Category Archives: Nevada politics

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. 

Leave a comment

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?

newspapers 1

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?

newspapers 1

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.

newspapers 1

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.

newspapers 1

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!

Comments Off on Short Shots: Race and other matters in America

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

Passion and Politics: Playing Loose with the Truth

Lincoln Cartoon “George Templeton Strong, a prominent New York lawyer and diarist, wrote that Lincoln was “a barbarian, Scythian, yahoo, or gorilla.” Henry Ward Beecher, the Connecticut-born preacher and abolitionist, often ridiculed Lincoln in his newspaper, The Independent (New York), rebuking him for his lack of refinement and calling him “an unshapely man.” Other Northern newspapers openly called for his assassination long before John Wilkes Booth pulled the trigger. He was called a coward, “an idiot,” and “the original gorilla” by none other than the commanding general of his armies, George McClellan.” [Atlantic]

The descendents of those who passionately vilified Lincoln are with us today.   They become particularly noticeable during times when U.S. politics are polarized, polemicized, and full of more propaganda than factual content.  

Case in point: Those “30,000 missing emails” on Secretary Clinton’s server. There are, as we speak, some Internet trolls repeating the claim that Clinton ‘lost’ 30,000 emails during her tenure in the State Department. They’ve got the story bass-ackwards.

“So in 2014, Clinton’s lawyers combed through the private server and turned over about 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department and deleted the rest, which Clinton said were about personal matters.” [Politifact]

The rest of the FBI investigation?

Of the tens of thousands of emails investigators reviewed, 113 contained classified information, and three of those had classification markers. FBI Director James Comey has said Clinton should have known that some of the 113 were classified, but others she might have understandably missed.

Comey said the Justice Department shouldn’t prosecute Clinton because there isn’t enough evidence that she intentionally mishandled classified information. FBI investigators didn’t find vast quantities of exposed classified material, and they also did not turn up evidence that Clinton intended to be disloyal to the United States or that she intended to obstruct justice.  [Politifact]

So, the entire “scandal” doesn’t concern 30,000 emails, those were handed over early in the game; and, it boils down to 3 emails which can’t be shown to have been intentionally mishandled.  Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the investigations were entirely political, entirely overblown, and total malarkey but that’s not the point.  No matter how often the story is fact checked [MMA] [MMA] [Slate] [Star Telegram] [MJ] [WaPo] it is still being pumped by the passionate.

Those in that Basket of Deplorables doing the arm-work to keep the air in that story intended to cause “distrust” of Secretary Clinton are committed to their version – no matter how untrue, no matter how politicized because it’s their version.  Long advised by right wing radio hosts to distrust the media, distrust the ‘establishment,’ and to distrust anything other than the version of events as dispensed by the hosts, they will now easily slip into dismissing any explication which doesn’t fit their personal narrative.  In simpler terms, they don’t care if a statement isn’t true – they’ll find a way to make it that way.

We could add another ten links in the paragraph above to articles debunking the email story (or any other tale for that matter) and the emotional voter will dismiss all as “liberal media.”  Not that they have any idea what the ‘liberal media’ might be – it’s just that they identify as conservative, and the media isn’t enabling their narratives garnered from right wing sources.  Therefore, the media (having been described as liberal on AM radio) must be so. 

If a cavalier dismissal of conflicting information isn’t sufficient, there’s always the conspiratorial element – the ‘liberal’ media must be discredited because “they” are always “hiding something from us.”    Both the Distrust Element and the Conspiratorial Element make up a portion of that Basket of Deplorables – the racists, the misogynists, the bigots, the Islamophobes, the intolerant – which drive some of the support for Trump’s candidacy.

It doesn’t matter how many times the New York Times, or the Washington Post, or any other major news outlet debunks and fact checks Trump’s characterizations of people and events.  These people just aren’t into facts.

Another factor is the capacity of people to filter what they are hearing.  Did Donald Trump say that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. and is therefore a legitimate president?  Well, they may say slyly, that’s what he said because he had to say it, he just doesn’t really truly mean it.  Interesting that this analysis comes from people who like Trump because “he tells it like it is.”

This isn’t of course to argue that Trump’s 40% support is coming solely from the Deplorables and the Deniers – Secretary Clinton herself acknowledged that there are those for whom our economic system isn’t working.  They’re frustrated, fearful, and in need of assistance not forthcoming from our current political systems.   They’ll vote “against the establishment” whatever that might be (such as Bush, Kasich, etc.) because they want some form of change.

Nor should we forget that there are those who will vote for anyone on the top of the ticket with an R.  There are yellow dog Republicans as well as Democrats.

Hence, this election in 2016 will come down to TURNOUT. Good old fashioned door knocking, phone calling, rides to the polls, TURNOUT.  We can be assured that the Deplorable element will be there, as they were for the mid-terms, and the disaffected will arrive.  It’s a matter of no small importance that Democrats make the same effort to GET OUT THE VOTE.

Comments Off on Passion and Politics: Playing Loose with the Truth

Filed under Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Republicans

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?

Comments Off on Contrary to the Image: Joe Heck IS a politician

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.”

Comments Off on Nevada Republicans Cling To Trump’s Basket

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]

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

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?

Comments Off on That Changing Trump Tax Plan and the People Who Love It

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