Headlines: September 28, 2020
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The New York Times dropped a massive political bombshell on Sunday with the publication of in-depth analysis of President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns over several decades that were leaked to them. The Times found that in 2016 and 2017 he paid a mere $750 per year in federal income taxes—a fraction of what most people in his income bracket and far lower pay. The Times, which did not have returns for 2018 and 2019, also revealed that, “in 2010 he claimed, and received, an income tax refund totaling $72.9 million — all the federal income tax he had paid for 2005 through 2008, plus interest.” He is currently battling the IRS over that tax refund and could owe back the taxes. Additionally, the President is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt that he has personally guaranteed and that will be due in the next few years. Although Trump has claimed for years that he became President out of a civic duty, the tax returns paint a picture of a failed businessman who was desperate to revive his star power in order to leverage it to stay financially afloat. According to the Times, Trump now, “depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.” Among the other jaw-dropping revelations from the leak of Trump’s tax returns are the fact that, “Even while declaring losses, he has managed to enjoy a lavish lifestyle by taking tax deductions on what most people would consider personal expenses, including residences, aircraft and $70,000 in hairstyling for television.” And, he has paid his own daughter Ivanka Trump a consulting fee in order to lower his tax bill. The New York Times’ Executive editor Dean Baquet explained that, “Mr. Trump’s businesses appear to have benefited from his position, and his far-flung holdings have created potential conflicts between his own financial interests and the nation’s diplomatic interests.”
The President predictably dismissed the Times’ reporting as “fake news,” but also that the IRS treats him badly. He faced harsh criticism from all corners of social media. New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “In 2016 & ‘17, I paid thousands of dollars a year in taxes *as a bartender.* Trump paid $750. He contributed less to funding our communities than waitresses & undocumented immigrants.” California Representative Ted Lieu called the President, “a massive fraud,” who, “grossly mismanaged his businesses & personal finances the same way he mismanaged our government: by repeatedly lying and conning those around him.”
The other big news over the weekend was not so surprising. President Trump officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The GOP wasted no time in printing T-shirts with the words “Notorious A.C.B.” to promote Barrett with a play on the pop-culture reference that Ginsburg was fondly known by. Senator Lindsey Graham who has been excoriated for his hypocrisy on allowing Trump to appoint a justice so close to the election has announced that Barrett’s confirmation hearings will begin on October 12. Fox News reports that the White House has readied an aggressive public relations plan to push back on criticism against her. A senior White House official told Fox, “We will need to be knife fighters with the opposition, and will be prepared to marshal information quickly, and disseminate it to push back on any false narratives or attacks on her and her family.” So far it is not clear if Senate Democrats have the power or even the political will to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearings. But Politico reported that, “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has his caucus on board with an effort to disrupt and obstruct Senate Republicans, using a wide range of procedural tools to try to make it difficult for the Senate majority leader.” Progressive activists on Saturday demonstrated outside Schumer’s Brooklyn, New York house to demand that he use, “all the tools in his toolbox to save our democracy.” This was Schumer’s statement on Sunday, urging voters to call GOP Senators to stop Barrett’s nomination.
Much has been revealed about Barrett’s problematic views. According to the New York Times she has, “compiled an almost uniformly conservative voting record in cases touching on abortion, gun rights, discrimination and immigration.” The Washington Post revealed that she spoken multiple times at a training program for Christian law students—a program whose aim is to promote a, “distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law.” Her pro-business, anti-worker judicial approach means that she, “often ruled in ways friendly to employers,” as per one commentator. Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, who faces Trump in the first debate of the election on Tuesday, called Trump’s push to fill Ginsburg’s seat as, “an abuse of power.” Biden, who has been a staunch defender of the Affordable Care Act also warned that Republicans now, “see an opportunity to overturn the Affordable Care Act on their way out the door.”
Ahead of the debate Trump in what appears to be a desperate bid to undermine his poor polling performance, is insisting to his supporters that Biden is taking performance-enhancing drugs because the internet says so. The Biden campaign responded in a bizarre fashion to Trump’s repeated dares over drug testing with deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield saying, “Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it… We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who p***ed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19.”
Following the statement Trump planned to address his government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Monday. The U.S. is losing the battle against the virus with a whopping 55,000 new cases of infection on Friday – the largest single day total in more than a month. While Trump had attempted to write off the virus as a problem for Democratic-leaning locales, the pandemic is now surging in primarily “red” states. A new report exposes that the Department of Health and Human Services is spending a massive amount of tax dollars–$300 million—on an ad campaign to positively spin the government’s response to the virus. A top spokesperson for the HHS Michael Caputo, who stepped down last week, conceived the plan saying the ad campaign was, “demanded of me by the president of the United States. Personally.” According to Politico which first reported the campaign, “Caputo’s team in June requisitioned $300 million that Congress had previously appropriated to the CDC.” One former Obama-era HHS official was shocked saying, “CDC hasn’t yet done an awareness campaign about Covid guidelines — but they are going to pay for a campaign about how to get rid of our despair? Run by political appointees in the press shop? Right before an election?”
In other election news, Republican Senator Tom Cotton has introduced a bizarre bill that undermines people’s right to vote. The bill would force an end to vote counting within 48 hours of the November 3rd election – which Cotton presumably thinks would benefit the president he remains loyal to. Meanwhile as per a new report House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is readying herself and her colleagues for the possibility of an Electoral College tie that the House would be forced to break – something that last happened in 1876.