Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: cutting

What’s in the GOP Tax Bill?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 6, 2017:

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

The GOP tax reform bill presented last Thursday attempts to be “revenue neutral” within 10 years. By giving most of the cuts to corporate taxpayers, there’s precious little left for the middle class to enjoy. The problem is not only the mathematics — trying to match the “give” with the “take” — but the politics: Democrats will work to scuttle any attempt to relieve fiscal pressure on entrepreneurs (i.e., capitalists) who are largely carrying the burden of supporting the government. Absent any attempt to cut spending — the tax bill’s 429 pages offer little help with that — what’s left, as has been said, is simply moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic.

First,

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Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Pence, Trump to cut UN Funding, give it to USAID Instead

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, October 30, 2017: 

US National Security Memorandum: paramount imp...

First attributed to St. Jerome (400 AD) is “Noli equi dentes inspirere donati” which, roughly translated, means: Don’t look too closely at a gift you received for you might be disappointed. Just be grateful you got the gift. That’s how those supporting the movement to “Get the US out of the UN, and the UN out of the United States” must feel hearing VP Mike Pence speak last Wednesday night. He was addressing the Solidarity Dinner sponsored by In Defense of Christians in Washington, D.C. when he announced that the Trump administration was going to be cutting funding to the United Nations:

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Treasury Department: $666 Billion Deficit; Sixth-highest in History

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 23, 2017:  

The federal government ran a deficit of $666 billion in 2017, reported the U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday, thanks mainly to increases in budget items that supposedly can’t be cut: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the national debt. In addition, military spending is due for substantial increases under the Trump administration.

Translation:

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Herb Stein, Meet Mick Mulvaney

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, October 23, 2017: 

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Mick Mulvaney

University of Virginia professor Herbert Stein, the father of Ben Stein of Ferris Bueller fame, was known as a pragmatic conservative. But he is best known for his cryptic expression, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

Mick Mulvaney’s hopeful outlook hasn’t yet been tarnished by his experience in Washington. Serving as a member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina prior to accepting the position of President Trump’s Director of Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney really thinks, based on his public statements, that things really can go on forever. All that is needed is a little tweaking: “We need to grow our economy again and get our fiscal house in order. We can do that through smart spending restraint, tax reform, and cutting red tape.”

A closer look at the size of that fiscal deficit, however, reveals Mr. Mulvaney’s naiveté: on Thursday the Treasury Department announced that the deficit for the fiscal year that ended on September 30 was

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Many Surprises in Latest Jobless Claims Report

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 19, 2017:

The first surprise from the latest jobless claims statistics is that new claims for unemployment insurance benefits last week fell to the lowest level in 44 years, according to the Department of Labor (DOL): “The advance figure … was 222,000 … the lowest level for initial claims since March 31, 1973.”

The second surprise is that the number of continuing claims (those lasting more than a week) also fell to levels not seen since 1974.

The third surprise is

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Sessions Links Chicago’s Mayor to City’s Crime, Calls Him a Dictator

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 18, 2017:  

This map shows the incorporated and unincorpor...

This map shows the incorporated and unincorporated areas in Miami-Dade County, Florida,

The decibel level in the war of words between Trump’s AG Jeff Sessions and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel reached painful heights on Wednesday. At issue is illegal immigration, and harboring illegals or deporting them. The underlying issue is the conflict of power between the federal government and the states.

The Federalist considered the issue and concluded that immigration, legal or illegal, was a concern only of the states, and of no concern to the national government:

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Warehouse Automation Causes Employment to Increase?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 4, 2017:

Image of Autonomous Robot From Second Grand Ch...

Image of Autonomous Robot From Second Grand Challenge Advancing to Urban Challenge.

The crux of the anti-capitalist cabal’s complaint about the robotic revolution taking place all across the country is this: since robots can do anything that a human can do, everyone’s job is on the chopping block. So how do they explain the simple bald fact that warehousing jobs – where much of the robotic revolution is taking place – have increased? A year ago there were 867,300 people employed in warehousing. Today that number is approaching 950,000. And Apple is looking to add thousands more. How is that possible?

Part of the answer of course is

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Food Stamp Dependency Dropping

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 24, 2017:

English: Logo of the .

In its report released last week the USDA reported that SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the old food stamp program – is shrinking, a little. In 2016, 44 million Americans and immigrants (legal and illegal) took advantage of taxpayers’ largess, costing them $71 billion. In 2010, there were 47 million receiving SNAP benefits costing taxpayers closer to $80 billion.

The program, which began in 1969, has virtually exploded, from just 2.9 million beneficiaries that year (costing taxpayers a paltry $250 million) to a peak of 47.6 million in 2013, which cost taxpayers $79.9 billion.

Part of the shrinkage is due to

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Trump’s Growth Target Reduced to 3 Percent

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 17, 2017:  

For Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s director of his Office of Management and Budget (OMB), reality is setting in. On the campaign trail Trump repeatedly promised four percent growth in the GDP (gross domestic product): “We’re bringing it from 1 percent up to 4 percent. And I actually think we can go higher than 4 percent. I think you can go to 5 percent or 6 percent.” (October, 2016). Later that month he doubled down during a speech to an audience in North Carolina: “I’m going to get us to 4 percent growth and create 25 million jobs over a 10-year period.”

Mulvaney’s editorial in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday was unapologetic: “We are promoting MAGAnomics — and that means sustained 3 percent growth.” This new tag, which incorporates the acronym for “Make America Great Again,” is a play on “Reaganomics” from the 1980s:

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Will Mulvaney Have Any More Success with MAGAnomics than Stockman did with Reaganomics?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 17, 2017:

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Mick Mulvaney.

After serving in the House as a Republican representative from Michigan, David Stockman served as President Ronald Reagan’s OMB director from January 1981 until he quit 4½ years later in frustration. He got half of Reaganomics passed – the tax reduction part. He failed in getting the other half passed – the government spending cut part.

Mick Mulvaney is now Trump’s OMB Director after serving in the House as a Republican from South Carolina. And his job is likely to be as difficult and frustrating as was Stockman’s.

It’s far too soon to speculate about Mulvaney.

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Illinois Sends “Dear Contractor” Letters Ordering Them to Stop All Road Construction

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 15, 2017: 

English: A photograph of the Springfield Capit...

A photograph of the Springfield Capitol Building

Illinois contractors working on the state’s roads just received a “Dear Contractor” letter from the state ordering them to halt work because the state is out of money to pay them:

At this time appropriate funding is not available after June 30, 2017. Thus, work shall cease effective June 30, 2017.

Please bring all projects to a condition that will provide a clear and safely traveled way….

On July 1, 2017, all work shall cease except for maintenance.… The department will notify you when work may resume.

Right now the state has $14.5 billion in unpaid bills, an increase of nearly $4 billion just since the end of December, with no end in sight. When Republican Governor Bruce Rauner took office in January 2015, he promised he would bring order out of chaos by

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Maine’s Cut in Its Welfare Rolls a Model for Trump

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 31, 2017: 

As predictable as the sunrise, the Obama administration was outraged over Maine’s SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) reform instituted in late 2014, and even threatened to cut off some federal funding if it went ahead with it. To his credit Governor Paul LePage signed the bill anyway.

What happened next is historic.

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Schumer, Pelosi Celebrate Stop-gap Government Spending Bill

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 1, 2017: 

After debating hundreds of items in the stop-gap government spending bill to fund the government through September, congressional leaders birthed a beast that rejected nearly all of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises.

On Sunday night Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gushed: “This is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table.” He made sure that everyone took note that most of Trump’s priorities were rejected: “The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fund an ineffective wall, excludes [160] poison pill riders [offered by Republicans], and increases investments in programs that [Republicans resisted but] that the middle-class relies on, like medical research, education and infrastructure.”

California Democrat Representative Nancy Pelosi was delighted to see a provision included that would require the U.S. taxpayer to bail out Puerto Rico to the tune of $295 million, calling it Medicare relief rather than a bailout:

From the beginning, Democrats have sought to avert another destructive Republican government shutdown, and we have made significant progress improving [this] omnibus bill.

Bloomberg, in its reporting, couldn’t restrain itself: “GOP leaders … bowed to Democratic demands to eliminate hundreds of policy restrictions aimed at curbing regulations, leaving the Trump administration with few victories.”

When two big-spending, Constitution-ignoring liberal Democrats get excited about a government spending bill, one knows something is dreadfully amiss.

The White House sought $30 billion for the Pentagon. It got just $15 billion, with $2.5 billion of it on a conditional basis. The White House wanted funding for the wall. It got $1.5 billion for “border security” but with the proviso that none of it be spent on the wall.

The White House has promised to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood got an increase. The White House wanted to cut funding to sanctuary cities. That was rejected. Those cities will get their federal funds. It wanted to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health. The NIH got a $2 billion boost. The White House has promised to cut the EPA’s budget. It got millions more in funding, along with a promise that there would be no staff cuts.

The White House has stated it wanted cuts to the Energy Department. Instead, the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — which funds experimental energy research and has been targeted for elimination by the White House — got millions more to spend instead.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities? They got increases.

In addition, more than 70 items that Bloomberg called “anti-environment policy riders” were scrapped.

Most annoying to those thinking that the new president would actually be keeping his promises was his statement that he would sign the bill if it arrives at his desk “as we discussed.” That could happen as early as Wednesday.

Perhaps the president is making a deal? Give up a little now in order to press for more later? After all, the bill, once signed, would only fund the government through September. The 2018 budget is still a work in progress.

Or is he going along to get along, not wanting to have the Democrats hang the “shutdown the government again” albatross around the Republican Party neck?

Or is he betraying his promises to his constituents in order to get “something, anything” about which he can claim victory during the early days of his administration.

He is the president, after all, and still has plenty of political capital that he could invest in keeping his promises. Why wouldn’t he consider vetoing the bill rather than folding, especially when it contains odious pro-death funding for Planned Parenthood? Wouldn’t this be a good time for him to stand tall and reject the bill, unless and until it reflects his promises and policies? Wouldn’t this be the time, as Ron Paul just said, “to shut down most of the federal government, starting with bringing the troops home and drastically cutting the military-industrial complex’s budget?”

Or has the president been assimilated by The Borg — the powers-that-be in Washington — and just decided that “resistance is futile” and that he’ll be happy that the cuts to his projects and priorities weren’t even worse?

Trump Floats Trial Balloon on Tax Reform; Wants Feedback

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 26, 2017:

Initially referred to as a statement of general principles, the one-page summary of the Trump administration’s tax reform plan looked more like a trial balloon. Said the White House, the administration “will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input … [in order to] develop the details of a plan that … can pass both chambers.”

Reiterating Trump’s goals of growing the economy, creating millions of jobs, simplifying the tax code, and providing tax relief to middle-income families, the trial balloon as summarized would

lower the corporate tax rate from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, including Subchapter S or “pass-through” corporations;

 

reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three: 10%, 25% and 35%, depending on income;

 

double the standard deduction, currently at $6,300 for individuals and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly;

 

expand tax relief to families with child and dependent care expenses;

 

eliminate various tax breaks that apply mainly to the wealthiest taxpayers;

 

keep mortgage interest and charitable deductions while eliminating deductions for state income taxes paid;

 

repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT);

 

repeal the 3.8% ObamaCare tax that hits small businesses and investment income;

 

allow a one-time “tax holiday” for international corporations holding trillions overseas; and

 

eliminate tax breaks for special interests.

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called it “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” while his Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said the plan represented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really big.”

What’s really big is the potential deficits Trump’s plan could cause, with at least one critic estimating that it would result in $6 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years.

The underlying goal of the administration being pushed by Trump is that by cutting these tax rates the economy would awake from its slumber and start generating three percent annual rates of growth of the nation’s GDP. Although the Laffer Curve was not mentioned by Mnuchin or economist Stephen Moore (in his recent critique of the government’s economic outlook), it’s the same principle: lower tax rates to result in higher economic growth which will (in theory) result in higher taxes collected by the government.

The increase in the standard deduction is also designed to allow an estimated 27 million Americans who file a long form listing their mortgage interest and charitable deductions to use a “big postcard” instead. This “simplification” of the tax code has long been a stated goal of Trump as candidate and his administration after he was inaugurated in January.

Wednesday’s announcement is just the opening salvo in what promises to be a long war before anything reaches Trump’s desk. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling it a gift for the already-wealthy Americans who don’t need any more tax breaks. And Mnuchin referred to the Senate strategy of “reconciliation” that is likely to be needed to pass the Senate without Democrat votes. He noted that he hoped that the bill that finally passes Congress and is signed into law by the president will be permanent, but “if we have them for [just] 10 years, that’s better than nothing.”

Reconciliation would allow Republicans to pass it without a single Democrat vote, but would also cause the plan to expire in 10 years if it generates deficits. This is what happened to the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush. When the projected revenue growth didn’t meet expectations, his tax cuts for the most part were automatically ended.

The obstacles are substantial, including determined if futile resistance from Democrats and complaints from the energy industry which might see its depletion allowance deductions cut or removed in Trump’s final bill. Those details will be revealed in June and could also negatively impact heavily-indebted public utilities and cable companies that might see some loss of their interest deductions.

On the other hand, winners could include companies that are currently most negatively impacted by high corporate rates in force, including engineering and construction companies, food wholesalers, publishers, and retailers.

The old proverb applies as Trump’s trial balloon gets translated into specific language in the tax reform bill in June: “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” A newer one is this from Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research and Trading, who has been following these events closely:

The sugar high of tax cut headlines could turn into a nagging headache once stakeholders return to the painstaking consideration of process and pay-fors.

Trump’s Hiring Freeze Moves From Hatchet to Scalpel

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 12, 2017:

English: Logo of the US Environmental Protecti...

When Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), announced on Tuesday the lifting of the president’s hiring freeze effective Wednesday, he used medical terminology: “What we’re doing is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze [the hatchet] and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan [the scalpel].”

In his first full day in office, newly inaugurated President Trump announced a 90-day hiring freeze that applied to all executive branch agencies, to be followed by a plan from each of those agencies as to how they will be reformed to run more efficiently. Since his OMB director wasn’t confirmed until nearly a month later, that “reform recommendation” timeline has been pushed back to June for initial drafts and September for final recommendations.

The new timeline also fits with President Trump’s budget recommendations that include

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Fitch Knocks Saudi Arabia’s Credit Rating Down Another Notch

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 22, 2017:

Fitch Ratings downgraded Saudi Arabia’s credit rating again on Wednesday, bringing it perilously close to “speculative,” from “investment grade.” It dropped the country’s long-term credit rating from A+ to AA-, but with a “stable” outlook, noting that the reduction was due to the country’s “continued deterioration of public and external balance sheets.”

Fitch sees what both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, the other two global credit rating agencies, see: declining oil prices hurting a country that once enjoyed the highest investment grade ratings thanks to high oil prices that not only paid for extravagant welfare programs and subsidies to its citizens but allowed it to accumulate three-quarters of a trillion dollars in foreign reserves — more than ample to ride out any conceivable storm.

The rating agencies have seen that an inconceivable storm arrived in 2014 when

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More Evidence that OPEC’s Influence is Waning

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 22, 2017:

A measure of the success – and failure – of OPEC’s agreement to limit crude oil production can be seen in the chart of NYMEX crude oil price behavior (Sources below) dating from last fall. When the agreement was inked back in November, crude was at $46.50 a barrel. The price soared and traders got excited, putting in long bets that set records.

By early January, reality began setting in as compliance among the cartel’s members and non-members (who agreed to go along for the ride) began to wane. The roof fell in a couple of weeks ago when inventory builds continued to set records, and the price dropped through support at $50.

In other words, in OPEC’s attempt to birth an elephant, it succeeded in birthing a gnat.

Saudi Arabia maintained a stiff upper lip during the Houston oil conference, stating flat out that

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Trump’s “Blueprint” Budget Is a Policy Statement; Real Budget to Follow

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 16, 2017:

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Mick Mulvaney. Trump’s OMB Director

President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) unveiled “America First — A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” on Thursday, noting that the president’s actual budget will be released in May. President Trump and his OMB Director Mick Mulvaney joined in outlining the “blueprint” without disclosing hard numbers, revenue projections, or even an economic outlook to back it up. It was, in other words, a policy statement, with details to follow.

Said Trump:

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Trump’s 2018 Budget Won’t Touch Social Security, Medicare

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 27, 2017:

English: The standard Laffer Curve

The standard Laffer Curve

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News on Sunday that cuts in entitlement programs — i.e., Social Security and Medicare — won’t appear in the president’s budget: “We are not touching those now. So don’t expect to see that as part of this budget, OK? We are very focused on other aspects and that’s what’s very important to us.”

Trump’s budget for fiscal year 2018 (starting October 1, 2017) is expected to be presented to the House on Monday, March 13, just two weeks away. And there are a lot of moving parts that must be glued into place before then.

Those parts include

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Americans, Europeans Agree: Trump Is Right on Immigration

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 13, 2017:

English: Nigel Farage at Lord's cricket ground...

Nigel Farage

A poll by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA, also known as Chatham House), the British sister organization to our Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), taken a month before President Donald Trump issued his temporary suspension on refugees, showed widespread and increasing support among Europeans for his actions. Across all 10 of the European countries polled, 55 percent of those polled agreed that all further immigration from “mainly Muslim” countries should be stopped while only 20 percent disagreed. In no country did those disagreeing exceed 32 percent.

The results were “striking and sobering,”

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.