staffed by populism arch nemesis #1, Goldman Sachs. Besides Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary, former Goldman officials working for the new administration include former president Gary Cohn, now director of the National Economic Council; Stephen Bannon, the chief White House strategist; and Dina Powell, formerly the bank’s head of philanthropic investment, who’s an assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives.
So just like Goldman would staff every central bank’s core positions prior to Trump, after the US election, the world’s most influential investment bank has shifted all of its attention on just one person, and he is finally starting to realize that that may not be a good thing.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 12, 2017.

Trump Slams “Astronomical” Drug Prices, Tells CEOs To “Get Prices Down”

In his latest close encounter with top US CEOs, President Donald Trump told drugmakers at a White House meeting Tuesday they were charging ‘astronomical’ prices and promised to get better bargains for government health programs, something even Bernie Sanders would agree with. He also said he would focus on finding ways to get new medicines to market faster.
‘The pricing has been astronomical,’ Trump said to CEOs of some of the world’s biggest drugmakers, who came to Washington after Trump’s criticism of the industry earlier this month sent drug and biotechnology stocks plunging. ‘You folks have done a very great job over the years but we have to get the prices down.’
At the meeting was Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America CEO Stephen Ubl, Merck & Co. CEO Ken Frazier, Eli Lilly & Co. CEO Dave Ricks, Celgene Corp. CEO Bob Hugin and others. They embraced Trump’s calls for lower taxes and fewer regulations. The gathering with drug CEOs came after Trump’s said on Jan. 12 that the industry was ‘getting away with murder’ and promised to act on drug prices. Since then, drugmakers have turned up their lobbying efforts with Congress as a potentially friendlier force that might counter Trump.
‘Some of the policies you’ve come out and suggested i think can help us do more — tax, regulations,’ said Lilly’s Ricks. Also at Tuesday’s White House meeting were Novartis AG CEO Joe Jimenez and Johnson & Johnson Worldwide Chairman of Pharmaceuticals Joaquin Duato.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 31, 2017.

Trump Shuns Establishment ‘Board Meeting’

On Saturday, president Trump signed three more executive orders aimed at fighting terrorism and corruption. They follow yesterday’s order for a temporarily ban on immigrants from certain countries entering the U. S. Today’s actions are as follows:
EO #1: Implementing a five year lobbying ban on administration officials. “This is something I’ve talked about a lot on the campaign trail… and now we’re putting it into effect,” said Trump. EO #2: Calling for a reorganization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. EO #3: Calling on military leaders to present a report to the president in 30 days that outlines a strategy for defeating ISIS. “This is the plan to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, in other words ISIS. I think it’s going to be very successful.”

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

Ukraine’s Problem Is Ukraine

Ukraine’s government has hired Washington lobbyists to fix its problems with the Trump Administration, but would do better to fix its internal problems, instead.
Ukraine’s problems are in four categories: a structural problem caused by the multiple overlapping entities involved in military strategy and procurement; the absence of a unified strategic vision for ordering equipment and supplies; a ‘Fifth Column’ of pro-Russian officials; and a staggering corruption that divides the self-interest of the elites from the national interest.
A recent Rand study highlighted the deficiencies in the command structure of Ukraine’s security sector. Defense procurement particularly has several overlapping structures with no clear lines of authority or unity of command. The President, Prime Minister, Defense Ministry, General Staff and the infamous state-owned defense company, Ukroboronprom, compete against and undercut one another. Each entity produces its own wish list, driven more by impulse than strategy, and each entity has separate financial controls, opening the door to insider dealing and corrupt sales of government property.
In Ukraine, citizens are played for suckers: local militias fight to preserve home and liberty, while the leaders focus on procedure, personal prestige, and offshore bank accounts. Ukroboronprom is infamous for selling arms to the black market, and domestic contracts are given to factories indirectly owned by President Petro Poroshenko, who still hadn’t divested his business interests as he promised to do when he took office in 2014.

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

A Look At Trump’s First Monday In Office: Executive Orders, Meetings, Cabinet Votes And More

As Donald Trump himself tweeted on Monday morning…
“Busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security. Top executives coming in at 9:00 A. M. to talk manufacturing in America.” -via twitter-
… the president’s first official day on the job will be busy, including a meeting with business executivesm congressional leaders (including a separate meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan), signing executive orders and getting his cabinet picks voted through.
According to the WSJ, Trump is also expected to sign various executive orders around 10:30am, which as previewed yesterday will include such topics as trade, immigration, government hiring, Obamacare and a lobbying ban. According to the White House, which released daily guidance for the president on Sunday evening, Trump’s Monday will include a ‘breakfast and listening session with key business leaders’ and a similar afternoon session with union leaders and ‘American Workers.’
Among this week’s key meetings, Trump is scheduled to with meet “top executives” at 9 a.m. today to discuss manufacturing, and British PM Theresa May on Friday.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 23, 2017.

A Preview Of Trump’s Seven Imminent Executive Orders

Having already signed a (mostly symbolic) executive order on Obamacare on Friday night, urging US agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation” of provisions deemed to impose fiscal burdens on states, companies or individuals, Trump is preparing to unload a volley of many more executive orders. Courtesy of Axios, which quotes “one of the best-wired Republican lobbyists in town”, here is a preview of the initial round of Trump executive actions, some of which may hit as soon as Sunday afternoon:
Look for a possible hiring freeze at executive branch 5-year lobbying ban on transition and administration officials Mexico City policy, which prevents foreign NGOs from getting U. S. family planning money if they provide abortions with non-U. S. funds. (It’s already illegal to use U. S dollars on abortions.) Task the Defense Secretary and joint chiefs to come up with plan to eviscerate ISIS Report on readiness, and something cyber security related Border/immigration: Something on sanctuary cities, expand E-Verify, an extreme vetting proposal Trade: Withdraw from TPP and a thorough review of NAFTA Axios also notes that “the Mexico City executive order could come as soon as today.”

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

If You Think “Fake News” Is A New Phenomenon, You’re Wrong

The ‘fog of war’ erupts in the confusion caused by the chaos of war. And in the media, it’s an intentional phenomenon that makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction.
While the battles over war narratives evolve, they all have a common goal: to distort reality on the ground.
***
On Oct. 10, 1990, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl identified only as ‘Nayirah’ told the Congressional Human Rights Caucus that she witnessed Iraqi soldiers removing babies from incubators and leaving them on a cold floor to die.
Her testimony was cited numerous times by senators and even President George H. W. Bush as justification for backing Kuwait in the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, which erupted just three months later.
However, it was later revealed that ‘Nayirah’ was the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, and her testimony was arranged by a PR firm representing a Kuwaiti-sponsored group lobbying Congress for military intervention.

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

The Effort to Undermine Trump Continues

What is getting really interesting is just how desperate many in Washington seem to be about Trump. It seems they are really concerned that he will cut off the gravy train in Washington. Even the Republicans hoped they could train him, fearing that his ban on lobbying for five years could be a deathblow to their livelihood.
Trump is not a racist as the nutcases claim; they are prompted by the Democrats in the campaign. Nobody can discriminate against any class, race, or religion as president. He cannot even overrule abortion – that is the Supreme Court’s decision. So why all the hatred and exaggeration? Why are people saying he wants to stop Muslims coming from other countries? The overall nastiness of those on the left against anyone who disagrees with them is stunning.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Jan 12, 2017.

A Complete List Of What Trump Can, And Can Not Do, On Day One And For The Rest Of 2017

With the Trump inauguration just over 10 days away, attention has now shifted to what Trump will do the moment he steps foot in the White House, and as The Hill reported this morning, judging by his campaign promises, Donald Trump will be a busy man starting on his first day in the Oval Office: “Trump has pledged to take sweeping, unilateral actions on Jan. 20 to roll back President Obama’s policies and set the course for his administration. Many of Obama’s policies he can reverse with the simple stroke of a pen.”
The Hill then lays out some of the key agenda items in terms of Immigration, Environment, Lobbying, Trade and Healthcare.
The reality, however, is a bit more nuanced than captured in the report, and has to take into consideration not only what Trump’s intentions are, but how they would integrate with Congress, where simply structural limitations could put hurdles ahead of the Trump agenda.
So, for a more comprehensive preview of what Trump can – and can not do – both on day one, and for the rest of 2017, we present a recent analysis by Alec Phillips of Goldman Sachs (which, now that Trump has surrounded himself with Goldman alumni will be as critical when it comes to fiscal policy as Goldman was when it came to advising the Federal Reserve on monetary policy), which notes that the political agenda for 2017 is starting to take shape, with tax reform and Obamacare repeal seemingly at the top of the agenda.
Trump will be delighted to know that both items can be passed without Democratic support via the budget reconciliation process.

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

SoftBank Vision Fund Reaches $100BN As Apple, Oracle and Qualcomm Make Investments

Back in October, Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., announced the creation of the SoftBank Vision Fund, a UK-based technology fund, with a $45 billion capital commitment form the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The initial press release for the Vision Fund announced the company expected to invest at least $25 billion over the next 5 years and said that overall funding could reach $100 billion.
Since Donald Trump won the US presidential election in November, Mr. Son has been actively courting the president-elect, by vowing to invest as much as $50bn in American start-ups…something the pair happily announced in the lobby of Trump tower back in December.
Masa (SoftBank) of Japan has agreed to invest $50 billion in the U. S. toward businesses and 50,000 new jobs….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 5, 2017.

Trump Tower Being Evacuated By FDNY, NYPD Due To “Suspicious Package” – Live Feed

Update:
All clear at Trump Tower following the earlier suspicious package in the lobby
— J. Peter Donald (@JPeterDonald) December 27, 2016

Trump Tower is being evacuated due to a “suspicious package” according to NYPD. The president-elect is not at that location (currently in Florida).
Live Feed (via NBC4):

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2016.

Trump No Longer Wants To “Drain The Swamp”, Gingrich Admits

While it will hardly come as a surprise to anyone following the ongoing additions to Trump’s cabinet, one can now effectively cross off “draining the swamp” from the list of Trump’s stated intentions.
Speaking in an NPR interview on Wednesday, former Speaker Newt Gingrich said that Trump has taken a different tone as president-elect and may be leaving behind his campaign promise to ‘drain the swamp.’ Gingrich told “Morning Edition” that he was told Trump ‘now says [the phrase] was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore.’
“I’m told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore,” Gingrich said, and also predicted there would be “constant fighting” over Trump’s efforts to reduce the influence of lobbyists and Washington insiders. ‘But, you know, he is my leader, and if he decides to drop the swamp and the alligator I will drop the swamp and the alligator,’ he said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2016.

Saudi Arabia Lobbying To Amend Sept 11 Law

Following last week’s report that Saudi Arabia is starting to apply pressure on the Trump administration by hinting it could move the Aramco IPO away from New York to some still undeteremined venue due to concerns the recently passed Sept 11 law could make business in the US problematic, on Sunday Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said he has been lobbying US legislators to change a law allowing victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks to sue the kingdom.
According to AFP, Adel al-Jubeir told reporters he had returned from an extended stay in the United States, which was partly “to try to persuade them that there needs to be an amendment of the law”, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). In September, the US Congress voted overwhelmingly to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the JASTA. While 15 of the 19 Al-Qaeda hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudi, Riyadh continues to deny any ties to the plotters who killed nearly 3,000 people, and is worried disclosures in court could lead to material complications about conducting business in America.
“We believe the law, that curtails sovereign immunities, represents a grave danger to the international system,” Jubeir said at a joint press conference with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2016.

BREAKING: Syrian Government Gives Evidence of ‘Rebels’ Using Mustard Gas Against Civilians

Just when you thought things could not get any worse for the US State Dept’s dynamic trio of John Kerry, Samantha Power and John Kirby, and President Obama too – another damning piece of evidence surfaces which implicates Western and Gulf state-backed ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria.
Documents containing evidence of chemical weapons use by ‘rebel’ terrorists have been handed over to the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) international mission in Damascus.
The attack in question is said to have involved the use of Mustard Gas and took place near the village of Maarat Umm Hawsh village in Aleppo province back in September.
Numerous other incidents of ‘rebel’ militants using chemical weapons have been documented in Syria, even by the OPCW, but unfortunately, the only reports the US and its allies seem to interested in are those which implicate the ‘Assad Regime.’
NOTE: Is is possible that the US already knew that the ‘rebels’ had indeed used chemical weapons, and have since been lobbying desperately for a ceasefire – as an attempt to keep Syria and Russia from securing the crime scene in preparation for an official international inspection?

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 18, 2016.