Monday, December 4, 2017

Will architects of GOP tax bill deny collusion with North Korea? Is Kim jealous of GOP tax bill?

Find answers to these and other burning questions in this Mournday Mourning blurry flurry of fact and fancy.

Warning - much, but not all, of what follows here this morning is satire - including the title. Consider this post as a test. Can you figure out what here is satire and what is “real”?

Word of the day: attributabnto. That is what one of the handwritten words on the GOP tax bill looks like. It ranks right up there with covfefe. All but one GOP senator voted for attributabnto. More on uninformed votes on illegible legislation below.

Quote of the day: “I feel like I’m stuck in a Dickensian nightmare.” (Steve Benen’s summary remark on the GOP tax bill and the GOP attitudes toward the Children’s Health Insurance Program.)

Illustrated news for the day: Toons from AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona target trickle-down economics and more. My first favorite is here. My second is this one.

First, let’s pursue the title thread. Scriber’s usually unreliable sources had this one wrong. If there was any collusion between the tax bill’s authors and North Korea it came to an end with the Senate vote. North Korea was upstaged by the Senate Republicans.

What might North Korea leader Kim Jong Un be thinking of the damage to be done by the GOP tax bill?

Andy Borowitz (satirist writing in The New Yorker) proposes an answer and reports that Kim Jong Un Fears That G.O.P. Tax Bill Makes His Plan to Destroy U.S. Redundant.

PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report)—Kim Jong Un is concerned that his long-standing plan to destroy the United States has been made totally irrelevant by the Republican tax bill moving through the Senate, a source close to the North Korean dictator said on Friday.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Kim fears that his scheme to turn the United States into an uninhabitable hellhole has been to a large extent upstaged by a similar proposal from congressional Republicans.

“You have to understand, destroying America is something that Kim and his family have been plotting for decades,” the source said. “To see the Republicans swoop in at the last second and basically steal that idea—it’s got to hurt.”

According to the source, Kim has been watching C-span non-stop, praying that the Republicans’ plan to end life as Americans know it might come undone at the last moment, but he is “not getting his hopes up.”

“After having such a wonderful missile test, he should be on top of the world this week,” the source said. “Instead, he’s afraid that all his hard work has been for nothing. He now understands why so many Americans despise the Republicans.”

One of the reasons for such disdain is that the GOP [is] poised to raise middle class taxes to benefit corporations. Rachel Maddow reports on the slapdash tax bill that Republicans unveiled at the last minute before a vote and intend to pass despite deep unpopularity and cost to middle class Americans in favor of extremely rich people. Duration: 3:21. She showed examples of the illegible handwritten additions and substitutions to the GOP tax bill.

Montana Senator Jon Tester cast scorn and ridicule on the GOP bill’s handwritten amendments. The Washington Post has the video clip and more in Democrats fume over ‘absurd’ GOP tax bill full of last-minute handwritten edits.

“Hey, happy holidays, everybody,” Tester said in a video posted just after 7 p.m. “It’s the night we’re going to be voting on the tax bill. I just got the tax bill 25 minutes ago.”

In both hands he held a ream of paper several inches thick, then set it on his desk with a thud. From the top of the 479-page pile, he plucked a page that contained handwritten edits scrawled in the margin.

“I want you to take a look at this, folks. This is your government at work,” Tester said in the video. “Here’s the bill as it’s written. Here’s the modifications that are in it . . . Can you tell me what that word is?”

The camera zoomed into a cursive word that looked, at first blush, something like “attributabnto.”

“This is Washington, D.C. at its worst,” Tester wrote on Twitter. “Montanans deserve so much better.”

But that is what the GOP senators voted on and approved. You’d think that a preschool child could do better. But wait! One did.

Andy Borowitz (satirist at The New Yorker) discovered that Scribbles by Mitch McConnell’s Grandchild Accidentally Incorporated Into G.O.P. Tax Bill.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The version of the tax bill that Republican senators voted for early Saturday morning included scribbles in the margins by Mitch McConnell’s grandchild, the Senate Majority Leader has confirmed.

The scribbles, which the two-year-old drew when his grandfather left a copy of the bill unattended during Thanksgiving, were mistaken by Republican staff members for the work of McConnell himself and were hurriedly incorporated into the bill.

McConnell struck a philosophical note when he disclosed to reporters that the random crayon squiggles were on the verge of becoming the law of the land. “Laws are like sausages—it’s better not to see them being made,” he chuckled.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the toddler’s scrawl would add one trillion dollars to the budget deficit and result in ten million Americans losing their homes, but said that the scribbles were the most coherent passage in the bill.

That child is fortunate to be born into a family that can afford its health care. Others in this great land are not so lucky.

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reports a jaw-dropping comment by GOP Sen. Orin Hatch: During tax debate, Republican questions funding for children’s health.

Congress was supposed to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by Oct. 1. As regular readers know, that was the day current funding for the program, which has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, expired. That was exactly two months ago. As things stand, there is no solution and Republicans don’t appear to be working on one.

Last night, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), an ardent CHIP proponent, urged Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who helped write the original CHIP legislation before moving sharply to the right, to restore funding for the program before families get hurt. Daily Kos flagged this striking clip from the Senate floor.

For those who can’t watch clips online, this was the case from the Utah Republican:

“[L]et me tell you something: we’re going to do CHIP. There’s no question about it in my mind. It’s got to be done the right way. But we, the reason CHIP’s having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore.”

Hatch went on to condemn the idea of “more and more spending.” After praising the “terrific job” CHIP has done for families who need help, he immediately added, “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves – won’t lift a finger – and expect the federal government to do everything.”

The context for the exchange between Hatch and Brown was quite extraordinary: this happened on the Senate floor during a debate over the Republican tax plan.

In other words, Orrin Hatch was trying to pass a massive series of tax cuts, the vast majority of which will benefit large corporations and the wealthiest of the wealthy. What’s more, as the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell recently explained, The Republican tax bill is often described as being weighted toward ‘the rich.’ But that’s not the full story. It’s actually weighted toward the loafer, the freeloader, the heir, the passive investor who spends his time yachting and charity-balling. In short: the idle rich.”

The price tag for the GOP tax plan is roughly $1.5 trillion.

Meanwhile, there’s the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which needs $15 billion. In other words, CHIP costs literally 1% of the overall cost of the Republican tax package.

And yet, there was Orrin Hatch, a supporter of his party’s tax cuts, making the case on the Senate floor that CHIP’s “having trouble” because “we don’t have money anymore.”

I feel like I’m stuck in a Dickensian nightmare.

We are.

Catherine Rampell’s essay on the Budget shows GOP is out to shaft the poor, middle class. Here are some of her remarks.

It’s not enough to give money to rich people. Apparently, Republicans want to kick the poor and middle class in the face, too.

I used to think the Republican Party’s obsession with top-heavy tax cuts was about pleasing wealthy donors and maybe also fulfilling some misguided Randian fantasy. If the poor and middle class happened to be collateral damage, so be it.

But it’s starting to look like shafting the little guy has become a feature, not a bug, of the GOP’s budget-busting tax plan.

Despite all those fanciful promises about how tax cuts will pay for themselves, Republican politicians know their legislation will blow a major hole in the deficit. According to lawmakers’ own official scorekeepers, the Senate bill would cost $1 trillion over the coming decade, even with additional economic growth.

And in recent days and weeks, prominent Republicans have pledged to patch over this budget hole by cutting programs that millions of Americans need to get by.

At an event on Wednesday, for example, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., linked tax cuts to coming entitlement cuts.

“Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit,” he said. “But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.”

Income inequality is near record highs, and yet Republicans’ regressive tax and spending plans forge forward. It’s time for voters to ask their elected officials: How much upward distribution of wealth will ever be enough?

And so as the holiday season draws near, by its tax bill and budgetary priorities, the GOP wishes “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

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