Category Archives: Heck

Warning: Republicans Are Hazardous to Your Bank Account, and this includes Rep. Heck

Dem Rep Job Creation These are some of the most dangerous words ever spoken – with regard to your bank account:

“After eight years of the Obama economy, Americans are struggling with stagnant wages, reduced hours, and decreased economic opportunity. The policies of this Administration, from the Affordable Care Act to the Dodd Frank financial reform legislation, have hurt economic growth and make it more costly and burdensome for businesses to expand and add workers.” [Heck]

Heck tries to waffle a bit in the last segment: “I will continue to support reasonable regulations that protect the consumer, employees, and the environment while working to reduce burdensome federal regulations so that businesses can thrive and create good-paying jobs.”

First, it’s fact check time. As the chart above indicates the ACA and the Dodd Frank Act have not “decreased economic opportunity,” (whatever that might mean) and in light of what’s been happening with Wells Fargo Bank we need to talk about the “burdens of regulation.”  We also need to talk about a piece of legislation that just passed the House Financial Services Committee.

The “Financial Choice Act” —

“The Financial Choice Act split the banking panel with a vote of 30 to 26, with just one Republican, Representative Bruce Poliquin of Maine, siding with the committee’s Democrats against it.

Mr. Hensarling has been a prominent critic of Dodd-Frank and other changes after the 2008 financial crisis, including the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to regulate the consumer finance industry.

“It has been six years since the passage of Dodd-Frank. We were told it would lift our economy, but instead we are stuck in the slowest, weakest, most tepid recovery in the history of the Republic,” said Mr. Hensarling at Tuesday’s session. “The economy does not work for working people.”

The legislation, which was unveiled in June, calls for numerous changes to Dodd-Frank. One provision would allow some of the largest banks to exempt themselves from some regulatory standards if they maintained an important ratio of capital to total assets at 10 percent or more.” [NYT]

There’s more. The Financial Choice Act (comprehensive summary pdf) reads like the American Bankers Association Christmas Wish List and Birthday Party requests combined with everything a banker would want from a Financialist Santa Claus.

However, let’s start with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about which the House Republicans have several complaints:

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not accountable to Congress or the  American people. The Bureau’s policies often harm consumers or exceed its legal authority because the Bureau is not subject to checks and balances that apply to other regulatory agencies.” [House pdf]

This is another iteration of the initial whine the GOP wheezed out when the idea of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was suggested which would not be subject to the corporate/financialist tastes of Republican Congressional representatives.  The ones who want government so small it can be drowned in a bathtub – and the CFPB along with it.   At this point it might be instructive to ask: What harm has been done to consumers of, say, Wells Fargo Bank, by the CFPB?

“When news first broke that Wells Fargo would pay the largest fine in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau history for routinely opening unauthorized accounts that clients didn’t want or need, CEO John Stumpf put blame squarely on his worst-paid workers.

He’s changed his tune since, as political pressure over the years-long scandal mounted and evidence depicting the high-pressure sales culture at the bank got more attention.

And now, the bank’s board is reaching into Stumpf’s own pocket to discipline him. The CEO will forfeit $41 million in past compensation — all of it in the form of investment holdings that hadn’t vested yet — and the woman who ran his firm’s retail banking unit will give back $19 million of her own.” [TP]

What harm was done by this agency in fining Wells Fargo for its “cross selling scam” that created phony accounts to boost sales figures?  And, what is wrong with this result?

“By clawing back a large chunk of Stumpf’s roughly $100 million in compensation over the past decade, though, the board is hoping to signal that it’s taking the scandal seriously. The day news of the $185 million fine broke, Stumpf portrayed it as an issue of some bad apples at junior positions and said responsibility started and stopped with the 5,300 people fired in response.

That holier-than-thou response first started to crack in front of the Senate Banking Committee last week, when senators including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) bounced the bank head off the walls of a hearing room for hours.

Wednesday’s announcement of clawbacks comes a day before Stumpf returns to Capitol Hill to face the House’s version of the same inquisition.

Clawbacks are a hot-button concept for finance watchdogs and Wall Street critics. Many of the industry’s sins stem from compensation policies that incentivize executives to break whatever rules they have to keep the company stock rising, knowing they’ll walk away rich even if the company gets caught. Clawbacks, observers and policymakers say, are an important tool in reversing that deviant cycle.” [TP]

So, how do the House Republicans mean to “improve” the CFPB? The CFPB that caught Wells Fargo? Made the Bank pay fines and restitution? Made the Board of Directors claw back the ill-gotten gains of the bank executives and not lay the whole scam on the lower level employees?

The House Republicans want to (1) replace the head of the CFPB with an awkward “bipartisan” board; that should facilitate logjams and obstructionism. (2) Make the CFPB budget subject to specific Congressional control – meaning the Congress can cut the budget until there is no way the agency can do its job. (3) Require a cost benefit analysis of every rule promulgated by the agency – which means if the regulation “costs too much” for the preservation of bank profits the rule dies. (4) Prohibit the CFPB from cutting off “access” to fraudulent or abusive bank practices and products.  In other words, the bankers have the CHOICE to offer any product they wish and if you buy in and get scammed that was your choice as a consumer.

Now it’s time to return to Representative Heck’s own words: “…Dodd Frank financial reform legislation, have hurt economic growth and make it more costly and burdensome for businesses to expand and add workers.” 

Does Representative Heck believe that they current structure of the CFPB as an independent agency is a weakness?  Does he believe that it should be subject to Congressional pressure to weaken its enforcement activities?  Is CFPB protection from fraudulent practices and products really denying Americans “choices” in financial products?

If the “Financial Choice Act” (essentially a repeal of Dodd Frank) came up for a vote in the House today would Representative Heck vote in favor of it?

And how does he feel about the House GOP charges that the CFPB was late to the game and didn’t handle the Wells Fargo case adequately?

“Where was the CFPB? Why did they come in so late to the game?” he continued. “They have immense powers and this is their job to enforce these basic consumer laws and it appears they were asleep at the switch.”

Hensarling also has criticized regulators for the $185-million settlement with the bank, which allowed Wells Fargo to avoid admitting any wrongdoing. 

The controversy over the San Francisco-based financial institution has become the latest flash point in a bitter battle between Republicans and Democrats over the fate of the CFPB, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank overhaul of financial regulations.

The legislation passed with almost no GOP support. Ever since, House and Senate Republicans have been trying unsuccessfully to reduce the power of the bureau, arguing it was designed to avoid congressional oversight and has limited consumer’s access to credit through over-regulation.” [LATimes]

Interesting that the very Republicans who were trying to reduce the power and capacity of the CFPB to regulate lending practices are now trying to blame the agency for not doing enough, fast enough.

“Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said Republicans are pushing “a false narrative” about the CFPB’s role in the Wells Fargo case in order to discredit the agency.

“The fact is the CFPB and OCC were investigating before the L.A. Times story came out,” he said. “But that does not mean that the leading congressional opponent of the CFPB won’t try to pitch that narrative again at this hearing because it plays to his base. But it’s simply false.” [LATimes]

Nice try, Rep. Hensarling, but there’s an ample record of Republican opposition to the creation, organization, and implementation of the CFPB to make any contention that the 1,600 man/woman agency wasn’t trying to do its job in regard to the egregious practices of Wells Fargo. As the old saw goes: That dog won’t hunt.

So, the next question to Representative Heck (and Hardy and Amodei too) is: In light of the Wells Fargo scandalous behavior and the bilking of its own customers, what are you advocating to increase the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to actually protect PEOPLE and not the bankers who have been scamming them?  No one chooses to get bilked, and no one should have to tolerate banks who chose to bilk their customers.  Period.

** On the other hand Nevadans who want adequate protection from illegal, illicit, and otherwise unethical banking practices have an advocate running for the U.S. Senate – Catherine Cortez Masto, who has a track record of taking on the big banking interests on behalf of us “little people who pay taxes.”   A candidate with an endorsement from the woman who fought for the CRPB, Elizabeth Warren:

“I’m so grateful to have Senator Warren’s support,” said Cortez Masto. “Senator Warren and I are both committed to taking on the big banks, protecting consumers, homeowners and helping to grow the middle class – issues I championed as Attorney General and hope continue doing in the U.S. Senate with her. Unlike my opponent Joe Heck who has voted to keep tax breaks for big corporations and billionaires like the Koch brothers, I will fight for policies that help hard working Nevadans, not hurt them.”

“Catherine’s race is critical to restoring our Democratic majority,” said Senator Warren. “During her two terms as Nevada’s Attorney General, Catherine held big banks accountable and fought predatory lending, cracked down on sex trafficking and got tough on elderly, child, and domestic abusers. Catherine knows who she’s fighting for and I need her fighting alongside me in the Senate.” [Link]

And there’s the choice – let the banks make the choices? Or, protect people from the banks’ bad choices.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Heck, koch brothers, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Politics, Republicans

Quick Notes on Rep. Joe Heck

Heck Trump Hat

Since Representative Heck has taken the Trump Road down Republican Lane, there are some sticky points he might want to address.

One such point is here – as Trump attaches a radical right wing advocate for absolutely NO abortions under Any Circumstances to his list of advisors.  Does Rep. Heck espouse this view as well, if he’s so enthusiastic about the prospect of a Trump presidency? 

This is not a “mainstream” position by any means. 

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Filed under abortion, conservatism, Heck, Nevada politics, Republicans

Short Shots: Race and other matters in America

newspapers 1

It has now been 190 days since Judge Merrick Garland was nominated for a position on the US Supreme Court.  This is the longest wait for any nominee, and the U.S. Senate has not even had the courtesy to hold a hearing on his nomination.  Senator Majority Leader McConnell has a very strange idea of what it means to do his job.  McConnell has also refused to schedule votes on two nominees for the federal bench who are African American, over Senator Cory Booker’s objections. [NorthJersey]  Partisanship and racial bias at play? Why else would a perfectly qualified nominee for the Supreme Court nominated by an African American president, and two African American district court nominees not get a vote?

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How’s this for a howler?

“Donald Trump’s campaign chair in a prominent Ohio county has claimed there was “no racism” during the 1960s and said black people who have not succeeded over the past half-century only have themselves to blame.

Kathy Miller, who is white and chair of the Republican nominee’s campaign in Mahoning County, made the remarks during a taped interview with the Guardian’s Anywhere but Washington series of election videos.”

But Wait! Ms Miller wasn’t finished:

“Miller also dismissed the racial tensions of the 1960s, when she said she graduated from high school. “Growing up as a kid, there was no racism, believe me. We were just all kids going to school.”

Asked about segregation and the civil rights movement, she replied: “I never experienced it. I never saw that as anything.”

Miller added: “I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this … Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.” [Guardian]

This from quite possibly the most self referential self absorbed individual available for the County Trump Campaign committee?

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Let’s put this canard to rest – there is NO widespread voter fraud; there isn’t even any widespread potential for voter impersonation fraud.

      • “Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a longtime proponent of voter suppression efforts, argued before state lawmakers that his office needed special power to prosecute voter fraud, because he knew of 100 such cases in his state. After being granted these powers, he has brought six such cases, of which only four have been successful. The secretary has also testified about his review of 84 million votes cast in 22 states, which yielded 14 instances of fraud referred for prosecution, which amounts to a 0.00000017 percent fraud rate.” [Brennan Center]

That isn’t statistically significant in any rational analysis, so let’s just call this what it is – a fraudulent campaign to reduce the number of legitimate Democratic voters.

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Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) is still running to be Division commander, with an ad that compares himself going to “put his boots in the sand with soldiers” while Cortez Masto took “vacation days.”  All 174 of them in eight years.  If we were being tacky we could say Heck was paid for those 460 days he was deployed – so it was at taxpayer expense, but we’re not being tacky we’d just notice that he’s really dragging out the militarism for this campaign.   By the way, had Cortez Masto not attended national conferences he’d probably be whining she didn’t represent Nevada when she had the opportunity.

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Here’s a nice shot! Compliments of Astrid Silva – 795 new U.S. / Nevada citizens taking the oath at Cashman Field.  Welcome to America!

New Nevada Citizens Have a good day!

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Filed under Heck, McConnell, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Republicans, Vote Suppression

Contrary to the Image: Joe Heck IS a politician

Heck Trump Hat

Contrary to the nifty images of Brigadier General Doctor Heck – and his advertising campaign – Joe Heck (R-NV03) is a POLITICIAN.

Yes, and he has been for some time now.  Heck served in the Nevada Legislature from 2004 through 2008 as the Senator from District 5.

“….serving on the Natural Resources, Human Resources and Education, and the Commerce and Labor Committees, and as Vice-Chair of the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee.” [Heck]

He was elected to the NV-03 Congressional seat on November 2, 2010, and served in that capacity until his decision to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Harry Reid.

He is  pleased to let one and all know of his committee assignments in Washington, D.C. Armed Services, Education and Workforce Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but rather than note these connections in D.C. Heck has decided to run as an “outsider?”

During his political tenure in Washington Heck has, indeed, made some connections:

“Heck’s record show he has been anything but (independent); in reality, he has joined his fellow Republicans in Congress to consistently advocate for a special interest, self-serving agenda at the expense of Nevadans. This point is exemplified by Heck consistently voting for the Koch Brothers agenda in Congress, where in 2013 alone Heck voted with the Kochs 100% of the time.” [SM.com]

There’s more:

“Heck’s alignment with the Republican Congress and its special interest agenda is best exemplified by one metric in specific: the percentage of times he votes with the Koch brothers. This year he has voted with the Kochs nearly 90% of the time, and in 2013 he voted with them 100% of the time.  The Republican billionaires, who have spent heavily on Heck’s campaigns, are now seeing a significant return on their investment with Heck voting for their agenda in Congress. Heck voted for billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies for big oil companies and even voted to protect tax breaks for companies that outsource American jobs.” [SM.com]

Full PDF report here.  As a reminder – the Koch Brothers do have an agenda, and supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders are probably aware of this information on the Koch Brothers’ wish list.

Heck has voted WITH the Koch Brothers 90-100% of the time – so where does he stand on abolishing Medicare and Medicaid? On repealing Social Security? On eliminating the minimum wage? On abolishing the capital gains tax? On abolishing the Food and Drug Administration?  Getting rid of the Consumer Product Safety Commission? The Occupational Safety and Health Act?

And then there’s the more recent Dodd Frank Act, regulating the banking sector – Heck demonstrated his allegiance to the bankers – here’s a trip down memory lane:

“Marching back to July 26, 2012 we find Representative Heck voting in favor of the interestingly titled HR 4078 “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.”  The title was commonplace, everything in those days had “small business” and “job creation” attached to the title, perhaps to obscure the fact that the Congress had done exactly diddly to create jobs or help really small businesses.  The effect would not have been small, or particularly creative.

HR 4078 would have prohibited any federal government agency from promulgating or taking “significant regulatory action,” unless the employment rate dropped below 6%, defining  “significant regulatory action” as any action that is likely to result in a rule or guidance with a fiscal effect of $50 million or more as determined by the Office of Management and Budget, or to adversely affect one of the following, including, but not limited to (Sec. 105) [PVS]  Now why would this bill illustrate Representative Heck’s allegiance to the banking sector?

Answer: Because the Dodd-Frank Act regulating the financial sector was enacted on July 21, 2010 – that would be the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – and the agencies were in the rule making process when HR 4078 was considered in the House.  Now, what sector of the economy was going to see a $50 million dollar effect?  Here’s a clue: It’s not family owned bodegas and gas stations.  The banking industry did NOT want to see any regulation, any restraint, any inconvenience to their consumer gouging practices and HR 4078 was the result.  (And, the law if enacted would have prevented any more attempts to contain climate change – a bonus in GOP eyes.)”

Compare this action in allegiance to the banking sector with what’s been going on recently.   Several thousand customers of Wells Fargo Bank would have received no justice at all had Heck had his way and abolished the rule making authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or abolished the agency completely —   September 8, 2016:

“For years, Wells Fargo employees secretly issued credit cards without a customer’s consent. They created fake email accounts to sign up customers for online banking services. They set up sham accounts that customers learned about only after they started accumulating fees.

“On Thursday, these illegal banking practices cost Wells Fargo $185 million in fines, including a $100 million penalty from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the largest such penalty the agency has issued.

Federal banking regulators said the practices, which date back to 2011, reflected serious flaws in the internal culture and oversight at Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest banks. The bank has fired at least 5,300 employees who were involved.

In all, Wells Fargo employees opened roughly 1.5 million bank accounts and applied for 565,000 credit cards that may not have been authorized by customers, the regulators said in a news conference. The bank has 40 million retail customers.” [NYT]

And Representative Heck doesn’t think the CFPB needs to exist? Tell that to the 1.5 million bank customers who were ripped off.  Representative Heck isn’t a politician? Tell that to the Koch Brothers for whom he’s been a reliable ally? Tell that to the Wall Street Bankers for whom he’s carried so much water?

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Filed under financial regulation, Heck, koch brothers, Nevada politics

Nevada Republicans Cling To Trump’s Basket

The Pearl Clutching is amazing!  It’s also perfectly predictable. Republican candidate Donald J. Trump can say all manner of outrageous things, but let Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton call him out and the antimacassars have to be taken off the backs of the fainting couches and the pillows plumped up.

Donald J. Trump: “Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics-a tough subject-must be discussed.”  1:05 AM, June 5, 2013.

Donald J. Trump: “@YoungYoung54: @JeriHyatt @megynkelly @JebBush So true. Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English !!”  7:14 PM, August 24, 2015.

Donald J. Trump: “But you have people coming in and I’m not just saying Mexicans, I’m talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they’re coming into this country.”  [CNN/HuffPo]

Heck Trump Hat

Is anyone going to argue that these remarks from the Republican presidential candidate AREN’T racist? 

And still Nevada politicians like Representative Joe Heck will gladly don the Trump Hat.

 

Donald J. Trump: “I think the guy is lazy,” Trump said of a black employee, according to O’Donnell. “And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” [HuffPo]

Donald J. Trump: “And isn’t it funny. I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” O’Donnell recalled Trump saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” [HuffPo]

Tarkanian

Do these comments from Mr. Trump sound blatantly racist? Stereotypically anti-Semitic?  Even “deplorable?” No matter, Congressional Candidate Danny Tarkanian is still pleased to be a supporter of Donald J. Trump.  But wait … there’s more.

“His white supremacist fan club includes the Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi news site; Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, which aims to promote the “heritage, identity, and future of European people”; Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a Virginia-based white nationalist magazine; Michael Hill, head of the League of the South, an Alabama-based white supremacist secessionist group; and Brad Griffin, a member of Hill’s League of the South and author of the popular white supremacist blog Hunter Wallace.

A leader of the Virginia KKK who is backing Trump told a local TV reporter earlier this month, “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.” [HuffPo]

Hardy 3

Maybe we should have expected Bundy-backer Cresent Hardy to support Mr. Trump.  Not to much of his credit, Hardy initially used the Weasel Excuse for supporting Mr. Trump — “I’ll support the candidate of my party,” – nothing like announcing that you put your party above the interests of ALL American.  Then, Mr. Hardy climbed in the Basket with the other ‘deplorables.”

 

There’s still more. This August Mr. Trump hired Stephen K. Bannon of Breitbart “News.” [NYT]  Mr. Bannon was the executive chairman of the Breitbart organization when it published the infamous piece by Maria Cardona about birth control injections making women fat and unattractive.  [Snopes] The Breitbart site has given us all manner of inflammatory headlines, and there are plenty of examples: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.” Or, “Sympathy for the Devils: The Plot Against Roger Ailes – and America.” And, “There’s no hiring bias against women in tech, they just suck at interviews.” And, the egregious: “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield.”  And the incomprehensible, “After the Pulse Club Massacre, It’s Time For The Gays To Come Home To Republican Party.”  And, one of my ‘favorites,’ “The Solution To Online Harassment is Simple: Women Should Log Off.” [MMA]

Amodei 3

Yes, even all this is not enough to make Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) do much more than tell us Mr. Trump as president would be a smoking black hole or the next messiah…whatever that might mean.  It can be argued that this comment puts Amodei in the ‘Party before Country’ category – why else support a candidate you think has a 50% chance of being a Smoking Black Hole?  Yes, indeed, for Rep. Amodei it’s all about HIS team:

“Congressman Amodei has demonstrated time and time again that he puts corporations and his party first. Leaders lead. Cynics, like Congressman Amodei, go along to get along. That’s never been more on display than with his comment ‘quite frankly… in the five years I’ve been around, I’d like to try being on the team in the White House’. Party loyalty.” [Evans]

Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.”

Tell me with whom you walk and I will tell you who you are.   Or, as granny used to say, “You’re known by the company you keep.”  If these Nevada Republican candidates find it uncomfortable to be associated with the deplorable comments and headlines listed above – there’s a solution.  Don’t support people and organizations which say or support these egregious things.

The Chicago Tribune sums up Trump’s campaign and its followers:

“His fervid nationalistic rhetoric has given succor to racists, homophobes, xenophobes and Islamophobes. In drawing them from the margins (back) into the mainstream, Trump is creating a social climate that increasingly threatens the progress America has made toward pluralism and multiculturalism.”

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Filed under Amodei, Heck, Nativism, Nevada politics, Republicans

Scams and Scandals: Is Nothing Enough to Put Nevada Republicans Off Trump?

Trump 1 While the press seems obsessed with ‘foundations’ (especially if discussing the highly rated and respected Clinton Foundation) there was this timeline published on September 6, 2016.

“Trump-Bondi Timeline

August 23, 2013
Donald Trump’s attorneys “launched an aggressive campaign against New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, as the state’s chief law-enforcement officer continues an investigation into the billionaire’s education company.” —WSJ, Aug. 23, 2016

(This is one day before AG Schneiderman filed the suit.)

Mid-Late August 2013
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi “personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump” “several weeks” before Bondi’s “office publicly announced it was deliberating whether to join a multi-state lawsuit proposed by New York’s Democratic attorney general.”

” ‘The process took at least several weeks, from the time they spoke to the time they received the contribution,’ Reichelderfer told AP.” —AP, June 6, 2016

ca. Sept. 10, 2013
Ivanka Trump donates $500 to Bondi (or the PAC?) “a week before her father’s money was reported as being received.” —AP, June 6, 2016

Sept. 13, 2013
Bondi “publicly announced she was considering joining a New York state probe of Trump University’s activities.” —AP, June 6, 2016

Sept. 17, 2013
And Justice For All, political group backing Bondi, “reported receiving” the $25,000 check from Trump foundation. —AP, June 6, 2016

Sept. or October, 2013
“In 2013, [Trump] wouldn’t answer Times/Herald questions about why he was contributing to an attorney general’s race in Florida. But he did release a statement calling Bondi ‘a fabulous representative of the people’ and Schneiderman ‘a political hack.’ ” —Tampa Bay Times, March 14, 2016

“In 2013, Trump acknowledged making the contribution.” [TPM]

Meanwhile in Texas:

In 2009 the state of Texas began an investigation into Trump University,  after complaints surfaced regarding the advertising placed in Texas newspapers:

“The probe began in the fall of 2009, apparently in response to an advertisement that Trump University had placed in the Chronicle, according to an internal memo that Attorney General’s Office lawyer Rick Berlin sent to Owens and three other supervisors.

“The free workshop advertisement advises you to ‘Cash in on the Greatest Property Liquidation in History!’ ” the memo said. “The full one page ad …quotes Donald Trump as saying ‘I can turn anyone into a successful real estate investor, including you.’ The ad further professes that you can buy real estate from banks at up to 70% below market value.” [HoustonChron]

The case progressed:

“Two months later, in January 2010, the Attorney General’s Office notified Trump University it was under investigation for “possible violations of 17.46(a) and 17.46(b) of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices – Consumer Protection Act,” records show.

Those provisions prohibit “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” The notification letter demanded 12 categories of documents.” [HoustonChron]

And when records were released in California regarding Trump’s activities, this emerged:

“Abbott received donations totaling $35,000 from Trump three years after deciding not to sue – the only major donation the New York billionaire has made to a Texas politician in years.” [HoustonChron]

On May 6, 2010 the state of Texas was preparing to file suit and requested a variety of documents from Trump.

“Investigators were scheduled to meet with Trump representatives on May 19, 2010, to pitch the $5.4 million settlement proposal. That meeting never took place, Owens said. Instead, the division received “verbal notification” that the investigation and the lawsuit were over.” [Salon]

So, what has all this to do with Nevada politics?  

The jury is still literally out on the Trump University case, the one in which Mr. Trump famously declared he couldn’t get a fair hearing because the judge (Curiel) is of Mexican heritage – but we can get a bit of information about Nevada candidates for whom the Trump University/Trump Foundation/Trump Institute morass isn’t troubling enough to warrant putting some distance between themselves and at least the “optics” of the Trump scams.

The Reno Gazette Journal published a full list of Nevada politicians who have either endorsed or said they would support Mr. Trump – in spite of the continuing pile of scandals in which he’s involved.  Some of the more notable on the list are:

Gov. Brian Sandoval – Yes

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison – Yes

Attorney General Adam Laxalt – Yes

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei – Yes

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck – Yes

U.S. Rep. Cresent Hardy – Did not respond, but has said he will support the nominee * (yes, see below)

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, Henderson – Yes

Nevada Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson, Las Vegas – Yes

State Sen. Don Gustavson, Sparks – Yes

What seems particularly troubling is that when the Governor and the Attorney General are supporting the candidacy of Mr. Trump the ‘optics’ appear that they would not be interested in pursuing any litigation against Mr. Trump’s scams.  Representatives Heck and Amodei seem not concerned enough to distance themselves from the candidacy.

If the Trump University scandal is insufficient incentive to put some distance between themselves and Trump’s candidacy perhaps there are other items which might cause them to back off?

Apparently the housing discrimination scandals of 1973-75 which resulted in Trump agreeing to abandon the discrimination policies and to submit its operations to a regular review by the NY Urban League weren’t enough to make these Nevada politicians wary of Mr. Trump. Nor were Mr. Trump’s machinations involving a Central Park property and the abuse of the residents therein enough to make Nevada politicians nervous? [Atlantic]

Perhaps they find Mr. Trump’s position on immigration policy appealing, but without delving into his immigration practices:

“In order to construct his signature Trump Tower, the builder first had to demolish the Bonwit Teller store, an architecturally beloved Art Deco edifice. The work had to be done fast, and so managers hired 200 undocumented Polish workers to tear it down, paying them substandard wages for backbreaking work—$5 per hour, when they were paid at all.” [Atlantic] Mr. Trump was aware of these practices.  [Time]

There have been other allegations published about Trump’s dealings with his Modeling Agency and the women who were undocumented working there. [Mother Jones]

Nevadans are usually particularly sensitive to casino operation policies. Trump’s were highly questionable – enough so that he’s no longer in the casino business.

“In 1990, with Trump Taj Mahal in trouble, Trump’s father Fred strolled in and bought 700 chips worth a total of $3.5 million. The purchase helped the casino pay debt that was due, but because Fred Trump had no plans to gamble, the New Jersey gaming commission ruled that it was a loan that violated operating rules. Trump paid a $30,000 fine; in the end, the loan didn’t prevent a bankruptcy the following year. As noted above, New Jersey also fined Trump $200,000 for arranging to keep black employees away from mafioso Robert LiButti’s gambling table. In 1991, the Casino Control Commission fined Trump’s company another $450,000 for buying LiButti nine luxury cars. And in 2000, Trump was fined $250,000 for breaking New York state law in lobbying to prevent an Indian casino from opening in the Catskills, for fear it would compete against his Atlantic City casinos.” [Atlantic]

Surely such a record would cause Nevada politicians to retreat from the prospect of supporting Mr. Trump? Evidently not.

Perhaps some highly questionable  name-licensing agreements would be enough to make Nevada politicians uncomfortable?  Especially if the agreements involved real estate transactions?

“In the case of Trump SoHo, in Manhattan, Trump’s partners turned out to have a lengthy criminal past. Trump said he didn’t know that, but—atypically—settled a lawsuit with buyers (while, typically, not admitting any wrongdoing). Another, Trump International Hotel & Tower Fort Lauderdale, went into foreclosure, and Trump has sued the complex’s developer. In 2013, hesettled a suit with prospective buyers who lost millions when a development in Baja Mexico went under. Trump blamed the developers again, saying he had only licensed his name.” [Atlantic]

Either Mr. Trump is not being honest about his relationship with these failed developments, or he is remarkably naive about to whom and under what circumstances he licenses his name?

Would Nevada Republican politicians sound the retreat from the Trump Camp if it were known that Mr. Trump has a track record of stiffing small business owners and employees – the very people the Republicans claim to uphold and protect?  Again, from the Atlantic summation:

“Trump has offered various excuses, including shoddy workmanship, but the scale of the problem—hundreds of allegations—makes that hard to credit. In some cases, even the lawyers Trump has hired to defend him have sued him for failing to pony up their fees. In one lawsuit, a Trump employee admitted in court that a painter was stiffed because managers determined they had “already paid enough.” The cases are damaging because they show Trump not driving a hard bargain with other businesses, but harming ordinary, hard-working Americans.”

USA Today reported:

“Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.”

The aforementioned list of Nevada Republican officials and candidates can evidently swallow all manner of scandals involving housing discrimination, employment discrimination, stiffing small businesses, highly questionable casino operation policies, immigration practices (as opposed to empty rhetoric), and publicized infractions of the acceptable ways to use foundation funds —

Perhaps they can sputter about the “e-mails,” a large nothing-burger of specious speculation and Republican investigations of the investigations and the people investigating the investigations … or the Clinton Foundation with its top ratings from Charity Navigator and Charity Watch [AP] but the hard facts remain that Mr. Trump has been and may continue to be involved in practices which are illegal at worst and ethically questionable at best.

Representatives Amodei, Hardy, and Heck, Attorney General Laxalt, and Governor Sandoval should be asked directly how they can continue to support a presidential candidate who has demonstrated a willingness to break the rules of casino operations? To engage in housing discrimination? To refuse payment to employees and contractors (including his own campaign staff)? To engage in unlawful immigration practices?

The answers should be enlightening?

*Cresent Hardy has since decided he will do everything he can to get Mr. Trump elected. [LV Sun]

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Filed under Amodei, Heck, Nevada politics, Politics

That Changing Trump Tax Plan and the People Who Love It

 Trump Tax Plan It’s time to haul out the old Etch-A-Sketch template from the Romney campaign for another deployment in the Trump 2016 version – Trump has offered two tax policy proposals.  Neither one accomplishes much more than exacerbating the problems of the current tax code; in fact they’d both do more damage than good.  

Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) candidate for the Nevada Senate seat and Danny Tarkanian, perpetual candidate and now a contestant for the 3rd Congressional District seat, have both endorsed Donald Trump as their choice for president, and here’s what they’re getting in the bargain.

A Tax Plan for the Top 0.1%

Bracketology: The Tax Policy Center analyzed the initial Trump Tax Proposal (December edition) and this release was followed by significant changes in the original proposal as of August 16, 2016.   And here comes the confusion:

“Trump’s original tax plan included defined brackets, which have since been removed from his campaign website. Trump’s standard deduction increase would make the first $25,000 in income tax-exempt. According to his original plan, the lowest bracket would then apply to all taxable income between $25,000 and $50,000 for single taxpayers, the middle tax rate would be assessed on income of $50,001 to $150,000 and the highest rate would apply to income above $150,000. For married couples, the income ranges would be double these amounts.”  [Motley Fool]

And now:

“As a practical matter, Trump’s plan features a sizable tax-free bracket. He wants to quadruple the standard deduction (currently $6,300) to $25,000 for single filers and $50,000 for joint filers. As a result, about half the population wouldn’t pay income tax.” [TaxAnalyst]

As everyone who has ever filed with the IRS knows full well, what a person actually pays is tax on the adjusted income – income after deductions. If we don’t know what the allowable deductions are then it’s almost impossible to discern what the tax proposal actually means for the average tax payer.  It also isn’t helpful that the ‘defined brackets’ have been removed from the policy section of the Trump info-site.  We can guess that the 12% rate goes for those with taxable incomes between $25,000 and $50,000; 25% for those with taxable income between $50,000 and $150,000; and, 33% for those with taxable income over $150,000.

Who plays in the Brackets?  Here comes the fun, and the way the Trump Tax Plan benefits the upper income earners.   We need to look at Trump’s “pass through entities.”   This is a loophole not only large enough to drive a tractor trailer through, but most of the freight cars on the Union Pacific as well.

“Trump would go one step further, creating an enormous tax loophole for the rich by applying his 15 percent corporate rate to “pass-through” entities as well. Pass-through entities are businesses whose income are not taxed at the corporate level, but rather passed through entirely to the businesses’ owners and then taxed at the owners’ individual income-tax levels. High-income households can easily avoid paying their full income tax bill by reclassifying their income as pass-through income. This loophole allows Trump to claim that he is closing the carried interest loophole, while actually lowering the rate that hedge fund managers would pay from 23.8 percent to 15 percent.”  [EPI]

In 2012 the state of Kansas under the direction of Governor Sam Brownback and a GOP controlled legislature enacted this loophole with disastrous budget results, because of  reduced taxation rates for LLC’s, S Corps, partnerships, farms, and sole proprietorships.

The normally extremely conservative Tax Foundation is not amused:

When the exemption was passed in 2012, it was projected that 191,000 entities would take advantage of the provision. As more and more people have realized the very sizeable tax advantage of being a pass-through entity in Kansas, that number ended up being 330,000 claimants, over 70 percent more than was anticipated.  It’s important to note here that while decreasing taxes is generally associated with greater economic growth, the pass-through carve out is primarily incentivizing tax avoidance, not job creation. [TaxFnd]  (emphasis added)

Thud.  That’s the sound of budget and revenue problems hitting the floor as a result of a ‘carve out’ for the top income earners disguised as a tax cut for small businesses.  Here’s a simple example. If I were earning $165,000 per year working for the Acme Explosives Company, I would ask my employer Wile E. Coyote to immediately re-hire me as an “independent contractor.”  I would re-create myself as an “S” corporation. Handy, since I live in Nevada which doesn’t have a personal income tax, and thus doesn’t recognize the federal S corporation election.  I file the paperwork, get my EIN number, pay some fees, and bingo! – I am taxed at the 15% rate rather than 33%.  There is obviously no job creation here – just a wonderful and perfectly legal way for me to reduce my “bracket” at the expense of those who don’t have the wherewithal to follow my shady example.

The Wichita Eagle editorial board summarizes:

“As part of the 2012 tax cuts, about 300,000 business owners in Kansas don’t have to pay state taxes on pass-through business income. Not only do many Kansas wage earners think this is unfair, so do some of the business owners receiving the tax break – especially when the state is facing serious budget problems.  The exemption is costing Kansas about $260 million a year in revenue. And contrary to what Gov. Sam Brownback promised, it hasn’t acted “like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.”

Trump, Tarkanian, and Heck would seemingly like to have Nevada and 48 other states go the way of Kansas?  Only if we’d like to raise tax avoidance and cheating to an art form.

Playing with Children:  Another element of the Trump Tax proposal is the child care tax deduction, and here too the top 1% fare very well thank you.   It’s important to remember at this point that the economic value of a tax deduction increases with the marginal rate of the payer. Or, the higher your tax bracket the more valuable the deduction – for child care.  The deduction is of no use whatsoever to someone already in the Zero bracket but is ever so helpful for those in the upper income levels.

Playing for the Children:  Mr. Trump is pleased to tell us that the Federal Estate Tax is a “horrible weapon which has destroyed many families…”  Not. So. Fast.  “Today’s estate tax is only imposed on less than 0.2 percent of households. Fewer than two estates in a thousand pay it. More than 2.5 million Americans die each year, but less than 5,000 estates were taxed in 2014. Only estates of $5.4 million or more must pay any estate tax at all.” [C&L]   Perhaps it is not too much to return to the appellation “The Paris Hilton Legacy Protection Act,” for this long sought GOP gift to the rich.

There are some serious questions which should be posed to Mr. Trump and his supporters like Mr. Tarkanian and Representative Heck:

#1.  What exactly are the specified brackets in the modified Trump tax policy proposal?  We can assume that the new rates apply to the old brackets but without clarification from the campaign there are significant questions about the revenue projections (or revenue deficit projections) which remain unanswered.  Do those brackets leave us with a revenue deficit of $3 trillion over ten years?  [Tax Analyst] If so, thus much for budget balancing and other forms of fiscal contortion.

#2. Does Trump mean to allow individuals to avail themselves of the Great Pass Through Tax Dodge?  If so, how does he intend to avoid what’s happened in Kansas?

#3. Does Trump intend to provide child care deductions for the rich while working families see none of the economic benefits of it?

#4. Do Mr. Trump, Mr. Tarkanian, and Representative Heck really mean to advocate for estate tax avoidance for those estates of $4.5 million or more? For less that 0.2% of the United States population?

We may have to wait for Trump Tax Policy 3.0 before these questions can be fully answered?

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Filed under Economy, Heck, income tax, Nevada politics, tax revenue, Taxation