Thursday, February 8, 2018

U N C !!!!!! Beats Dook!!!!!  (With Rob Porter Gone, The Heat on John Kelly Is Increasing)  Labor Dept. Report Mysteriously Missing After Contradicting Trump  (Congress To Pass $300B Spending Bill) SHUTDOWN



“He Was F---ing Pissed” With Rob Porter Gone, the Heat on John Kelly Is Increasing

Trump is not happy with the chaos; Jared and Ivanka are trying to right the ship; and even Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest confidantes, is in trouble. 
A day after White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned amid allegations he physically abused his ex-wives, the Trump administration is still struggling to contain the fallout. The question of who knew what, and when, is being hotly debated in the West Wing. Chief of Staff John Kelly, whose relationship with Trump has been strained in recent weeks, is taking the lion’s share of the blame, as I reported yesterday. On Wednesday night, Donald Trump vented to advisers that Kelly had not fully briefed him on Porter’s issues with women until recently, two sources told me. Trump was also not aware of the severity of the alleged abuse until yesterday, when Ivanka walked into the Oval Office and showed her father a photo published in the Daily Mail of Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye. “He was fucking pissed,” said one Republican briefed on the conversation. According to a source, Ivanka and Jared Kushner have been discussing possible chief-of-staff replacements. The problem is there’s not an obvious candidate waiting in the wings.
West Wing staffers continue to wonder why Kelly would keep the Porter allegations from the president, and why he defended Porter so aggressively when presented with allegations by the Mail. Porter’s history with women had been known to Kelly for months, a source familiar with the matter said. (Porter has been working with a temporary security clearance because the allegations surfaced in an F.B.I. background interview.) According to a source, Kelly at first pushed back when White House officials wanted him to issue a second statement walking back his initial strong defense of Kelly. Kelly ultimately wrote that he was “shocked by the new allegations.”
The crisis also raises questions about Hope Hicks’s decision-making, and whether her romantic relationship with Porter clouded her judgment. According to a source, Hicks did not get a sign off from Trump for the White House’s initial statement defending Porter, in which Kelly was quoted calling Porter a “man of true integrity.” She drafted the statement with her close friend, Kushner’s White House spokesman Josh Raffel, whom she’s known since their days working for Manhattan P.R. strategist Matthew Hiltzik. This morning, Hicks continued to defend Porter in private, a source said, telling people she thinks the allegations aren’t true. In recent weeks, Trump has been angry at Hicks for her role in approving interviews with Michael Wolff, a Republican close to the White House told me. (The White House did not respond to requests for comment.)
There is a sense that the Porter situation may finally push Trump to move against Kelly, according to several Republicans close to the White House. Last night, a source said, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called Trump and urged him to fire Kelly.
Hicks’s job, meanwhile, seems safe, even if the president is angry with her. As Trump’s gatekeeper, she’s one of the most powerful people in the White House, protected by Trump almost like a member of the Trump family.

Labor Department Report Mysteriously Disappears After Contradicting Trump

The White House has a curious habit of burying data that makes its policies look bad.
Back in December, Trump’s Department of Labor proposed nixing an Obama-era rule that said tips are the property of the service-facing employees who earn them, and that employers cannot force them to share. Instead, the D.O.L. claimed that if workers like waiters and bartenders were required to pool their tips, the money could be divided up to reward employees like dishwashers and line cooks, who do not receive gratuity. At first glance, this seemed like a fair deal! So fair, in fact, that one may have questioned whether Donald Trump himself had actually signed off on it. A simple reading of the administration’s tipping proposal, however, makes it clear why it appealed to the food and beverage purveyor -turned-president; while in theory it could narrow the pay gap between front- and back-of-house employees, in practice owners would not be required to distribute the money at all, and could instead use it any way they see fit (including, obviously, simply pocketing it).
Critics were quick to pan the plan. And they would likely have been even angrier, had the Department of Labor actually published the results of a study showing the extent to which repealing the rule would screw over workers. Instead, according to a report from Bloomberg Law, after Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was presented with an analysis showing that workers “could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal,” he first “ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact.” But, despite showing “progressively reduced tip losses,” the numbers still looked bad. So Acosta turned to option C:  bury the report. With the White House’s blessing, of course:

Acosta and his team [were] said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal. The officials disagreed with assumptions in the analysis that employers would retain their employees’ gratuities, rather than re-distribute the money to other hourly workers. They wound up receiving approval from the White House to publish a proposal Dec. 5 that removed the economic transfer data altogether, the sources said.
Team Trump has all but made it a policy to hide analysis that directly contradicts its aims. Last September, The New York Times reported that, in order to build a case for admitting the fewest number of refugees since 1980, data showing that refugees generated $63 billion more in revenue than they cost over the past decade had been conveniently left out of a Department of Health and Human Services report. That same month, The Wall Street Journal noted that the Treasury Department had removed a 2012 economic analysis that contradicted the administration’s claims that workers would benefit most from Trump’s giant corporate tax cut.
But hey, burger-flippers should totally trust the guy who wanted Andy Puzder — a fast-food mogul who prefers machines to human employees because ”there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex, or race discrimination case”—to serve in his Cabinet. It’s not as though Trump, who probably pines for the days when business owners didn’t have to comply with workplace health and safety laws that serve no other purpose than to eat into their profits, has done anything to suggest he’s not fully on the side of the little guy.
Paul Ryan will never stop fighting (to gut the social safety net)
Back in December, high off the successful passage of the tax bill, Paul Ryan lustily eyed the next item on his to-do list:  welfare “reform” — you know, in order to close the massive hole the tax bill is expected to blow in the deficit. Unfortunately for Ryan, who has dreamed of cutting off lazy takers since he was a boy, not everyone in the party was on the same page. Mitch McConnell shot down the idea, saying that the next item on the legislative agenda would have to be something bipartisan-friendly, like infrastructure. But Ryan is undeterred  . . . .

From our woman, Bess Levin, at "The Levin Report:"

At some point before midnight on Thursday, Congress will vote on a $300 billion spending deal that’s expected to pass, which is somewhat surprising given the number of people who think it sucks. According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the proposed deal will add $320 billion to deficits over the next 10 years ($418 billion when factoring in additional interest costs). For the 2019 fiscal year alone, the group expects the deficit to hit $1.2 trillion. Sending the national debt shooting toward the stratosphere is never a great look, but combined with Trump’s ill-timed tax cuts, it could prove especially dangerous for markets, which are already inching toward the edge of a cliff.
“[This is] exactly the opposite of what the economic textbooks say lawmakers should be doing,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, told Bloomberg, adding, “Deficit-financed tax cuts and spending increases in a full-employment economy will result in more Fed tightening and higher interest rates.” That, in turn, will likely cause investors to flip out like they have been for the past several days. “An increase in debt instruments, people dumping bonds and concerns about higher inflation — that is a toxic combination,” said Alexis Crow, head of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s geopolitical investing group. “Since the crisis, debt has not disappeared. It’s an unsustainable situation.”
Lawmakers are, if possible, even more skeptical. For far-right conservatives, the agreement represents about 300 billion more dollars than they’re willing to spend, and, if you ask Freedom Caucus member Mark Sanford, may hasten the apocalypse. “I think that this is ultimately a deal that makes us weaker as a civilization,“ the South Carolina representative told reporters, before adding that “it makes president Obama look like a master of financial restraint,” which is quite the statement given that Republicans like Sanford acted like Obama was Satan with a black card the entire time he was in office. (Jesus, of course, was a real miser.) On the left, people like Nancy Pelosi are fine with “the product,” but have a problem with “the process,” wherein Paul Ryan has refused to commit to holding a vote on legislation that would address the fate of immigrants whose DACA status will expire in March.
On the bright side, there are some people who think the proposed deal is great! They include:  racehorse owners and NASCAR, both of which are getting tax breaks; a school in Kentucky called Berea College, which will be exempted from a provision in last year’s tax bill that imposes a new tax on higher-education endowments; and rum producers, who will also enjoy their own tax breaks. Mazel!
Donald Trump finds a new and unique way to be an asshole
They said it couldn’t be done. They said it wasn’t possible. They said how could he, when he’s seemingly exhausted all possible avenues for an achievement like this? They underestimated him, yet again:
The Trump administration is considering making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to get permanent residency if they have received certain public benefits such as food assistance, in a move that could sharply restrict legal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security has drafted proposed new rules seen by Reuters that would allow immigration officers to scrutinize a potential immigrant’s use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits to determine if they could become a public burden.
For example, U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.
The draft, which reads a lot like it was written by senior adviser Stephen “white American males should be a protected class ”Miller, states:  “Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient and are relying on the U.S. government and state and local entities for resources instead of their families, sponsors or private organizations. An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the United States.” As a reminder, when the administration was trying to make the case that the U.S. should restrict the number of refugees it allows into the country to the lowest levels since 1980, it conveniently left out data that showed refugees generate $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost over the last decade. So take the latest immigrants are a drain on the economy and preventing us from Making America Great Again screed with a grain of salt.
Lawmakers would like to know why Mick Mulvaney is reportedly giving Equifax a free pass
The half of the U.S. population that was affected by the company’s data breach are probably interested, too:
A group of 31 U.S. senators said on Thursday they had written to the leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (C.F.P.B.) demanding information on the consumer watchdog’s stalled probe into credit reporting agency Equifax Inc’s massive data breach.
The letter adds to mounting pressure on Mick Mulvaney, the interim head of the C.F.P.B., to resume a full-scale probe into the company after Reuters reported that the bureau had pulled back from an investigation into how hackers were able to steal data Equifax had gathered on around 143 million Americans.

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