Undocumented Immigrant Acquitted in Death of “Beautiful Kate,” a Case Trump Used as Anti-Immigration Rallying Cry
A San Francisco jury, on Thursday, found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a homeless undocumented immigrant, not guilty for the 2015 shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle. The timing and specifics of Steinle’s tragic death catapulted the case into the national spotlight as a cause célèbre for then-candidate Donald Trump, who seized upon the death of “beautiful Kate,” as he referred to her on the stump. Languishing in seventh behind his Republican competitors at the time, just two weeks into his campaign, Trump used Garcia Zarate’s past—he had been deported from the U.S. five times and had seven felony convictions, including drug charges—as proof of his campaign’s anti-immigrant operating thesis.
“For Donald Trump, we were just what he needed—beautiful girl, San Francisco, illegal immigrant, arrested a million times, a violent crime and yadda, yadda, yadda,” Steinle’s mother, Liz Sullivan, told the San Francisco Chronicle months after her daughter’s death. “We were the perfect storm for that man.” The fact that San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, months before the shooting, had refused to tell federal immigration officials when undocumented Garcia Zarate was to be released from jail made it a touchstone in the national debate on sanctuary cities.
Despite the national political implications, the San Francisco jury was charged with a more discreet task of criminal culpability for Steinle’s death. Steinle, a medical equipment saleswoman, was out for a July afternoon walk with her dad on San Francisco’s Pier 14 when she was struck in the back by a single bullet. The bullet, shot from a stolen gun, ricocheted off the concrete before striking Steinle. Garcia Zarate admitted to accidentally firing the gun.
The case came down to a question of intent. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco prosecutors told the Superior Court jury that Garcia Zarate intentionally brought the gun to the pier that day with the intent of doing harm, aimed the gun toward Steinle and pulled the trigger. [The] Assistant District Attorney [-] spent much of the trial seeking to prove the gun that killed Steinle couldn’t have fired without a firm pull of the trigger, while establishing that Garcia Zarate tossed the weapon into the bay before fleeing the scene — an implication of his guilt, she said.
Defense lawyers said the shooting was an accident that happened when Garcia Zarate, who had a history of drug crimes but no record of violence, found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt or cloth under his seat on the pier just seconds before it discharged in his hands. Matt Gonzalez of the public defender’s office said his client had never handled a gun and was scared by the noise, prompting him to fling the weapon into the bay, where a diver fished it out a day later.
The jury considered first-degree and second-degree murder charges, as well as involuntary manslaughter charges against Garcia Zarate, but, after six days of deliberation, found the 45-year-old Mexican citizen guilty only of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Today's Impeach-O-Meter: Is It Good Politics to Help Rich People Buy More Yachts?
The Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.
There's some drama going on right now involving the details, but it looks like all 52 Republican Senators want to pass a version of the Republican tax cut bill. (The House has already passed its own.) While the bill is subject to further revision and is quite complicated, here are some statements and consensus predictions about it which we can be fairly confident in:
- It will cut taxes for many/most households across all income ranges in the near term.
- It will raise taxes for many middle class households in the long term.
- It will cut taxes for corporations and "pass-through" business owners in all terms.
- It will raise the deficit by $1.5 trillion, which will trigger various automatic and indirect cuts to social spending.
- Its benefits to corporations will generally be passed on to stockholders (rather than passed on to workers in the form of higher wages).
- On the whole and on average, the bill benefits wealthier households by taking from poorer ones, cutting social spending, and creating debt.
Assuming it passes, how does this play out politically? Few voters will be paying higher taxes right away because of it, so there probably won't be an immediate/reflexive pocketbook backlash. The economy is also doing well enough on a macro level right now; if that continues, the GOP can say the tax bill helped.
On the other hand, the long-term reality (or at least the reality experienced by everyone except right-wing-media consumers who would never be persuaded to vote Democrat anyway) will likely be that taxes go down on the wealthy while the deficit goes up by a lot and wages stay flat. This fits nicely into the Democrats' emerging message about an oligarchy of corporations and idle rich people sucking up money that should be going to actual working Americans; meanwhile, it seems like it should undercut Trump's vaunted populist appeal to blue-collar middle American swing voters. Initial polling has moreover found the bill, at this point, to be historically unpopular. Raise the meter!
Today’s meter level is up two points.
Drama on the Senate Floor as Tax Bill Hits a Snag
Around 5 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, as the Senate was voting for a third time on a Democratic motion to send the Republican tax bill back to the Finance Committee, a reporter came out from the sparsely populated press gallery and noted how odd it was that several Republicans were withholding their votes. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who had yet to register his vote, was holding court in the well of the chamber surrounded by the entire leadership team, who didn’t look happy. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson had also refrained from voting.
Soon, the gallery was mobbed. Though Republicans eventually got their way on the motion, it was only after a tense half hour of discussions between competing factions.
A bill that once seemed primed to sail through the Senate suddenly has a problem.
Surrounding Corker on the Senate floor were leadership figures like Sens. Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John Barrasso, and John Thune. But Corker spent much of the time arguing with Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Toomey, an ardent supply-sider who’s been frustrated with Corker’s efforts to install a “trigger” to recoup revenue if the tax bill doesn’t vastly grow the economy. Other members, like Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman came in and out of the huddle. Corker at one point walked over to the Democratic side to speak with Maine Sen. Angus King, on whose motion they were voting. McConnell separately walked over to Johnson, who has his own set of concerns with the bill.
The telling moment was when Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, joined the discussion and began to answer their many questions.
The problem with the bill is the “trigger,” Cornyn confirmed once the vote was finished. It is worth noting that the public still has not seen any iteration of this “trigger” that Corker and Flake have been devising. But it may not matter anymore: The trigger, Cornyn said, has been disallowed by the parliamentarian under the Byrd Rule, which governs what’s allowed to pass with just 50 votes under reconciliation rules.
“It doesn’t look like the trigger’s going to work, according to the parliamentarian,” Cornyn told a flood of reporters when he exited the chamber. “So we have an alternative—frankly, a tax increase that we don’t want to do—to try to address Sen. Corker’s concerns.”
Cornyn added, later, that the poor dynamic score the Joint Committee on Taxation had released earlier in the day, which showed the tax cuts wouldn’t nearly pay for themselves, was Corker’s impetus. Corker “latched on” to those numbers, he said. When I had seen Cornyn earlier in the afternoon, he told me that committee's score was "pretty clearly wrong." Corker, it seems, disagreed.
In other words, to appease the deficit hawks and satisfy the parliamentarian, Republicans may have to formally include a tax increase into the bill, perhaps toward the end of the bill's 10-year window. It’s unclear whether those increases would be corporate or individual taxes, or some combination. Either comes with problems. If a tax increase on corporations is levied in five or so years, corporations will gripe about how this lack of “certainty” frightens them from making any investments. If the tax increase is put on individuals... then Republicans are putting a tax increase on individuals. (In addition to the one they’re already facing in the current version of the bill, which allows the individual cuts to sunset.)
Most Republicans will argue that these additional tax increases would never see the light of day, because they will just erase them later—when Corker and Flake are retired. That may or may not be true. But that caveat won't show up in ugly distribution tables showing tax increases down the road, and it certainly won't blunt a harmful talking point heading into next year's midterms.
Pelosi Calls on Conyers to Resign
Over a week after BuzzFeed first reported sexual harassment claims against Michigan Congressman John Conyers, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and three other top Democrats have called on him to resign. From the New York Times:
“The allegations against Mr. Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters. “It is very sad. The brave women who came forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well.
“However,” she added, “Congressman Conyers should resign.”
Minutes later, Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin told reporters he agreed that Mr. Conyers should quit.
In an appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday, Pelosi initially defended Conyers, calling him an “icon”, and refused to say she believed his accusers. “I don’t know who they are,” she told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “Do you? They have not really come forward.” Conyers has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by over half a dozen women and other employees, including the signers of affidavits submitted to the Congressional Office of Compliance and acquired by BuzzFeed.
Pelosi’s turnaround comes as Conyers has reportedly been hospitalized for “dizziness and shortness of breath” induced by reporting about the allegations against him, according to aides who initially rebuffed questions from reporters about his condition and have yet to elaborate on his whereabouts. “When asked where Conyers was hospitalized,” the Detroit Free Press’ Kathleen Grey wrote Thursday afternoon, "[Conyers attorney Arnold] Reed declined to reveal the location and said, ‘The same place where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.’” Those aides say Conyers is not ready to resign. “Nancy Pelosi did not elect the congressman and she sure as hell won't be the one to tell the congressman to leave," Reed told reporters following Pelosi’s announcement. "That decision will be completely up to the congressman. He's not thought about that.” Conyers’ open defenders in Congress include the Congressional Black Caucus, whose chair Cedric Richmond said Wednesday that the Caucus is “not urging” him to resign, even after CNN reported Tuesday that several members were working behind the scenes to convince Conyers to step aside.
An ethics investigation into the allegations against Conyers began last Tuesday. Conyers stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday and it was reported Wednesday that he will not seek reelection.
Cook Political Reports rates Conyer’s Detroit area district as one of the most Democratic in the country; whenever Conyers does ultimately vacate his seat, he will almost certainly be replaced by another Democrat. He has been in Congress since 1965. Democratic leaders in Congress have nevertheless until now bristled at the suggestion that it might be time for Conyers, accused of fondling staffers and funding flights for his lovers at taxpayer expense, to go. In a piece Sunday, Vox’s Laura McGann argued that Pelosi’s initial defense of Conyers was a betrayal of women remarkable amidst the wave of stories regarding sexual abuse by powerful men. “Last year, Pelosi joked about a flap between Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton, repeating Albright’s famous line: ‘There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women,’” she wrote. “Whatever happens next, today Pelosi is that woman.”
What Is Wrong With NBC?
When Americans complain about TV networks, we usually target CNN (for being simplistic and ridiculous or for being too liberal/“fake news”) or Fox News (for being so relentlessly Fox News–like). Recent events, though, provide further evidence that NBC has been getting off easy.
1. The network fired Today host Matt Lauer on Monday. But reports surrounding his dismissal indicate that Lauer is accused of having sexually harassed and abused colleagues for years—even, in one horrifying case, having allegedly used his office to sexually assault a woman who lost consciousness and had to receive medical treatment. Vanity Fair reports that NBC staffers are “incredulous that NBC’s top brass was not aware of Lauer’s behavior with women” before one alleged victim filed a complaint this week.
2. NBC kept Donald Trump on The Apprentice even as he inserted himself into national politics by making dumb, unsubstantiated claims about Barack Obama’s birth certificate, lending him and his stupid ideas credibility and putting him in the homes of millions of American voters. Reports in other outlets, moreover, say Trump sexually harassed colleagues on the set of the show. “Eight former crew members recalled that he repeatedly made lewd comments about a camerawoman he said had a nice rear, comparing her beauty to that of his daughter, Ivanka,” the Associated Press wrote, for instance. Apprentice producer and current NBC collaborator Mark Burnett, along with the studio MGM, control the show’s unused footage; they have claimed vaguely that “various contractual and legal requirements” prohibit them from releasing it. But even if that’s true, Burnett and other NBC execs have never discussed Trump’s Apprentice behavior on the record, nor has the network’s news arm done significant original reporting on the subject despite its inside connection to the show’s staffers. (There have even been reports—denied by Burnett—that his team has actively instructed individuals who worked on The Apprentice not to discuss Trump with the press.)
3. NBC News got the footage of Trump telling Billy Bush that he often “grab[bed]” women “by the pussy” from Access Hollywood, an NBC show. But it delayed running its report on that footage for so long that someone inside the network apparently leaked it to the Washington Post, which published it first.
4. The network compounded its failure to do tough reporting by giving Trump’s candidacy fluffy coverage on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, featuring him as a Saturday Night Live host, and booking him on the Tonight Show, where Jimmy Fallon infamously gave his hair a playful, affectionate tousle just months before the 2016 election. (Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough is now feuding with Trump and just said that he heard during the 2016 campaign that Trump is suffering from the “early stages of dementia.” Good job stting on that potentially history-altering information until nearly 13 months after the election, NBC/Joe!)
5. Until recently, NBC employed political pundit Mark Halperin, who like Trump and Lauer also allegedly has an extensive history of sexually inappropriate workplace behavior. (The public allegations against Halperin involve incidents that occurred prior to his employment at NBC.)
6. NBC’s Ronan Farrow worked for nearly a year on a devastating story about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexually abusive behavior—but NBC, for reasons that are largely still unknown, decided not to run it. So he took it to the New Yorker, which has published the allegations Farrow uncovered and multiple bombshell follow-ups about Weinstein’s apparent attempts to intimidate his victims.
Here we have a network and its news operation that could have changed the course of two of the biggest stories of the past two years: Trump and sexual assault. Instead it suppressed news in a way that helped bad actors keep or obtain power. And I haven’t even mentioned that its most famous anchor never came fully clean about having made up a war story. What is NBC doing?
Two More Women Accuse Al Franken of Sexual Misconduct
Two more women have accused Al Franken of sexual misconduct, bringing the number of allegations against the Democratic senator up to six. The allegations involve inappropriate touching and an unwanted kiss, incidents the women described as leaving them feeling ashamed and demeaned.
Stephanie Kemplin, a 41-year-old Army veteran from Ohio, has accused Franklin of cupping her breast during a photo op at a USO tour in 2003 in Kuwait. She told CNN Franken placed his arm around her while they were positioning for the photo and kept his hand on her breast. The touching lasted 5–10 seconds before she shifted her body to move his hand, she told CNN.
And I remember thinking—is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand.
It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I’m very confident saying that.
She is the second woman to accuse Franken of misconduct at a USO tour when he was a comedian. The first allegation against Franken was raised two weeks ago by Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden, who alleged Franken groped and forcibly kissed her during a USO tour in 2006. According to CNN, Kemplin reached out to Tweeden shortly after the latter went public with her accusations, and they spoke on the phone.
In the photo, there is no evidence of the groping, but CNN spoke to Kemplin’s sister and ex-boyfriend, both of whom said Kemplin had told them about the incident at the time.
A Franken spokesperson responded to CNN Wednesday night:
As Sen. Franken made clear this week, he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation.
The other woman to accuse Franken of misconduct today spoke anonymously to Jezebel and was described as a “former elected official in New England.” She told Jezebel that Franken had given her a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” onstage at a live taping of his show in 2006. The woman was then working as the chair of her town’s board, and she had been invited to be interviewed on Franken’s show for progressive radio station Air America. Per Jezebel:
After the interview, the woman tells us, “I reached out my hand to shake his.” Then, she says, “He took it and leaned toward me with his mouth open. I turned my head away from him and he landed a wet, open-mouthed kiss awkwardly on my cheek.”
The woman says she was in disbelief. “I was stunned and incredulous. I felt demeaned. I felt put in my place.”
She said that although the taping was in front of a large audience, no one noticed the kiss.
The woman said she wanted to remain anonymous to keep her name “associated with [her] own accomplishments,” according to Jezebel.
The other women who have accused Franken in recent weeks include Lindsay Menz, who said Franken grabbed her butt while she took a photo with Franken at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, and two anonymous women who told the Huffington Post that Franken had groped them in 2007 and 2008.
Franken, who entered the Senate in 2009, has spoken about his “shame and embarrassment” over the allegations and called on the Senate Ethics Committee to look into his behavior, but he maintains he does not remember the alleged incidents. He returned to the Senate on Monday.
Report: Trump Is “Ready” to Fire Rex Tillerson
Donald Trump is "ready" to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, the New York Times reports:
The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said on Thursday.
All you probably need to know about that "strain" is that Tillerson reportedly referred to Trump as a "fucking moron" after the president left a high-level meeting during which Trump had made a sudden and arbitrary demand to build tens of thousands of unnecessary nuclear weapons. Pompeo, meanwhile, made headlines recently for asserting that intelligence services had determined that Russian sabotage of Hillary Clinton's campaign did not influence the outcome of the 2016 election—an assertion that is incorrect.
The Times meanwhile says Pompeo, a former Kansas congressman, would be replaced at the CIA by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who served in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotton's replacement in the Senate would be appointed by Arkansas' Republican governor.
Matt Lauer Apologizes, Says He Feels “Embarrassed and Ashamed”
Former Today host Matt Lauer issued an apology Thursday, a day after he was fired from his job at NBC, admitting there was “enough truth" to the sexual misconduct allegations against him that he was “embarrassed and ashamed” of his actions.
The apology came during the second episode for Today dedicated in part to its former host’s firing. Lauer’s apology was read by Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie:
There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry.
As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC. Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.
I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherished dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I'm committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full-time job.
The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It's been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.
A statement from Matt Lauer: “There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions...” pic.twitter.com/f93rHXqKQD— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 30, 2017
Guthrie and co-anchor Hoda Kotb also spoke with correspondent Stephanie Gosk about the latest allegations, two new complaints NBC received after Lauer’s firing that were reported later Wednesday. One of the new complaints involved a former employee who alleged Lauer sexually assaulted her in his office.
Thursday’s Today also tackled the accusations against another powerful man, Rep. John Conyers, who stepped down from his position on the Judiciary Committee but remains in Congress. Guthrie interviewed Conyers accuser Marion Brown, who until now had been anonymous.
Trump Emoluments Suit Progresses (Slightly); Judge Allows Trump Business Documents to Be Subpoenaed
A federal judge, on Tuesday, allowed a case brought by two attorney generals alleging Donald Trump is violating of the Constitution’s anti-corruption emoluments clauses to proceed by allowing them to serve the Trump Organization preservation subpoenas. The order by U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte means that twenty-three Trump businesses, including Mar-a-Lago, are compelled by law to preserve documents requested by the Maryland and D.C. attorneys general. The Trump Organization, now run by the president’s two sons Don Jr. and Eric, does not yet have to turn over their records however and may never have to if the case is dismissed, as lawyers for Trump have asked the court.
The suit filed in June by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine alleges that President Trump is in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prohibit the president from taking money or anything of value from foreign governments, as well as domestic state governments. This sort of moneymaking enterprise could range from state political parties holding fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago or foreign diplomats staying at Trump hotels or even buying apartments or leasing space in Trump-owned buildings.
“If a federal judge allows the case to proceed, Racine and Frosh say, one of the first steps will be to demand through the discovery process copies of Trump’s personal tax returns to gauge the extent of his foreign business dealings,” the Washington Post reported in June when the suit was first filed. The suit argues that the political pull of Trump properties for people and organizations wishing to curry favor with the president harms both jurisdictions by potentially driving business dollars away from other local venues, some taxpayer funded, and into the Trump family coffers, giving Maryland and D.C. standing to take the Trump Organization to court.
“Justice Department attorneys asked Messitte to dismiss the case in September and in a filing last month, agency attorneys argued that no evidence should be sought ‘through subpoenas or other mechanisms’ in the meantime,” according to the Post. “The Trump Organization, now run by Trump’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, has said it plans to donate profits from foreign governments booked at the president’s D.C. hotel at year’s end.” The Trumps say a lot of things however. How will anyone ever know if they donate anything at all? Even if the Trump Organization does donate every single dollar in profit from foreign governments, which could total in the tens of millions of dollars, it still wouldn’t change the fundamental ethical and constitutional problem with Trump’s comingling of politics and profit.
Oral arguments in the case are set for Jan. 25. We’ll see if it gets that far.
Today in Conservative Media: Matt Lauer’s Firing Exposes the Press’s Liberal Tribalism
A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.
Conservatives sounded off about the firing of NBC’s Matt Lauer and other sexual misconduct scandals on Wednesday. “He has no more power over careers inside or outside of NBC, which means that the floodgates should open up shortly,” Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey wrote of Lauer. “That may produce some uncomfortable moments at NBC, including for [Savannah] Guthrie and [Hoda] Kotb, who worked with Lauer for years without apparently ever knowing of any issues.” “Lauer is not just a creep,” RedState’s Susan Wright wrote. “He’s a hypocritical creep. When the stories about Fox News’ own sexual harassment problems were hot, Lauer actually covered the stories with a straight face.” At National Review, Jonah Goldberg wrote that coverage of the past several weeks’ cascading sexual misconduct scandals has revealed the mainstream press’s tribalism:
First, is it crazy to think that there’s a problem specific to liberalism at work here? I mean this all started with Harvey Weinstein, and he first thought he could survive the scandal by promising to go after the NRA. Where did he get that idea? Maybe because he had good reason to think it would work?
Perhaps there are a lot of liberal men who think they can buy indulgences by toeing the party line on equal pay and Title IX, and emptying their bladders over things like Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women.” To be fair, in recent weeks, quite a few liberals have been coming to grips with the fact that Bill Clinton survived the exposure of his predations precisely because he bought such indulgences.
[...] The second point is the reverse. The stories of sexual harassment at Fox were entirely newsworthy and legitimate on the merits. But not because Fox is “right wing.” Yet it seems fairly obvious to me that the press enjoyed the Ailes and O’Reilly stories precisely because they involved toppling someone else’s icons. Where there was barely constrained glee in the voices of many pundits and reporters when it came to exposing the sins of Ailes and O’Reilly, there’s equally obvious remorse when it comes to Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin, NPR’s David Sweeney, and, obviously, Bill Clinton. It speaks well of the media that it’s reporting these things anyway. But it would be a good thing for the press to meditate on what that remorse (and glee) says about its own tribalism.
At the Federalist, Candace Owens defended actress Angela Lansbury for saying that women bear partial responsibility for harassment and abuse because they go “out of their way to make themselves attractive.” Owens described her first time getting drunk, which led to her vomiting in front of her crush at a house party:
To no one’s surprise, that crush never became my boyfriend, but on the plus side, I never drank myself into such a state ever again. Do bad. Feel bad. And never repeat. Personal responsibility is underrated.
Of course, had I waited a few years later for the birth of modern feminism, the outcome of that night might have been drastically different. I might have instead blamed the person hosting the party for allowing such debauchery in the first place. I might have hired Lisa Bloom to represent me, crying beside her on-camera that I “didn’t know that underage drinking at college parties might have negative consequences.” How could I have known?
Today, such victimhood is in hot demand. Damsel-in-distress is the new black.
In other news:
Conservatives laid out defenses of the GOP’s tax reform efforts. At National Review, Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute took on common critiques of Republican proposals, including the argument that they would raise the deficit:
Yes, it is legitimate to oppose these tax cuts because they would expand the projected ten-year budget deficit from $10 trillion to $12 trillion. But overheated critics are portraying this $2 trillion cost as the difference between fiscal solvency and a deficit-induced collapse. In reality, deficits will continue rising steeply with or without these tax cuts.
Additionally, the sudden deficit obsession of many on the left seems a bit disingenuous. If $2 trillion in tax cuts is unaffordable, then what about the $5 trillion in new deficit legislation signed by President Obama? Where are the liberal deficit concerns over Senator Bernie Sanders’s $30 trillion single-payer health plan (only half of which is paid for)? And when Republicans proposed addressing the staggering $82 trillion deficit projected for Social Security and Medicare over the next 30 years, where was the liberal proposal to bring these programs into solvency? There was none. Just a vicious ad portraying a Paul Ryan lookalike murdering a senior citizen.
Also in National Review, Ben Elliott, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, argued that Reagan would have opposed the GOP’s plans:
Reagan’s rate cuts were for everyone. We all rise together. In addition, his 1986 tax reform sought to ensure that the elimination of major deductions — such as interest for consumer loans and credit-card debt — would be shouldered by citizens in the broadest sense.
Both of today’s GOP bills, House and Senate, violate these standards of equity and fairness. In the Senate bill, which is being debated and voted on this week, Republicans claim that by slightly lowering rates and adjusting income ranges, as well as doubling the standard deduction and eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, they can ensure that everyone will receive a tax cut — or, as the president describes it, “a huge tax cut for Christmas.” Unfortunately, while taxes for most low- and high-income payers will decrease, many middle- and upper-middle-class payers will receive little or no tax relief, and some will even face higher taxes.