Recent events 4/10/2017 edition

I’m back bitches!

(and yes, I’ve always wanted to say that)

So, I’ve been a bit busy with work, haven’t kept up with my updates so lets do a recap of recent events and then discuss:

  1. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is under significant strain and hardship and predictably Trump, his administration and his Congress are proving woefully unfit for that task
  2. Congress has put forward a tax reform plan, which appears to mostly benefit the wealthy and further cement a lopsided economy that will impede growth. (But nah it’ll totally help the middle class, believe me.)
  3. Tom Price has resigned as head of Health and Human Services, after it came out he wasted $1 million on Military Air flights, because nothing says draining the swamp than hypocritical corruption.
  4. And Las Vegas was attacked by a lone gunman, killing nearly sixty in the initial attack and wounding 500, with further details on both the gunman and any further loss of life currently unknown.

Okay, so firstly, yes Trump and his team need to understand that Puerto Rico (which is, yes, an island surrounded by water Trump) has particular needs related to its location, landscape, recent troubles and the devastation caused by Maria, attacking the people and a mayor, and failing to ask for aid for the territory for 11 days is not acceptable. Still, at this stage progress (slow, painful progress) is being made. Good luck to them all.

The tax reform is very heavily biased towards the rich, precludes an understanding of history both past and recent, in that tax cuts without relevant changes in structure and maintenance of the government can and will result in deficit growth without gain, there has never been a guarantee of growth from tax cuts that is a myth, and no assuming growth does not mean it will actually happen Mulvaney, base your analysis on what you know not on what you hope will happen. Bloody hell, weren’t they watching Kansas?

Price is gone. Yay.

And Las Vegas. There’s little that can be said to understand the mans actions, most of the discussion is on the prevalence of the arms he used, the ease of access, and actions on the republican side to stifle discussion towards such things. As someone from another nation with fairly liberal gun laws (European liberal, which means lax, not left wing) I can say rather confidently if there was ever an incident of such magnitude her in NZ, or even less, it would take very little time for reform and regulation on gun ownership to occur. Why America struggles to implement basic limits on ownership, carrying, and acquiring guns given their particular struggle with such violence is beyond me.

Importantly however, I believe we should respect the wishes of those who were there at the attack, and those who lost loved ones in the incident. If they have something to say, Listen, but we should show respect and solidarity in their time of grief. No one should suffer like this.

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Tax Reforms a pain

So, the Republican Party has done their best to pivot from healthcare (no surprise) to Tax Reform, believing that their years of preparation, and an underlying agreement on their policy platforms will win the day. Note the word agreement. Seems Ryan and McConnell forgot that their caucus includes moderates and conservatives.

So as you may have surmised, that pivot ain’t gonna be easy, regardless of the general agreements that republicans have that taxes are too high and complicated and that by cutting them America will see a massive boost in growth and productivity, because reasons (the math never checked out on that one but whatever). So, what’s the problem then? Well, it turns out there’s three things:

  1. They haven’t passed a budget:
    One of the major ways to pass any big reform is the reconciliation pathway (remember that) which means that so long as the bill doesn’t boost the deficit over ten years, the bill only needs 50 votes to pass. Problem is the Republicans have neither presented nor passed a budget, which means they can’t use reconciliation. The democrats are willing to work with the Republicans to pass a budget, but they have demands, including prioritizing the middle class over the rich, and reducing the deficit as best they can. McConnell apparently doesn’t care about the deficit anymore and has rejected any cooperation out of hand. Well, good luck with that I guess.
  2. Conservatives want to see a bill:
    The Freedom Caucus is demanding to see a bill before they provide any votes, reopening old wounds in the party, and reminding everyone that the Freedom Caucus loves to rain on everyone’s parade. As the leadership doesn’t yet have a bill, conservatives aren’t likely to be happy, which of course relates to the third problem.
  3. Conservatives and Moderates won’t necessarily work together:
    Moderates are concerned about the proposed cuts in the budget, and want to ensure that tax reform is not solely to the benefit of the rich, and are also willing to work with the democrats to ensure a bipartisan consensus. Conservatives want more cuts, and most definitely won’t work with Democrats. See the problem here? Given that the moderates have recently developed a backbone, it’s possible this may derail the process, especially if they get support from Sen. Collins (Mai.) and the like.

So it turns out, Tax Reforms complicated. Imagine that. Unless Ryan and McConnell can either get their caucus to cooperate (which isn’t impossible but neither is it likely) so that they can pass a budget, much less actual Tax Reform, it’s very doubtful this ‘once in a lifetime chance’ will happen for them again and I don’t doubt the leadership knows it.

So, maybe America’s looking at tax cuts, and not reform instead? Seems about as likely at this point as anything.