Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Links for Sept. 30, 2015 (Excluding Syria, Russia and the Pope)

The former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, who became president and CEO of the Clinton Foundation earlier this year, recently suffered a stroke.

Another example of Hillary Clinton following in Bernie Sanders' footsteps: Hillary Clinton will come out this week against a tax on generous health-care plans, which is a key means of funding the Affordable Care Act that she supports, but she's SUCKING UP TO UNIONS because they also oppose this tax. Clinton plans to announce that she seeks a repeal of the so-called “Cadillac tax” on premium health plans. Senators Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown and 10 of their colleagues have already introduced legislation that repeals that tax — and Sanders opposed the provision when it was first included in the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010. But as usual, Hillary is getting all the headlines and credit from the mainstream media. But when it comes to "social media", so far this month (Sept. 1 through Sept. 29) Bernie has actually been mentioned more frequently than Hillary Clinton on Twitter. He’s got more than 1.9 million mentions, compared to nearly 1.8 million for Clinton, according to Zignal Labs.

Paul Ryan has a plan that will gut Obamacare if a Republican is elected president in 2016. With the current Congress, the GOP can't repeal Obamacare, but they will be able to de-fund large portions of it — and they will.

Recently on CBS's 60 Minutes host Scott Pelley interviewed Donald Trump about his tax proposal and other issues (Video and transcript here). Scott Pelley had called Social Security "a basket case". Also check out Trump's collection of magazine covers of himself that he keeps on his desk.

Grover Norquist blesses Trump’s tax plan. From the Washington Examiner: The nation’s biggest anti-tax advocate, Grover Norquist, said it would produce “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Americans for Tax Reform said Trump’s plan is “consistent” with the advocacy group’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” (Like all GOP tax plans, Trump's plan mostly benefits the rich while raising the deficit.)

Paul Krugman: "I do want to weigh in for a minute on Donald Trump’s tax plan — which would, surprise, lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit. That’s in contrast to Jeb Bush’s plan, which would lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit, and Marco Rubio’s plan, which would lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit. At this point there are no Republican candidates deviating at all from the usual pattern. Why, it’s almost as if nobody in the party ever cared about deficits except as an excuse to slash social spending, and is totally committed to redistributing income upward. And there is, of course, no evidence — zero, nada, zilch — that cutting taxes on the rich will yield large economic benefits."

My post from yesterday: Jeb Bush: "Of course the rich will get richer..." — where I said pretty much what Paul Krugman said, but with far more words ;)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the famous multi-millionaire who threw his low-paid equipment mangers under the bus, walked back his Donald Trump endorsement. From the Hollywood Reporter: “Tom Brady has called a Trump audible. The New England Patriots quarterback said Monday that he didn’t actually endorse Trump’s White House bid. Previously, the four-time Super Bowl champion made headlines when it was reported he had a ‘Make America Great’ hat in his locker. In addition, Brady said a Trump presidency ‘would be great.'”

The announcement that water has been found on the Red Planet just happens to have emerged at the same time as the Matt Damon film "The Martian" is being released. We’re not talking gushing rivers or oceans here, but patches of precipitated salt that appear to dribble down Mars’ steep slopes like tears rolling gently down a cheek. Rush Limbaugh says the NASA announcement will be used to "advance the leftist agenda" — but he doesn't say what this agenda might be.

The news of Mars reminded me of a short story called "The Jaunt" by Stephen King, which was first published in The Twilight Zone Magazine in 1981 and later included in King's 1985 collection of short stories in "Skeleton Crew". In 2015 there was news to make this story into a movie by Brad Pitt's Plan B Pictures.

Edward Snowden joined Twitter with the verified account @Snowden with his first tweet:

Edward Snowden joined Twitter

Democrats on the House oversight committee are trying to force Valeant Pharmaceuticals International to provide documents explaining hefty price increases for two heart drugs. The drug maker’s stock price fell 17% after Democrats requested the subpoena. Valeant refused early this month to submit documents sought by Rep. Elijah Cummings and Senator Bernie Sanders explaining the 525% and 212% price increases the company took on the two drugs the day it acquired their rights, saying the requested information was “highly proprietary and confidential.” (Related post: When Crime Pays: About Johnson & Johnson's drug called "Risperdal")

Rock legend Dave Matthews told Rolling Stone that he supports Bernie Sanders — and Amazon is quashing an effort by a Texas teenager to use the company’s website to funnel cash into his newly formed pro-Bernie Sanders super PAC. His website:

10 Reasons Bernie Sanders Will Overtake Hillary Clinton in National Polls: According to the Huffpost Pollster interactive chart, last June Clinton's support within the Democratic Party was at 58.3% to only 15.6% for Bernie Sanders. Fast forward a couple of months and Bernie Sanders is now only 7 points from Clinton. Feel the Bern!

Former Democratic pollster and DINO (and current has-been) Pat Caddell was on Fox News yesterday with Neil Cavuto (Tuesday, September 29,2015) and said Senator Bernie Sanders was "way out there beyond the mainstream". But if one were to visit Bernie Sanders' and Hillary Clinton's website, they may see little difference on most of the issues — so Patt Caddell may also think Hillary is also "way out there beyond the mainstream".

The two charts below are from a recent WMUR/CNN poll showing Bernie Sanders v. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump:

Recent WMUR/CNN poll

A black business group is denouncing Obama's proposed restrictions on smog. The National Black Chamber of Commerce, which acknowledges receiving strong financial backing from Exxon Mobil and other fossil-fuel interests, has specifically tailored its message to African American audiences.

Facing the tough and challenging issues of our time: Hillary Clinton responds to a question about whether she likes Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks during a Facebook chat: “The true answer is I used to be until I saw how many calories are in them.”

Addresses pop up quickly on a 911 dispatcher’s screen when a call comes from a landline. But dispatchers can’t always locate callers when the calls come from cellphones — especially when made from indoors. More than 10,000 people die every year when calling 911 from a cellphone because emergency dispatchers can’t get a quick and accurate location on them. Technical solutions exist that can locate people calling on cellphones within seconds. But tough rules proposed by the FCC in February 2014 aimed at requiring more accurate indoor locations of callers to 911 were weakened through a nearly year-long lobbying campaign by wireless carriers.

Senator Elizabeth Warren raises Hell. I would call this "Corrupting Scholars for Profit" or "The Financial Industry Hijacks Scholars to Write Reports to help Lobby Legislation that Benefits the Financial Industry" (It's about the financial industry ripping off old people's retirement funds.) UPDATE: How Elizabeth Warren picked a fight with Brookings — and won

A federal grand jury Tuesday indicted a Washington D.C. businessman and one-time aide to former mayor Vincent C. Gray on two misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns — and is the eighth person with an association to mayor Gray who has been charged in a federal court.

More Corruption, but in Senator Lindsey Graham's and Rep. Trey Gowdy's home state of South Carolina ...

South Carolina politicians use their office to enrich themselves, and have what amounts to a personal ATM that dispensed nearly $100 million since 2009, including for such things as hiring their own companies, paying parking tickets and taking overseas trips.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley received an estimated $380,000 worth of free football passes to University of South Carolina and Clemson University football games during her first four years as governor — and the state says there’s nothing wrong with that.

Annual pay for South Carolina’s part-time House and Senate members receive $10,400 — but actually are paid more than double that amount — and many receive closer to four times that much, with most of the income coming in the form of $1,000-a-month payments for “in-district expenses” that are, in fact, treated as taxable income and are counted toward lawmakers’ pensions.


  1. Trump's Tax Plan in a Nutshell

    For individuals, Trump's plan would:

    * Reduce the top income tax rate on wages from 39.6% to 25% (and lowers the tax rate for low-income people who already wouldn't owe taxes because of the personal exemption.)

    * Reduce the tax rate on capital gains for multi-billionaires from 23.8% to 20% (by eliminating the 3.8% surtax provided by Obamacare to expand Medicaid for poor people.)

    * Entirely eliminates the estate tax for the trust-fund babies of dead multi-billionaires.

    The only tax that goes up for the rich --> Trump's plan would tax "carried interest" at ordinary income tax rates (instead of capital gains and dividends tax rates). This means that the tax rate that hedge fund managers and private equity investors like Mitt Romney have long enjoyed would be taxed as regular wages. But under Trump's plan, it would only be a slightly more: Under Trump's tax plan, the top income tax rate for regular wages would be 25%, and capital gains are currently taxed at 23.8% — so Mitt need not worry. All other taxes on the rich go down.

    For businesses that generate most of the capital gains --> Trump's plan reduces the tax on corporations and pass-through businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent, preserves the foreign tax credit, and provides a one-time repatriation tax of 10 percent on all foreign profits currently deferred.

    The conservative Tax Foundation found that Trump's plan would boost the incomes of the top 1 percent of taxpayers by 21.8 percent, while those of the lowest-income Americans would rise by only 1.4 percent. The national debt, meanwhile, would jump by $12 trillion over the next decade.

  2. Interesting Bernie Links

    The campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said it reached its goal of one million individual online contributions. He is the first candidate of the 2016 campaign to announce it had reached this number – and he reached it faster than President Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012. [And that's without corporate, union or superPAC money — but from small individual donors.]

    Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary Robert Reich says Bernie Sanders has been telling the truth during his surging campaign:

    "The Socialist Senator" (New York Times, posted on January 21, 2007) Keep in mind that this was written just as Bernie was transistioning from the House to the Senate -- and almost a year before onset of the Great Recession. It includes a lot of interesting tidbits you might not have heard about.

    Sanders has a long track record on the side of gay rights in general -- and when it comes to same-sex marriage. [Long before Hillary Clinton just recently "evoloved".]

    Hillary Clinton brags that she has the support of politicans within the Establishment "Moderate" Democratic Polical Machine [Meaning: Screw the majority of THE PEOPLE who might want Bernie Sanders as President instead.]