Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The country may be going to hell but the Trump family grift is going better than ever

by digby

In an apparent attempt to fool people into thinking his first 100 days have been wildly successful, President Donald Trump is engaging in a flurry of activity this week. Evidently he hopes that will serve as a proxy for accomplishment.

He has started a trade war with Canada, chatted up astronauts and talked about sending Americans to Mars, signaled that he plans to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and then changed his mind in that same day, offered up some talking points that he called a tax plan, piled the entire U.S. Senate into buses and summoned them to the White House for a briefing on North Korea (later described by one senator as “a dog and pony show“) and jump-started the doomed Obamacare repeal zombie. And in the middle of all this he weirdly punted on his biggest campaign promise, the “big, beautiful wall.” Trump may not have been productive, but he’s been busy.

The tax proposal is the most interesting because it’s a revealing illustration of Trump’s self-serving White House grift, which carries on regardless of anything else that’s happening in this administration. It’s basically a blueprint for massive profits for himself and his children. Naturally enough, Trump has proposed eliminating the estate tax because it’s so unfair that Ivanka and the boys should have to pay taxes on their immense windfall when their daddy passes on. But that’s just the beginning, as The New York Times reported:

Beyond cutting the tax rate to 15 percent for large corporations, which now pay a rate of 35 percent, Mr. Trump also wants that rate for a broad range of firms known as pass-through entities — including hedge funds, real estate concerns like Mr. Trump’s and large partnerships — that currently pay taxes at individual rates, which top off at 39.6 percent

After presenting this wish list to the press, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared that Trump had no plans to ever release his tax returns because he has been more transparent than any president before him. So they will not be voluntarily produced, period. Mnuchin also acknowledged that a scheme such as the one the administration is proposing for pass-through companies like Trump’s could potentially be used as a tax shelter but assured everyone that it would not be used as a loophole, whatever that means.

The Trump family's massive grift: Who cares about policy? As a business and branding venture, this presidency is going swell

One cannot help but recall this exchange about Trump’s tax returns in a presidential debate just six months ago:

Hillary Clinton: The only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.

Donald Trump: That makes me smart.
You have to give him credit. Becoming president, refusing to divest yourself of your business or reveal your conflicts of interest and then proposing gigantic tax cuts that will directly benefit you and your family is actually pretty smart. It should be illegal, but it has never previously occurred to anyone that a president could be so shameless or that the American people simply wouldn’t care.

The family is also using the presidency to advance its “brand” and fill its coffers. The Associated Press reported this week that Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have devised a new business strategy to take advantage of their dad’s popularity in certain states now that the international business schemes have come under more scrutiny. Donald Trump Jr. said the plans will still go through but they’ll be delayed for a few years and “there is an optical component that has to be taken into account.” The New York Times reported a few days ago that this was the main reason Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have taken a leading role in the White House:
Several administration officials and people close to the family said the couple’s move against [Steve] Bannon was motivated less by interest in shaping any particular policy than by addressing what they view as an embarrassing string of failures that may damage [Ivanka’s] father personally, as well as the Trump family brand.
What’s the point of all this if they can’t cash in on all the promises, favors, graft and payola?

As Ivanka and Jared work the angles from inside the White House, Donald Jr. and Eric are working them in Trump country, looking for properties in places where they can parlay the presidency into big bucks for the family. According to the AP:

Among the possible locations being considered: Texas, parts of the South, and perhaps the nation’s capital, where the hotel would exist with the Trump luxury property in the former home of the Old Post Office not far from the White House. The company is also in the very early stages of considering a three-star hotel chain.

Experts quoted in the article said this didn’t seem to present any ethical problems. In fact, one said that while “questions can be raised” about some of the company’s behavior, a pitch in Trump-friendly states seems like “a reasonable business strategy.” I guess there’s no chance of people trying to buy favors from the government with sweetheart deals for the family business. And there’s certainly no chance that the president would be in a position to offer favors to state and local leaders to ensure that certain favors would flow to the Trump organization. It’s perfectly fine.

In fact, Trump is already arranging for some new development possibilities, as USA Today reported:
President Trump [signed] an executive order Wednesday calling into question the future of dozens of national monuments proclaimed by the last three presidents to set aside millions of acres from development.

Trump’s executive order takes aim at 21 years of proclamations beginning in 1996.

Who knows, maybe the Trump Organization can build some three-star hotels in soon-to-be-privatized national monuments and turn them into monuments to President Trump. If the family can spread some money around to help Dad politically and make the whole gaggle even richer than they already are, Donald Trump will be successful on his own terms regardless of what the pollsters and pundits have to say about it. Who cares about the first 100 days? It’s the first billion dollars that matters.