Whether you get a refund or owe extra to the IRS at filing time is a function not just of your total taxes owed, but also of how much tax is withheld from your paycheck by your employer on paydays. And the big story here is that as a result of the new tax law, the Treasury Department tweaked things so that on average taxpayers’ withholdings fell by more than their actual taxes owed.
A highly credible new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that the ultimate fallout from Hurricane Maria was 4,600 “excess deaths” — more than twice the mortality of Hurricane Katrina and the deadliest natural disaster on US soil in more than a century. Suspicion will, of course, linger for years that there’s a connection between Trump’s habit of weaponizing anti-Latino hysteria as the centerpiece of his politics and the unfolding of an essentially unprecedented human tragedy in a Spanish-speaking US territory. The possibility that Trump and his team simply have no idea what they’re doing should not, however, be dismissed out of hand.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis is implicated in one of the largest business scandals of the past decades, described by the Securities and Exchange Commission as an “elaborate, years-long fraud” through which Theranos, led by CEO Elizabeth Holmes and president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, “exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.”
Democrats had another good Tuesday night of special elections, this time in Missouri, where Mike Revis won a 3-point victory in House District 97, which President Donald Trump had won by 28 points. That 31-point swing relative to the 2016 election was extraordinarily large, but actually not the greatest swing of the night. Over in House District 144, Democrats took a relatively narrow 53-47 loss in a district that Trump carried by 59 points.
Trump is holding the office of president, but he’s not doing the job of president. He seems to have no real idea what’s going on, even with his own signature policy moves. Some of his misstatements have the color of propaganda, but often he seems to be caught up in other people’s propaganda or even to have misunderstood his own talking points. He’s disengaged from the details of big questions like NAFTA — “I may terminate NAFTA, I may not,” he says profoundly. He can’t even describe his own negotiating positions in the immigration standoff accurately.
Republicans are now in trouble everywhere. The easy thing for Republicans to tell themselves after the stinging loss of a Senate seat in Alabama is that they only went down to defeat because the party had the misfortune to nominate someone accused of preying on teenage girls. And there is something to that. But the Republican Party nominated a man accused of sexual misconduct to run for president in 2016, and that didn’t stop him from winning 62 percent of the vote in Alabama.
As the White House staff tries to put together a budget for President Donald Trump, they face a fundamental problem. Trump has promised to cut taxes, increase spending on the military and infrastructure, and avoid cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The only way to do that without producing an exploding budget deficit is to assume a big increase in economic growth. And Nick Timiraos at the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump is planning to do just that — by making things up.
It’s easy to miss amid Donald Trump’s frenetic pace of activity and nonstop media coverage, but the most important story in American politics right now isn’t about what Trump is doing: It’s that the opposition is working.
A lot happened in the 2016 campaign, but one of the things Donald Trump did to win the election was shift to the left on a number of key issues — promising to avoid cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits and adopting a longstanding Democratic pledge to let Medicare negotiate bulk discounts in the price it pays for prescription drugs.
He’s paying fraud fines and collecting bribes — and distracting you with Hamilton tweets. The truth is that nothing about the Hamilton story - is in any way important to how he runs the country. By contrast, foreign governments directly putting money into Donald Trump’s pocket is very important. The fact that these attempted bribes are being paid to a man who is also paying out millions of dollars to avoid standing trial for his corrupt business practices is very important.