Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2017: Shut Up And Act, Tom…

GOOD MORNING!

Finally! I get to hang the collected history of three families that are our tree ornaments. You know, the fun part…

1 And this is why actors speak from scripts. Tom Hanks, pimping for the mainstream news media-extolling Washington Post movie, the one with Harvey Weinstein enabler Meryl Streep playing Katherine Graham, actually uttered this Authentic Frontier Gibberish:

“It is relatively obvious, I think, what is trying to go forward, when you tear down these institutions to a level of, so you can’t believe anything that is in any of them. That raises the stock of those agenda-filled other institutions and whatnot, so that if you can’t believe them, well, that means you get to believe some of the other stuff that is in these.”

I have generally thought Hanks unusually thoughtful for an actor, but this is disgraceful. First, whatever diminishment journalism has suffered in credibility is 100% the fault of journalists, their arrogance, their incompetence, their bias, and their deliberate abandonment of their own stated ethics principles. 100%. Second, Hanks needs a primer on trust, and to read B.F. Skinner’s work on the effects of intermittent negative reinforcement on rats. (Quick summary: it drives them nuts.) If news sources are sometimes telling the truth and sometimes spinning, sometimes lying and sometimes hiding the ball, and major, revered “institutions” like the New York Times announce mid-Presidential campaign that their mission is no longer to report facts but to stop a particular candidate, then those news sources cannot be trusted, as in “believed.”

Third,  anyone, in light of, oh, the past 20 years, who does not believe that the mainstream media organizations have “agendas” is certifiably stupid. I don’t believe Hanks is stupid, despite the fact that his statement easily makes the Garbled Syntax and Logic Hall of Blather. What he is arguing, however, is that other sources of information have agendas, while those he follows are just Undeniably Correct.

2. Exhibit A. The media coverage of  the Republican tax bill that was passed yesterday shows how deluded (or dishonest—I’m giving Tom the benefit of Hanlon’s Razor) Hanks is.  Again, I am lousy at this tax stuff, as are most people, therefore I know that the polls reporting widespread unpopularity of the bill are, again, 100% the product of most of the news media carrying the Democrats’ hysterical and hyperbolic attacks without nuance or critical analysis.

One example: for years, I have been reading progressive sources complain about the home mortgage interest deduction as an unethical entitlement to the middle class that is prejudicial to renters, artificially inflates home values, and misaligns  resources. These critiques usually end with hopeless conclusions that neither party will have the courage or integrity to take on this giant sacred cow. Well, the GOP tax bill does, taking a step in the right direction by capping it. There was very little discussion of that element in the news coverage, and what there was, was negative. Nor did any mainstream news media source—as opposed to those “agenda-driven” alternate sources Tom Hanks despises, aka “blogs” (and Fox News, or course)—point out the head-blowing hypocrisy of this tweet from Senator Diane Feinstein:

“The Republican tax bill caps the mortgage interest deduction at $750,000 for new mortgages. In California, seven counties have average home prices that are more than $750,000: Alameda, Marin, Orange, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. #GOPTaxScam”

Feinstein’s party’s attack plan to derail the bill—other than bribery, of course, but Rosie O’Donnell isn’t party leadership—was based on its traditional, tried and true “tax cuts for the rich”  lament. Then Feinstein has the chutzpah to complain when her state’s rich lose a perk. Pointing this out just might cause the public to question the sincerity and probity of the way the tax bill was being represented…so, naturally, the news media didn’t point it out.

3. Hmmm.…My NY Times literally just arrived. Let’s look at the headlines:

  • The big one, across the page:

GOP Exults As Congress Delivers Tax Bill

Translation: The Bad Guys are gloating. Oh, and their terrible tax bill passed…

  • Under that:

Gamble By Trump on Expansion Defies Odds

Translation: It’s reckless, dumb and irresponsible, of course, but that’s Trump!

  • And next to that one:

Savoring a Win in a Year of Setbacks

Translation: The administration’s  a disaster, but Trump won something, finally. You can’t lose ’em all.

No partisan bias or spin there!

(Pssst: It has not been “a year of setbacks,” The Times and the anti-Trump mainstream media just hasn’t chosen to highlight positive accomplishments. At best, that headline’s an opinion, and a partisan one. As a statement of fact, and headlines are supposed to be factual, that is fake news.

3. Yet, oddly..The Times did not include any of the following on its front page, or even on the front of the business pages!

Sure, these are political moves and public relations  by large corporations calculated to bolster the President’s pro-business policies. They are still significant. They are still news, that reflect on the tax bill.

The Times buried it all because it didn’t fit the anti-tax bill narrative it is carrying for the Democratic Party.

Does anyone have a different theory?

Tom?

71 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Finance, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

71 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2017: Shut Up And Act, Tom…

  1. There were 23 typos I had to correct within the five minutes after I posted this. I’m sorry: writing fast, because I have promised to keep. I THINK I got them all….

  2. It’s been a sight to behold watching the Left spin raises and bonuses as signs of how the Tax plan is all crap. But to be expected when the Left spins negatively the fact that a vast majority of Americans will be keeping more of their *own* money.

    • I am especially amused by the sudden Democratic concern about the national debt. See, even if the other side is hypocritical, you can’t call them out on being hypocritical when you calling them out is itself hypocritical.

      At least the GOP is claiming that its plan won’t blow up the deficit. During Obama, the Democrats just didn’t care.

      • How about when Obama said the ACA would provide average savings per household of about $2500 (which never materialized) it was wonderful, but when the GOP tax cut might actually do it, it’s an unmitigated disaster.

      • Chris

        At least the GOP is claiming that its plan won’t blow up the deficit. During Obama, the Democrats just didn’t care.

        I’m not getting this. You think it’s more ethical to add to the deficit and lie about it then it is to add to the deficit and believe that doing so doesn’t matter?

        • I think I was clear. I think the GOP believes that tax plan won’t lead to the huge deficits the Democrats claim it will, and that cuts can make up the difference. That’s not lying: it may be wrong, but it’s not lying. The Democrats, even after Obama promised in 2008 to reduce THE DEBT, not just control the deficit, added more to the debt in 8 years than the previous three administrations combined. As I said, the Democrats acted as if this was no big deal, and now are suddenly concerned.

          • Chris

            I think the GOP believes that tax plan won’t lead to the huge deficits the Democrats claim it will,

            Neat trick. It isn’t just the Democrats who claim it will, it’s the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

            Didn’t you just write today that this kind of deception is the same as lying?

            • They don’t believe the CBO because the CBO is often wrong. Like, say, when it said that Obamacare wouldn’t increase the debt.

              • Chris

                The CBO never said Obamacare wouldn’t increase the debt. They said it would lower the deficit. They were correct.

                Your faith in the purity of the Republican party is incredibly naive. I guess when Democrats make promises completely untethered to reality, they’re lying, but when Republicans do it, it’s just because they truly believe it in their hearts.

                • Chris Marschner

                  “The CBO never said Obamacare wouldn’t increase the debt. They said it would lower the deficit. They were correct.”

                  Think about the statement above. The fact is debt is the accumulation of deficits. If projected deficits falls the implication is that the expected total debt will fall based on the expected deficit reduction. This did not happen. Any new spending program adds to debt and deficits unless you can show direct cost reductions associated with declining health care costs before you can claim it lowers deficits. This did not happen. The added costs associated with the subsidies supplanted spending elsewhere such as defense which created lower overall deficits. Had defense spending stayed flat then the deficit with the new program increased. I can reduce deficits easily by holding entitlements flat for the next ten years; but you would have none of that nor would millions of voters that is why deficits and debt continue to spiral upward.

                  The only way to cut deficits is to trim spending or increase taxes. Given that total health care spending increased, the only logical conclusion is that the modest growth during those years increased revenues sufficient to overwhelm the increased costs associated with the ACA. That is a stretch unless tax rates increased or we started taxing more things to achieve revenue targets. Imposing a $750 fine on individuals for choosing not to be compelled into buying a product that they did not want and that the product they did want did not meet the mandated minimum coverage levels is a tax according to Chief Justice Roberts. Eliminating the fine is a tax cut then for all those that chose not to buy inflated health coverage. I found the article you referenced funny when it stated that the requirement to purchase health care coverage remains only the penalty has been eliminated. If the ACA mandate has been repealed or there is simply no penalty for non-compliance the effect is the same. People get to choose and the ACA lives or dies on its on merits.

                  • Dwayne N. Zechman

                    “The only way to cut deficits is to trim spending or increase taxes.”

                    No. You can also grow the economy so that incomes increase (each individual taxpayer makes more money but also pays more taxes because of it), and so that unemployment decreases (which creates new taxpayers that didn’t exist before).

                    –Dwayne

  3. Junkmailfolder

    #2. Maybe the loss of the deduction will lower the property values enough in those counties that normal people will be able to live there?

    When messing with taxes, you can’t win. The other party will always identify the “losers” in tax reform, whether it’s the people paying more or the people who are getting less relief (and the rich will almost always get more relief, since they have a much larger piece of the pie). I despise the viewpoint that the lower class is “losing” on tax reform because the rich are getting more of a benefit–it plays right into the twisted viewpoint that the government owns all our income and allowing us to keep some of it is a privilege.

    • Isaac

      “Maybe the loss of the deduction will lower the property values enough in those counties that normal people will be able to live there?”

      But normal people aren’t SUPPOSED to live there! The spots on the beach are reserved for the ruling class liberals! Their helpless, riff-raff dependents, the beneficiaries of their loving care, are supposed to be happy in bankrupt cities like Stockton and San Bernardino, or dodging bullets in Oakland while the Feinsteins and Weinsteins gleefully mismanage their tax money. No wonder she’s mad.

  4. Unrelated, but…

    (bolds mine throughout)
    Rebecca Carroll (who is reportedly Black): ”the women Charlie (Rose) preferred and preyed upon—at least that I witnessed—were white. It was an environment that all but erased me, while simultaneously exploiting me as a black woman.

    Am I reading this right: she’s chafed because she wasn’t hit on/ harassed, and because she wasn’t indicates Rose is a racist?

    “In America, the most desirable woman in the room—the most sacred, coveted, enshrined woman—has always been the white woman……..”

    The kill shot:

    ”Meanwhile, powerful white men, however outfacing liberal or progressive they may appear, are the architects of structural racism and white supremacy in America.

    I’m confused; does that mean Righties aren’t holding up their end?

    http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a13978884/charlie-rose-sexual-harassment-accuser-story/

  5. Chris marschner

    The animus toward the tax bill is a result of the intelligentsia shooting themselves in the foot with the class warfare strategy.

    This is the inevitable result when they have pilferred the bank accounts of the uber wealthy to such a degree that they now find themselves in the crosshairs of the taxman.

    • Democrats are scared shitless that this passed… every time we did this in the past, they were marginalized for years as Americans kept their own money and the economy boomed.

      That Democrats look at this as bad is an indictment.

  6. Wayne

    I don’t take much that Tom Hanks says seriously about the mainstream media. He’s a fine actor but hasn’t got a clue about how the new tax plan will effect the U.S. economy. I can hardly wait to hear his I’ll informed remarks at the Academy Awards. Hopefully he will be man enough after awhile to admit he was wrong if this new tax plan works out well.

  7. Lefty Billionaire Tommy Steyer: “Be careful what you (Righties) wish for, […] They wanted this, they should have never have wanted it. Now that they’ve got it, they’re going to wish they didn’t.”

    ”Steyer said he plans to use his money – through his political group NextGen America – to attack the Republican tax overhaul using social media and online advertising aimed at young voters, a strategy that recently helped elect Democratic candidate Doug Jones in a Senate race in Alabama and Ralph Northam as governor of Virginia.”

    Steyer does an admirable job of concealing his low-spirited despondency about having more of his own money available to herd monumentally impressionable young Lefties.

    • Yeah, if he does as good a job as he did with his “impeach Trump” garbage, he’ll have ’em trembling in their boots.

    • DaveL

      a strategy that recently helped elect Democratic candidate Doug Jones in a Senate race in Alabama

      Again with the touting of Democrat “strategy” in the Alabama Senate race. Before the vote it was all about what a terrible candidate the GOP had. And he was terrible, the worst I’ve ever seen. Yet the moment he lost, suddenly it was all about the Democrats’ strategy as if that were the deciding factor instead.

      • Isaac

        I sneaked into their tree house and observed their strategy outlined on the wall in crayon:

        BRILLANT STRAGEGEE:
        1. OPONENT CHASEDED TEEN GIRLS IN HIS 30s
        2. SAY THAT’S BAD
        3. WIN

        It was truly one of history’s greatest political chess games.

  8. Directly related, but one of those things that people don’t really talk about:

    Trump cutting the corporate tax rate to 26% was brilliant. Unmitigated shrewd.

    “But it’s a tax cut to corporations Jeff!”

    Why yes it is, voice of what everyone is thinking. But it’s also a tax cut on corporations exactly .1% less than most EU states and .7% less than Canada.

    What that means is that the corporate HQ exodus, where America has been hemorrhaging corporate offices for about a decade because of tax treaty implications, will probably end.

    As a refresher; In a situation where a company is headquartered in a country with a higher rate of taxation than some of it’s branch locations, the profit of those branch locations will generally be taxed at the local rate first, and then the different between the local rate and the HQ rate second.

    So if the tax rate in Canada is 10% and the tax rate in America is 15%, McDonalds has to pay the 10% tax to Canada first, and the 5% tax to America second, on all their Canadian restaurants. If McDonalds were to move to Canada, they would only have to pay the 10% tax to Canada, and not have to pay America a dime on those Canadian profits. This creates an incentive to move.

    That was generally the trend while the American tax rate was higher than Canada’s (And the EU’s and and and…) Well, now the corporate tax rate is .7% less in America than it is in Canada. This means that if a Canadian multinational corporation has a profit of, say, 100 million dollars in America, it will save them about $700,000 (that they would have paid to Canada) to relocate their offices to America, *in the first full year*.

    Never mind stopping the bleed, this will probably reverse some of those decisions to move. As a Canadian, I hate it.

    • Pennagain

      What about cost of living and doing business in general, though, HT? I’m guessing it would depend on which state? Then there are the plans for, for instance, Silicon Valley to hold on to all its (lower paid) foreign-born workers and create Canadian subsidiaries for them. …. Not that I blame you for hating the possibilities.

      • Well… Yeah. Look, Amazon is currently in a process where it has asked municipalities for proposals on why their city is the best for Amazon’s new distribution center. Cities across Canada and America will be submitting packages on how awesome their backyards are. Part of those packages will be tax rates, wage laws, and other assorted tidbits that you’d assume that companies would want to know before investing huge capital, the brown envelope full of money is probably about halfway through it. That companies look at more than just tax rates is obvious…

        But…. (And there’s always a but) it would be hard explaining certain acquisitions and movements without using the tax treaty as a primary variable. For instance, in December 2014, Burger King bought Tim Horton’s (A Canadian coffee chain) and moved their offices to Canada.

        That Burger King was aiming for a tax inversion was obvious. Progressives at the time were calling them traitors, conservatives were saying this was the effect of Obama’s tax policy (which is only half fair… sure Obama could have changed that, but neither Bush nor Clinton did much about the inversion problem either, and the business community knew very clearly what was going on. There were some naysayers who said that the primary reason for the acquisition was because Burger King thought applying parts of their business model to Tom Horton’s and taking advantage of economies of scale would net more profit… I mean, the base outcome there seems sort of obvious, but if that was all there was to it, there was no reason to relocate their offices to Ontario.

        My point, which I kind of took a roundabout way of putting it, is that often these inversions were cherries on the top, straws on the scales, if not outright reasons. The more foreign earnings a company has, the more incentive they have to move to countries with lower tax rates, but those savings still have to overcome the cost of their cover (They have to have locations in the country they’re moving to, and that often means acquisitions are necessary,) and the cost of filings (At the very least, they’ll have to run a (probably) off schedule year end.). If there wasn’t going to be a tax inversion, I have serious doubts that the BK/TH deal would have happened, period. But if it had, I think it’s less likely that BK would have relocated.

        • Pennagain

          Thanks for the rundown, HT. Makes things a bit more clear, in terms of economics. There’s employee relocation too – ambiance, weather, schools, (relative) safety and so on — I think Canada offers a lot of that … or at least Americans think it does.

  9. Mortgage interest deduction is just a realtor sales pitch scam. Every time you mention the expense of buying a house someone will shout at you, “You can deduct the interest!” Except no, you probably can’t.

    For the mortgage on a $250k house you’ll pay around $8-9k interest in the first year, and it goes down every year after that. That’s barely the same as the standard deduction for a single person, but if you have two incomes like most people you won’t pay all the interest yourself, and if you’re married the deduction is even higher. Chances are you won’t be able to get a bigger deduction from itemization, and if you do it will only be for the first few years of the loan at the most.

    So in order to benefit from interest deductions you either have to buy a house over $300k by yourself or over $500k if you’re married. In either case you probably are not an average income earner. Most people who benefit from this deduction are those who own multiple properties or are shuffling around ownership to maximize the benefits (accountant tricks, rich people buying houses for their kids, etc).

    In other words framing the tax bill as “tax cut for the rich” is opposite-Wednesday speech. The only real people who benefit from the deductions ARE the rich. Now they’re mad they’re losing a deduction. Boo hoo.

    • “The only real people who benefit from the deductions ARE the rich.”

      Ridiculous. Patently absurd.

      “For the mortgage on a $250k house you’ll pay around $8-9k interest in the first year,”

      And if you bought a $125k house, you’ll pay around $4000 in interest. The interest paid is relative to the loan, and so the deduction is too. Is the deduction lower at $4000 or $8000 than it is at $20,000? Sure. Duh. But it’s still money! If your tax rate is 20%, and you take a $4000 deduction, you get to keep $800. Period. If your tax rate is 20% and you take an $8000 deduction, you get to keep $1600. Period. I don’t know how out of touch you have to be to assume that $1600 is so immaterial to a middle class family so as to think it should not be considered a benefit.

      • Junkmailfolder

        His point is that it’s an itemized deduction, which for most people, especially middle class and lower, is less than the standard deduction. It’s true, unless someone has huge medical bills, a very large charitable contribution, etc.

        • His point is that it’s an itemized deduction, which for most people, especially middle class and lower, is less than the standard deduction. It’s true, unless someone has huge medical bills, a very large charitable contribution, etc.

          EVERY DOLLAR I KEEP IS A VICTORY.

          It is not hard to itemize more than the standard deduction: I do so every year, and have for decades. A few dollars to a charity or church each month; donating time, chattels, and food to the needy; qualifying for a home office; and yes, the mortgage interest deduction all add up.

          The notion that government is ‘allowing’ me to keep my take home pay is abhorrent, and what they spend it on is a stain on my soul, in many cases, only mitigated by the fact I have no choice, other than going to prison.

          And as a middle class family, we itemize everything we can legally and ethically. Why make the effort? Because WE earned the money, not some government bureaucrat leech, welfare couch potato, ruthless dictator who hates my country’s guts, illegal alien, or priest of Moloch.

          Who says these people have a right to my money? Those with guns, that’s who. So just like in Jesus’ time, we render unto Caesar his due and not a cent more!

          I propose that everyone who is against these tax cuts send their new found savings back to Washington DC. The IRS takes donations, and always has. If the extra money in your pocket bothers you, and you want government to spend more on programs you support, send it in!

          If progressives simply put their money where their votes are, Planned Parenthood would not need MY money. Welfare payments could be subsidized, with contributions from progressives eliminating poverty. If everyone who voted for Hillary just sent in a few hundred dollars (what they will likely save, give or take, under the new tax laws) the government would not run such a deficit!

          Hmmm, 66 million times $300 each is about 20 Billion… not a bad start. And $300 is such a little amount, in a year, to give your ideals, and your vote, meaning.

          I am not sanguine that progressives will invest their own money this way: they just want to steal bread from my children’s mouths so they can feel good about how they ‘care’ while doing nothing to actually make a difference.

          • “EVERY DOLLAR I KEEP IS A VICTORY.”

            This. This a million times over. I don’t think about myself as an accountant, I think about myself as a righteous crusader in the struggle against taxation. Every dollar I’m able to deduct away is a win. Because I like my money, I’d prefer to keep my money, and so should everyone else.

            • Junkmailfolder

              I admit, I’m confused by the tone of these responses.

              In no way am I advocating the government taking more of my money, nor do I think you shouldn’t do everything you can to legally minimise your tax burden every year.

              But the simple fact of the matter is most people cannot use the mortgage interest deduction to reduce taxes owed.

              • I was commenting from a misconception, I would have commented slightly differently had I known the American system was so different from the Canadian system. In Canada, and basically the rest of the world, we get our basic deduction, and then any other deductions we can get are deducted in addition to it, not instead of it.

                “But the simple fact of the matter is most people cannot use the mortgage interest deduction to reduce taxes owed.”

                The simple fact of the matter is that most people can’t even use the entirety of their basic deduction, because a little less than half of American households don’t pay tax, period. That groups of individuals, even majority groups of individuals, cannot take advantage of tax deductions is not a good reason not to have a deduction.

                Another simple fact of the matter is that if you own a home, you’re probably employed, and if you’re employed, you probably have health insurance, and between itemized deductions for mortgage interest, employment deductions, and health costs, you’re probably able to itemize your deductions to your benefit.

          • Great comment, slickwilly! I was waiting to see if someone else would say it…but, I guess I’ll have to be the one.

            Now it’s Trump’s (and Republicans’) turn to say – much like the previous president said, about one’s chosen doctor:
            “If you don’t like your tax cut, you don’t have to keep it.”

          • La Sylphide

            “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as
            possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the
            treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.
            Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister
            in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone
            does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any
            public duty to pay more than the law demands.” – Judge Learned Hand

            in the case of Gregory v. Helvering 69 F.2d 809, 810 (2d Cir. 1934), aff’d, 293 U.S. 465, 55 S.Ct. 266, 79 L.Ed. 596 (1935)

            This hung on the wall in the CPA firm I worked for. I (loosely) quote it often.

            • La Sylphide

              – sorry about the formatting. I suck at WordPress.

            • Put another way: It’s legal to avoid taxes, illegal to evade them.

              “There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.”

              Per the notoriously stingy Joe Biden ($369/year to charity during the last decade): “It’s patriotic to pay taxes.”

              Seems some of his colleagues (Timmy “TurboTax” Geithner, Charlie “I forget to pay that?” Rangel) and varied and sundry other Lefties (Al Sharpton, Joy Reid, Uncle Georgie Soros, Warren “SirTaxMeMore” Buffett, Melissa Harris-Perry, Touré Neblett, etc.) didn’t get the memo.

        • As a tax preparer it’s been my experience that the dividing line between itemizing and not has often been home ownership. it’s not only the mortgage interest but property taxes that often make the difference.

          That said, we’ll see how much this affects things. It is also my observation that Congressional tax policy since 1986 has been to keep reducing the number of people who itemize and make it more cost effective for people to take the standard deduction.

          By the way, i don’t recall offhand — was there a similar outcry in 1986 when the deduction for personal interest (e.g. credit cards) was eliminated?

  10. Mrs. Q

    http://taxplancalculator.com/

    According to this (roughly) anyone making $22,000 will see some savings.

  11. IN Other news, the UN just reminded us how useless it is.

  12. Jeff

    Jack, I am genuinely impressed that you managed to suss out the basic outline of what Hanks was trying to say in his word salad. Randomly selecting 30 words from a dictionary would likely be nearly as coherent as that mess.

  13. Chris

    With rhetoric like that, Hanks could run for president!

    You left out the best part of the newly passed tax bill, Jack: it eliminated Obamacare! He did it! (*Ron Howard voice* He didn’t actually do it.)

    “Obamacare has been repealed in this bill. We didn’t want to bring it up. I told people specifically, ‘Be quiet with the fake-news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it.’ Because I didn’t know how people would —.” Trump didn’t finish that thought, but he said he could admit what had been done “now that it’s approved.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/20/politics/donald-trump-thinks-he-tricked-everyone-into-repealing-obamacare/index.html

    Reflect on that statement by the president: He’s saying he told people not to say that the bill repealed Obamacare, which he thought was the truth but isn’t, because the “fake news” media would then report what he thought was the truth, and he didn’t want the fake news media to tell the truth. But it isn’t the truth; he is, once again, spreading fake news while at the same time condemning fake news.

    • And like a lot of Trump’s blather, it’s meaningless and only harms him and his credibility. But it gives the media something to fulminate about rather than dealing with substance. He might as ell say that he’s an albino pangolin or ate the moon. I’m interested in what he does; by 2005 I knew that what he said wasn’t worth my time. Occasionally what he says is worth dissecting because he’s not the only one, or because the words are also conduct. Not this time.

      • Chris

        He might as ell say that he’s an albino pangolin or ate the moon.

        No, see, then he’d actually be so mentally unfit that we would have no choice but to remove him from office. (I hope you’d agree that such statements would leave us no choice.)

        Simply saying that he’s undone his predecessor’s signature achievement when he hasn’t isn’t enough to cross that line.

        What it *does* mean is that he is ethically estopped from ever using the phrase “fake news.”

        • Jeff

          Not respecting his choice to identify as an albino pangolin is an act of violence.

        • Why do you hate melanin deprived, trans-species people, Chris?

        • I think it’s yet another nail in the coffin though. You’re right, of course, Trump should be more precise. He probably is ethically estopped from calling other people liars in much the same way Huckabee Sanders should never have considered telling Lieu to “tweet less” (Christ almighty… I just wrote all those words, in that order, on purpose….). But we know that he won’t become better spoken, and we know that he won’t stop banging the drums of Fake News.

          You know what they say about the definition of insanity, right?

          Regardless, on the topic of the ACA… The article you used said this:

          “This first sentence is sort of true. While no part of the law has been repealed — Republicans tried and failed, repeatedly, to “repeal” the law — they did zero out the tax, or fine, levied against people who do not secure health insurance under the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

          What will happen as a result? CNN’s Tami Luhby recently wrote: “The Congressional Budget Office predicts that four million fewer people would be covered in the first year the repeal would take effect. That number would rise to 13 million by 2027, as compared to current law. Meanwhile, premiums would rise by about 10% in most years of the decade.””

          Well… First off… If all premiums rose was 10%, I think the average American would break down doors to get at that plan. I’m just saying.

          But more than that: How DARE those icky republicans stop taxing poor people for not buying expensive ACA-compliant insurance on failing exchanges? Don’t they know that if people choose not to be extorted into something, they might not do it!?!?

          • Isaac

            Yes to this. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills when a supposedly-respectable news source laments that people will “lose coverage” when they literally mean that a segment of the population will CHOOSE NOT TO BUY COVERAGE WHEN NO LONGER BEING FORCED TO DO SO BY UNCLE SAM. It’s actually jarring that we have so many willing totalitarians in our midst, reading us the news as they prefer to frame it.

      • Chris marschner

        Jack, you are correct that the bill did not repeal Obamacare. We all know what he meant. By eliminating the mandate the bill may have giving the ACA an unceremonious death faster than with the mandate. The health of the ACA will depend on how many people voluntarily sign up next year. Nothing in the bill eliminates the subsidies offerred under ACA but the issue of of these subsidies’ Constitutionality is to be determined soon.

        If many choose a non subsidized but lower cost product because of the repeal of the mandate then subsidy costs could fall or rise depending on how hard the government works to prop up the insurance carriers pushing the ACA qualified plans.

        Just as a repeal of the mandate does not mean the ACA is repealed it also does not mean that millions of Americans will lose health care as suggested by Pelosi, Cardin, Hoyer, and Schumer because of the tax bill

        • Chris

          This wasn’t a healthcare bill. Certainly sneaking in the repeal of the individual mandate into a tax bill, while intentionally keeping it hush-hush so that the “fake news” media can’t report honestly on it, is unethical.

          • More or less ethical than having to pass a bill to find out whats in it?

            Look, you aren’t wrong. This should have been done above board. But I find myself not caring so much… The more I read about the tax reform, the more it seems like a good move. Even the people criticizing it have to pretend that they care about things they never cared about before. Democrats talking about deficit spending is adorable.

            • It’s like watching a dog try to walk around in booties for the first time. They know how to walk, and they’ve seen you walk around in socks and shoes, so they know it’s possible, but they don’t quite have the technique down pat yet, so they’re awkward and cute when they don’t look a little bit like they want to chew off their leg to escape their misery.

              Yeah, that’s how Democrats look talking about deficits as anything less than sage necessity.

              • Chris

                The last two Democrat administrations brought down the deficit.

                • Clinton was not a particularly progressive Democrat, especially from an economic standpoint and Obama might have taken the deficit down from 1.4 trillion to 600 billion… But he still doubled the debt, and Democrats didn’t blink.

                  I also wonder what more he might have done had the Republicans not been so belligerent. During the sequester, the American Federal government still found half a million dollars to fund a study on the anatomy of duck penises. Not making that up. Google it. The government put blockages up in front of national parks, because they couldn’t possibly have people walk through them, but they were able to dig deep so as to pay some guys to measure duck cocks with a ruler.

                  • Chris

                    I’m not sure what your objection to research on evolutionary biology during a sequester has to do with the subject. You suggested that it was hypocritical for Democrats to criticize Republicans on the deficit. Given that the past two Democrat administrations lowered the deficit, this is not so.

                    Btw: here’s a defense from the duck penis scientist.

                    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/04/duck_penis_controversy_nsf_is_right_to_fund_basic_research_that_conservatives.html

                    • These comments of yours only make sense if you ignore the last decade or so of so of political discourse.

                      Time after time, the Obama administration trotted out a budget, and time after time, the Republicans tried to claw it back, and then time after time the usual Democratic suspects went out and called the deficit a moral imperative.

                      Even suggesting that Obama was good on deficit spending is borderline offensive. Previous to the year before he took office, the American deficit had never been much more than 400 billion, and then came the 2007 financial crisis and the 2008 stimulus act. Now, I won’t pretend that stimulus act is Obama’s problem, but the idea that his actions over the course of a decade… Cutting the deficit down from 1.4 trillion dollars (3.5x the previous high water mark) to Merely 600 billion (1.5x the previous high water mark) somehow showed that he was tough on deficit spending is pure revisionism. During his tenure the deficits added about 7 trillion dollars to the debt, more than doubling it. At some point, using the Bush stimulus package became an out: “Why can’t we add hundreds of billions of dollars to the debt? They did, and it’s better than last year!”

                      If there’s an angle you should approach this with, it isn’t that Democrats aren’t filling their nappies full of hypocrisy, it’s that Republicans are probably adding to the deficit, and after an entire administration railing at numbers, that’s also hypocritical.

                      I’m mean, I don’t know if you’re right, we’ll see what happens, but the CBO and history at least back that up.

                    • And why do I hate the idea of spending a half million dollars so someone can play with duck penises? Because they spent a half million dollars playing with duck penises. I’m sure that the very indignant scientist was very concerned about wasteful government spending, which might be why his defense of his work was so lukewarm:

                      “Whether the government should fund basic research in times of economic crisis is a valid question that deserves well-informed discourse comparing all governmental expenses.”

                      Starts off good!

                      “As a scientist, my view is that supporting basic and applied research is essential to keep the United States ahead in the global economy.”

                      Of course it is. Just file this away for later though.

                      “The government cannot afford not to make that investment. In fact, I argue that research spending should increase dramatically for the United States to continue to lead the world in scientific discovery.”

                      (The government can’t afford not to pay my team a half million dollars to study duck penises, because we need to show the world how sciencey we are!)

                      “Investment in the NSF is just over $20 per year per person, while it takes upward of $2,000 per year per person to fund the military.”

                      Brother has a point about military spending, I’d love to see America decommission some of the 38 active military bases they have in Germany, or the 90 facilities they have in Japan. But “You spend more on X” isn’t a great argument to spend anything on Y.

                      “Basic research has to be funded by the government rather than private investors because there are no immediate profits to be derived from it.”

                      (Basic research HAS to be funded by the government, because it makes no money, but the government CAN’T AFFORD not to fund us, because then we wouldn’t know how duck penises work.)

          • Junkmailfolder

            But according to Justice Roberts, the individual mandate is a tax, and hence belongs in a tax bill.

          • Chris Marschner

            Both the ACA and this bill were passed under budget reconciliation.

          • Jeff

            The only way that the individual mandate survived Supreme Court scrutiny was by contorting and twisting to define the non-compliance penalty as a “tax”. If it’s really a tax, then repealing it in a tax bill is absolutely appropriate.

    • Chris marschner

      Chris. Read the article you linked to. How does an elimination of the mandate cause 4 million to lose health insurance next year and as many as 27 million within 10 years unless they choose to stop enrolling. The subsidies have not yet been ruled unconstitutional. That may be determined later next year.

      If giving people a choice is bad then why give them any choices. Every act or non-act can be demonstrated to impact another party. If you care so deeply about the financial impact of regressive taxes on the less fortunate I want to see you rail against excise taxes on products or lotteries that are disproportionately paid for by low income households.

      • Jeff

        By removing the mandate to purchase ACA-approved health plans, won’t this open up the market for people to purchase other plans that may meet their needs better (and be more affordable)? I have no need for maternity coverage or substance abuse coverage, for example. Now insurance companies can return to offering me plans that omit such coverage, and I won’t have to pay the IRS a penalty for choosing one. If anything, killing the mandate should provide more options in the market.

        Yes, some people will forego coverage without the mandate, but that’s an option they’re voluntarily electing to choose. They’re not “losing” health insurance any more than I’m “losing” a new car when I drive past the dealership without buying one.

      • Isaac

        “How does an elimination of the mandate cause 4 million to lose health insurance next year and as many as 27 million within 10 years unless they choose to stop enrolling?”

        That is the unanswerable question.

        Considering the “success” of Obamacare in the eyes of many simply because it raises the number of “covered” people on paper (and despite the fact that just about everyone in real life hates it), I now propose that in 2021 President Bernie Sanders end hunger by making eating food mandatory. Everyone purchase $100 of groceries per week, or you’ll be fined, I mean, taxed, I mean, whatever I can legally call it, $100,000 at the end of the year by the IRS. (Non-citizens, the homeless, and other non-taxpayers exempt, of course, from the penalty. We’re not cruel.) We can call it BernieFood.

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