Shutdown Showdown – Who’s at Fault? An Investor/Trader Perspective

We are now in 15 days of a partial government shutdown with no signs of any conclusion in sight. For those not directly impacted, it’s easy to just dismiss it as just government  dysfunction where everyone involved is to blame, or perhaps take a side and support either Republicans or Democrats.

As with most things, if you look at things from an objective nonpartisan point of view- it’s pretty clear determining who are the main ones at fault and deserving blame.

In the world of investing/trading, one of the hardest lessons to learn is not to be biased in how the market will behave. The reason why so many people have problems knowing when to enter the market as well as exit is that they expect the market to follow their beliefs rather than understanding what the market is doing and following the market’s lead. If they decide the market is bullish, they will buy regardless of market behavior, and the same applies to if they think they should be bearish. This results in hurt feelings and deep account losses as the market will do what the MARKET WILLS, not what the trader/investor wants.

So to be good at investing/trading, you have to put bias aside and just go with the objective facts, and let the facts determine your conclusion. If you can do this you’ll also find it easy to apply it to all other areas of decision making in your life, which is really helpful in making the right choices.

So applying unbiased thinking to the current government shutdown-

Facts:

We have 3 branches of government in the US:

1) Executive – President and his Cabinet

2) Legislative – House and Senate

3) Judicial – Supreme Court

To get a Bill passed- such as a Bill approving border wall funding, it needs to be written up and passed in both the House and Senate, and signed by the President.

President Trump, after making continual statements during his campaign that Mexico would be the one paying for the wall, now wants Americans to fund it instead, which is one of the reasons Democrats object to doing that.

The Senate needs 60 votes to approve a Bill and there weren’t enough votes to pass a Border Wall Funding Bill. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a continuing resolution to keep the government funded and that passed with over 90% of the Senate vote. At the time, Trump was okay with this. After the Senate passed that Bill, right wing media pundits went on Fox News and blasted the President for giving up on the wall and saying he was weak. As a result, when the Bill went to the House for approval, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated that the President was no longer willing to approve this Bill and therefore would not take a vote on it.

With the government funding deadline approaching, Trump now stated that he would not approve a government funding Bill unless it included $5+ Billion for a border wall.

This is where the system breaks and shows Trump is clearly the one to blame for the shutdown. The RIGHT procedure to get a Bill passed is to get it approved in the House and Senate by either the Presidents party majority votes or convincing enough non party members to join in. If you can’t get the numbers, then you campaign to get more members of your party elected to enable party majority voting to succeed.

What Trump is doing is bypassing normal government procedures and using a government shutdown as a hostage to force Democrats to comply with his demands. This action doesn’t make much sense because it makes the assumption that only Democrats will suffer during a government shutdown. In reality, Americans from BOTH parties suffer. The government employs Americans, not strictly Democrats or Republicans. Over 800,000 government workers from all states are either temporarily laid off (furloughed), or even worse, still required to work (because their job is considered “essential”) with no pay until the government is reopened, which includes Border Patrol agents.

One tangible result that will affect everyone is that the IRS is now only working with minimal staff and have stated that can’t process any refunds during this time. Another is a shortage of TSA employees at airports which increases travel security concerns.

 

Here’s a State by State map of how the shutdown affects the country:

 

As can clearly be seen – some of the most impacted areas are Republican majority States and both parties are suffering from the impact.

As Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are getting harmed, it makes absolutely no sense for the President to think he has the upper hand in threatening to continue to harm Americans if he doesn’t get his demands met.

Should the Democrats concede to his demands just to prevent further harm to those affected? The answer should be absolutely not, because it opens the door for future and continual misuse and abuse of this strong-arm extortion tactic.

For those cheering and supporting the President’s actions, would you feel the same way and support a Democratic President who bypassed normal legislation and made demands to pass his pet projects in the name of “national security” or “America’s well being”? Do we really want to start using extortion/hostage tactics as a new form of governing? This kind of behavior adds to and accelerates overall degradation of our government and should NOT be allowed to continue or succeed.

Here’s a question we all should be asking – during government shutdowns, why does the President, his Cabinet, House and Senate all continue to get paid as if it’s business as usual? I think we can all agree that if payments stopped for these folks just like they do for folks on the lower part of the totem pole, they would have a more pressing incentive to not have shutdowns or have them resolved much more quickly.

So how will this shutdown end with both Trump and the Dems at an impasse? Trump and the Republicans do not have any advantage here because the President has already taken full credit for the shutdown, which has been captured for posterity on video, even though he is trying to shift blame now.

The most directly impacted are those Federal workers who are not getting paid, and as their situations become more increasingly dire in ALL States, including Republicans ones, and the Dems offering legislation to open the government back up without including the Presidents demanded funding, pressure will increase on Republicans to end the shutdown. The elections of 2020 are on their minds and people in their State suffering financial hardship and facing homelessness and ruined credit ratings because of the failure of Trump and GOP to behave like rational adults will result in very ugly press coverage that will be used against them during election time.

Lastly, the wall itself has been estimated to cost as high as $70 Billion and doesn’t account for country access via tunnels, air travel, sea, or land via Canada. Trump is making a last stand over an empty campaign promise that wouldn’t do much of anything even it he got it other than to make a claim that he “got wall funding”, which is like you or I claiming to have home buying funding with just a few hundred dollars. Meanwhile those not getting paid or losing government services are paying the actual price.

Congress can pass a government funding Bill and override the President’s veto, if they have the will.

 

 

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Midterm Elections 2018: Red Wave or Blue Wave?

With just 5 days to go before the midterm elections, predictions vary wildly about the outcomes depending on who you speak to. If you speak with Democrats, they say they expect a Blue Wave election of Democrats winning. If you listen to Trump or other Republicans, the prediction turns to a Red Wave with Trump consolidating more control with additional Republican victories.

Based on these widely different expectations, it’s clear that both can’t be right, so which outcome is more likely? Analysis of the data helps to clear the fog…..

First, lets get a break down of what the voting electorate looks like. Of the total population registered to vote, political party affiliation breaks down as follows:

According to latest polling from Gallup:

Republicans: 28%

Democrats: 30%

Independents: 39%

What this data should make clear is that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have an electoral majority such that they can dominate elections with just their base voters.  It’s easy to think that one side or the other may dominate based on all the media coverage and loud vocal output, but in reality the strength of both parties are limited. It’s clear that the Independent voter serves as the deciding factor in determining who wins.

How do the Independents feel about Trump and Republicans versus the Dems? Data shows they are not happy the way things are going, with 60% disapproving of Trump’s course of action and policies. This is a red flag that should have Republicans worried.

Next, a search of current polls (RealClearPolitics, FiveThirtyEight) state the Dems are likely to win a majority in the House while Reps are likely to keep the Senate.

But are the polls accurate? The polling for 2016 elections left much to be desired since the majority of polls didn’t have Trump winning. I know they like to counter that Trump lost the popular vote, so the polls were somewhat accurate, but the bottom line is they did NOT get their State victory polling predictions correct.

Is this election season any better? I don’t believe so, and I think polling will get worse as time goes on. Polls are usually taken over the phone, and land line phones are becoming a thing of the past while most people avoid taking calls on their mobile from numbers they don’t recognize. Therefore, it’s getting harder for them to reach as many different people as they would like. Next, voter turnout for this is election is expected to break records and rival a presidential election year. This will be an outlier year different from the past midterm elections. More people voting typically favors Democrats. This is due to the fact that Republicans normally vote in higher numbers by percentage on average so the extra participation would be coming from Independents and Dems.

I believe the biggest wildcard this time around will be voter participation among the groups that typically show up in small numbers, especially during midterms: minorities, young voters (18 -29), and those who are low income.  These groups trend progressive when they vote. All signs point to increased enthusiasm and participation by these groups, and they could make all the difference.

My predictions are as follows:

The chance of a Red Wave is small at best since the Republicans have lost the support of the majority of Independent voters. They can’t dominate with just their 28% voting base.

I believe there will be a Blue Wave, but the question will be of what size or magnitude:

Scenario 1: Minorities, youth voters, and the low income follow the past trends and don’t show up in force.

There should still be enough enthusiasm and momentum among the Dems and Independents to turn the House Blue, with the Reps keeping control of the Senate. The polls are using this as the likely outcome.

Scenario 2: Minorities, youth voters, and the low income turn up in presidential election numbers or greater.

This is the wild card that isn’t being factored by the majority of polls. If this happens it’s quite possible that most areas that show “leaning red” on current polls will turn blue on election day. What we could have is the biggest Blue Wave upset since the last major Red Wave of 2010. In this scenario, the Dems could win control of both the House and Senate and Texas could get its first Dem Senator since 1993.

Needless to say, scenario #2 would be the stuff made of nightmares for Trump and the GOP. Not that they aren’t worried about scenario #1, but scenario #2 is just a much bigger scale of loss that will cost them more.

 

 

Trump Presidency: The Age of Continuous Controversies and Scandals

Like the first year, Trumps second year has been chock full of controversial and scandalous politics and news on a near daily basis. It’s a daunting task trying to keep up with everything happening with this presidency, as we move from one big controversy to the next with very little down time. Here’s a running summary of the biggest ones that caught my attention year to date:

Trump not a self-made man who started with “just $1 million” – employed tax fraud to get over $400 million from his father, the true source of his wealth.

His father set up trusts that provided trump with $200K at age 3, and by age 18 had had accumulated more than $1 million from his father, and the money kept on coming after that. Trump and family reportedly engaged in tax fraud to transfer their fathers assets. Trump is said to have gotten close to $500 million from his father- showing his claim of being a self-made billionaire to be false.

Health Insurance ACA still under attack

Trump promised a better healthcare system than the ACA. The GOP failed to come up with a superior solution, and instead offered an inferior solution that covered far less while stripping the ACA of money. The general public was not pleased. The GOP plans didn’t pass, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from undermining the ACA doing things like no longer covering pre-existing conditions despite not having a replacement.

Trump’s family separation/orphan creation policy for immigrants coming to America seeking asylum

Trump and his Admin thought it would be a good idea to create permanent orphans by separating children from their parents without any process to keep track of who the kids belonged to. The public outrage of this forced them to stop this policy. There are still hundreds of kids that can’t be matched with their parents, who may have already been deported without them. The Trump Admin thought Americans wouldn’t care what happened to immigrants and their children- they were wrong. With the mental damage being done to these kids experiencing prolonged separation, Trump and his admin have been compared to Nazi’s. To add insult to injury, Trump tried to blame the democrats for this policy that his admin was executing. That also didn’t work.

After massive tax cuts for the wealthy – GOP wants to pay for them with cuts  Medicare and Social Security

The tax cuts that were promised to pay for themselves have produced historically high US deficits. The GOP solution to make up the difference is to put the debt on the backs of the Social Security and Medicaid senior safety nets.

In other words, the GOP wants to pay for their tax cuts to the ultra wealthy using our retirement and medical security.

Trump threatens Government shutdown unless he gets border wall funding

Trump promised Mexico would pay to build a border wall. Now he is threatening to not fund the government and have it shut down unless the US govt pays for the wall. This is essentially attempted extortion by a US President to his own people at a time all areas of government are under his republican control.

New rule would deny green cards to immigrants who apply for food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing

Trump administration proposing new rules that would punish LEGAL immigrants who would dare to seek government assistance for themselves or their children by permanently denying them green cards. So much for the words on the Statue of Liberty that most of our ancestors read- “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddles masses yearning to breathe free…”

Trump’s disastrous meeting with Putin, raising up Putin at America’s expense

This meeting will be one for the record books as a low point of US Global power and influence. Contrary to his EU bashing, Trump was all lovey-dovey with Russia, to the point where he backed Putin over the word of our OWN intelligence officers.

Both GOP and Dems were appalled at Trump’s behavior.  Even Fox News tore into Trump over the Putin Meeting where Trump took sides with Putin over our own intelligence agencies. It was so bad that Trump said he “misspoke” in an attempt to walk back what he said.

To date Trump has NOT revealed to his security chief what was discussed with Putin during their private 2 hour meeting.

Insider Resistance in White House?

According to a New York Times Op-Ed, there is a member of Trump’s Administration trying to protect us from the worst of Trumps behaviors. If true, this shows a high level of chaos in his cabinet, matching what was said by books by Michael Wolff and Bob Woodward.

Trump’s Election Integrity Commission preparing to declare voter fraud without any proof

The commission that was formed because of Trump’s outrageous claim that he lost the popular vote to Clinton due to millions of illegal votes. Investigation found absolutely no massive voter fraud- but were trying to produce a report stating otherwise. The commission was eventually disbanded.

Trump playing much more golf than Obama after criticizing Obama numerous times before taking office

Trump liked to complain about Obama playing too much golf during his Presidency: Trump tweeting about Obama playing too much golf 

Turns out Trump’s record of gold playing while President eclipses Obama by a wide margin: Trump Golf Game Tracker

House Republicans have secret list of known Trump scandals they are trying to keep under wraps

Republicans know about Trump’s problems and missteps, but not only do they refuse to take action against them, they instead seek to cover them up: House Republicans Trump Scandal List

Trump’s Poor behavior of Senator McCain’s passing and funeral

Trump intended to give the passing of Senator John McCain, a war hero who served public office for over 30 years, a minimal 2 day half-staff flag flying at the White House rather than extend the time through the final funeral commencement and burial, which is typical for most prominent political figures. When the flag was raised after two days, Trump was criticized by both the GOP and Dems for such a dishonorable move. American Veterans were very upset that a long time public servant and POW/war hero would be treated in such short shrift.  Trump was forced to re-lower the flag after backing down.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Trump couldn’t find the time to tweet anything complimentary about McCain, but did manage to tweet complaining about trade during the funeral: Trumps tweets during McCains’s funeral

Insults Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May in news interview prior to meeting

During Trump’s trip abroad to visit UK Prime Minister Theresa May, he decided to have an interview where he basically said she screwed up Brexit, the US likely won’t make a deal with her, and complimented a rival and detractor of her, Boris Johnson, saying he would make a “fine Prime Minister”.

Trump cancels pay raise for federal workers after granting huge tax cuts for wealthy

After claiming the US is in such great financial shape to enact massive tax cuts primarily benefiting the wealthy, now says the US needs to tighten its belt on the backs of federal workers by denying them their cost of living raises.

Insults trading partner Canada during interview during tense negotiations that stalled progress

Trump’s intended bad-faith negotiation with Canada for trade is leaked. maybe this should be in “Art of the Deal”: it’s never a good idea to tell others you have no intention to work on a deal via mutual compromise.

Trumps denies factual data from on Puerto Rico’s hurricane related deaths- calls it a “Democrat Conspiracy”

After Puerto Rico released their official death toll of 3000 resulting from Hurricane Maria last year, Trump denied the facts and blamed the Democrats. Trump regularly calls REAL news he finds unfavorable to him “fake”.

National Park Service felt pressure to edit Trump’s inauguration speech photo to “add” more people in the empty spaces

The govt photographer said they felt pressure to doctor the photo to make it appear Trump’s inauguration speech had a full crowd instead of the anemic reality, which didn’t match Trumps claim of record crowds attending his inauguration.

Trump – Kim Summit Meeting

After threatening to drop nukes on North Korea, Trump thought it would be a good idea to give NK what that always wanted- legitimacy with meeting with the US president. Trump stated the plan was for NK to get rid of its nukes. So far NK got the better of the deal by getting exactly what they wanted and are showing no intention of ending its nuke program.

Trump attacks/criticizes European allies meeting for NATO Summit

Trump gives long time European allies the cold shoulder and open criticism and goes so far as to call the EU a foe of the US.

Trump lied about having no knowledge of payments Stormy Daniels

Trump claimed that his former attorney Michael Cohen arranged for payments to Stormy Daniels to keep her from reporting about the affair she had with Trump and that he had no knowledge of it. Trump  denied the affair happened. Michael Cohen plead guilty and revealed that Trump worked directly with Cohen in planning the payments, making Trump an unindicted co-conspirator.  Trying to change election outcomes using non reported money is against election laws.

Trump Issues Trade War that is hurting US farmers and industries.  

Issuing a tariff trade war will result in higher prices for US citizens, whose store products are mostly imported. Farmers are losing money due to retaliatory sanctions from other countries. Other countries may win former US business that we may never get back. This has resulted in Trump giving welfare aid to farmers.

Astonishing charges of corruption in a cabinet less than two years old.

Former EPA Chief Scott Pruitt was finally forced to resign after a string of unethical missteps like the following:

  1. Racking up high bills traveling 1st class at tax payer expense.
  2. Renting a room from a lobbyist in Washington DC at the unheard of rate of just $50/night (regular rates are in the $100’s)
  3. Spending $43K for a soundproof booth in his office when a general security area was already available.
  4. Keeping a secret calendar to hide meetings. Not very transparent for a public servant.

For a scandal run down on what the rest of the cabinet including Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross, Treasury Sec Steve Mnuchin, Interior Sec Ryan Zinke,  etc… have been doing that breaches ethics with abandon, check here. So much for the promise of “draining the swamp”.

Ongoing Mueller Investigation into Russian Collusion.

Of course there is also the ongoing Mueller investigation into potential illegal Russian collusion. Trump loves to call it an unsupported witch hunt. The facts say otherwise. So far the investigation has yielded a who’s who list of indictments.  Total count to date is 35, that includes former Trump hires:

  1. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – pleaded guilty to making false statements.
  2. Campaign foreign policy adviser – George Papadopoulous- arrested and plead guilty of making false statements.
  3. Campaign Chair Paul Manafort – Entered into a plea deal after being indicted on 25 counts and convicted on 8 counts of financial crimes (would have been much higher conviction count except for lone hold out juror).
  4. Campaign aide and Manafort’s business partner Rick Gates – Entered plea deal after being on similar charges to Manafort.

 

Remember folks- this presidency is LESS than two years old and this isn’t a complete list! Also, it only covers his second year, which still has three months to go!  To see what was going on at the one year mark, check here.

 

Did Republicans Win the Battle but Lose the War with Kavanaugh?

The Senate voted to confirm the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the Supreme Court, 50-48, much to the chagrin and disappointment to the Democrats, Progressives, and other detractors. Protests are still ongoing.

This is a clear victory for Trump and the GOP, who have now placed two highly conservative judges on SCOTUS in less than 2 years in office.

The problem is there is a large cloud of controversy with Kavanaugh, with the accusations of past sexual assault, accepting and passing on stolen secret documents, and the recent hyper partisan statement he made at his second hearing. He basically declared himself to be a victim, and now vengeful enemy to Democrats and the left. This was not an emotion induced outburst due to a momentary loss of control. These were written statements that he had plenty of time to consider and ponder on as he wrote them down in preparation :

“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record; revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque character assassination will dissuade confident and good people of all political persuasions from serving our country, and as we all know, in the political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around.”

What goes around, comes around? How can that not be interpreted as anything other than a threat of retaliation? How is that response anywhere close to displaying the characteristics of a non partisan judge?

Kavanaugh will be the most openly partisan SCOTUS appointment in modern history, which is sure to rile the Democrats, even without all the other baggage he brings with him.

But did it have to go this way? Trump has a long list of vetted conservative candidates that could have been appointed without nearly so much controversy. As an example, Neil Gorsuch’s appointment was a sleeper compared to this.

If Kavanaugh had lost the confirmation, the Republicans would have been angered and riled up for action, just in time for November elections. Trump would still be able to pick another candidate from his conservative list even if the Dems gained seats in the Senate. I don’t believe the Dems would have ramped up the partisanship by holding a court appointment open for two years, which would be double the time McConnell did to Obama with not allowing Merrick Garland to have a hearing.

Kavanaugh losing the nomination would have been a bigger boost to Republican turn out during a time when historically, Republicans lose seats.

But with Kavanaugh’s win, Dems and women who related to Ford are even more energized than they were before to make their opinions heard, especially under the atmosphere of such a widely broadcast battle along partisan/sexist lines.

This could very well result in a much bigger blue wave than what would have occurred with a Kanavaugh loss.

The Republicans are expecting the loss of the House to the Dems, but now the Senate may also be in play as well.

 

 

Fox News Facts Vs Fiction

A montage was done showing the reporting done by Fox News hosts Shep Smith and Sean Hannity. The information they provide looks like it came from two different planets, much less the same network.

The difference is Shep is reporting the actual FACTS while Sean pushes debunked conspiracies, lies, and hyperbole.

 

The fact that Fox allows such dishonest/biased hosts as Hannity under its network umbrella is a clear indication of how unbalanced Fox is towards responsible reporting.

 

Fox News Online Goes Full Fake News/State TV/GOP Cheerleader Mode: “Trump Sycophantic Syndrome”

Today is election day in several states – lots of news to discuss and lead with:

CNN:

NBC:

MSNBC:

USA Today:

 

Then we have Fox News, who choose to go with this for the bulk of the day:

 

Apparently according to Fox, there is some big news speculation explosion about Melania being hit by Trump that I have yet to see anything about other than on Fox itself.

It’s always been the case that Fox has been pro-GOP, but now it would appear that they have given up any pretense of trying to be “fair and balanced” and have jumped the shark into full-bore cheer leading for the GOP in general and Trump in particular. They rather focus on manufactured/made up demons and fears than deal with the current news if it bears a negative reflection on the Trump Administration.

Fox is claiming other news media is suffering from “Trump Derangement” – but the reality is if Fox is suffering from “Trump Sycophantic Syndrome” at hypocritical levels not witnessed by a nationwide popular multimedia source in modern history.  Try to imagine them making the same level of defense for Obama or another Democrat.

 

More details on this Fox Propaganda Phenomenon:

https://www.vox.com/2018/5/30/17380096/fox-news-alternate-reality-charts

From the article:

“Every night, Fox News paints a picture of reality that Americans outside the Fox News bubble would not recognize.

In Fox News world, the FBI is conducting a witch hunt against President Trump; the Stormy Daniels saga is part of a conspiracy to take down the president; Hillary Clinton’s corruption is still a major threat to American decency; and the mainstream media is ignoring Trump’s accomplishments, like securing the borders, lowering the unemployment rate, and withdrawing the US from bad international deals and treaties. These stories clash with the world that appears just a few channels away on mainstream media outlets like MSNBC and CNN.”

 

Analysis of President Trump’s First Year in Office

I wanted to write this at the end of January, but never could find the intersection of having both the time and motivation to do it.

This first year has been mostly a non stop ride of Trump not conforming to what would be expected of the model of President that has been in place for several generations.

Some of the notable differences:

1) He uses Twitter to share his opinions and policies on everything. This includes personal insults levied at anyone that catches his attention, whether they are regular folks, movie stars, business people, or other politicians, which includes those who work for him in his Admin like Jeff Sessions. These attacks are seen by many as “unpresidential” in particular, and immature in general.

2) He remains in “campaign mode” and never made the transition of moving towards the center. It’s standard for elected Presidents that they try to move towards a middle ground consensus area rather than remain entrenched in their highly partisan campaign rhetoric. After all, they are President of the whole country, not just those who voted for them. Trump established his 2020 re-election  campaign group earlier than any modern President and his public speeches are often indistinguishable from his election campaign speeches as they still include attacks on Hillary Clinton and the Dems and recalling his surprise election victory.

3) His choice of hires for his Admin have been very controversial – placing people to be in charge of departments that they have no experience in and/or expressed disdain for in past comments. Examples:

Secretary of Education: Betsy Davos – Has a history of being an advocate of charter schools over public schools with no prior public school government experience. Couldn’t get a majority vote in the Senate for confirmation, required tiebreaker vote by Vice President Mike Pence. Recently had a disastrous 60 minutes interview showing her to be ill-prepared  in solving public school problems.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson – A  neurosurgeon with no background government experience in this area. His time in office has been controversial with scaling back Housing Enforcement  and recently involved in a controversy of spending $31,000 for an office dining set.

Secretary of Energy: Rick Perry – Former Governor of Texas – In the past has stated that if he were elected President, he would abolish the Department of Energy.

Secretary of the Interior: Ryan Zinke – Advocating shrinking the size of National Parks and Monument areas, opening them up to mining and oil exploration. Actions to date have elicited angry responses from many.

Acting Director for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Mick Mulvaney – The CPFB was created to protect the consumer in response to the financial crisis of 2008/2009  which led to the Great Recession.  The CPFB’s purpose is to protect the consumer from predatory financial practices. Mulvaney  has stated in the past he wanted to eliminate/do away with it.

Head of the Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt – Avid  climate change denier.

 

Campaign Promise Fulfillment Status

Trump’s major tenets he said he would fulfill if elected:

1) Increased restrictions on immigration and travel ban on several countries that coincidentally have a higher percentage of Muslim citizens.

Released an immediate controversial travel ban that caused chaos as some people who were in the middle of traveling  to the US were blocked from entering the country. The ban was declared unconstitutional by the US appeals court. He ended protections for undocumented children who were brought here by their parents (DACA) and have lived here most of their lives.

2) Health Plan that was superior to the ACA (Obamacare).

Revealed he had no plan, but left if up to the GOP House and Senate to make changes. This resulted in bills from the House and Senate that had a main purpose of defunding/gutting the ACA, making things worse, as opposed to improving America’s healthcare. The Bill failed in the Senate.

3) Building a southern border wall that Mexico would pay for, costing the USA nothing.

To date there is no concrete plan for Mexico to pay for the wall. Instead, Trump is demanding the US pay for it now, using DACA as a bargaining chip.

4) Tax relief for the middle class, lower corporate tax rates with more scrutiny to close Wall Street/corporate/ultra wealthy tax loop holes.

Trump touted his tax plans as having big breaks for the middle class, and said rich people like him were not going to like it at all. The actual results were quite different, with the middle class losing their permanent deductions/personal exemptions for themselves and their dependents as well as most of their State and local tax deductions. In return, they got a doubling of the standard deduction that will expire in 8 – 10 years. In reality the middle class received a delayed tax increase. Corporations and the wealthy, on the other hand, received a permanent tax reduction and the elimination of the estate tax, which only affected single individuals with inherited homes worth over 5 million or over $10 million for couples. There was also no closing of any corporate or Wall Street tax loop holes.

The tax bill is estimated to cost an additional $1.5 Trillion in national debt, which looks very bad for Republicans who had been campaigning on fiscal responsibility  during Obama’s time in office. The general public was not happy with this tax bill as polling showed the majority dissatisfied. Most believe they will not see much of the benefits and it’s a give away to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

5) No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid

Contrary to his promise of no cuts, Trump’s budget plan for 2018 is making cuts to all three: Medicaid being cut by $1.1 trillion, Social Security being cut by $72 billion, and Medicare being cut by $266 billion.

6) Renegotiate global country trade policies.

Trump stopped movement on the US joining the TPP as promised. In recent weeks Trump has started making unilateral decisions about charging tariffs on our global trading partners like China and Canada that threaten to trigger an all out trade war. As the US now imports most of it’s goods and services, a full scale trade war would have negative consequences for the economy.

7) Reveal Tax Returns after Audit

Trump promised to reveal his tax forms after his audit. An audit has never stopped anyone from showing their taxes before. He was the only president in modern history to not reveal at least his prior two years of tax return forms. After the election, he has decided not to reveal them ever.

8) Better Economy – Stopping Corporate Layoffs from Outsourcing

Trump campaigned on going after corporations that were outsourcing their labor and closing down plants in the US. After the tax bill passed, companies like Carrier and Amazon announced no layoffs and/or bonuses would be paid as a result of the lower tax rates. However, Carrier and Amazon announced new rounds of layoffs afterwards.

The stock market raced to all new highs for the year, which Trump proudly took credit for with multiple tweets with every new high made. Prior presidents did not go all in of market gains made, since that would mean they would also have to own it if the market started going down. Trumps talk of imposing tariffs have sparked trade war fears which has increased market volatility and declines.

 

Not Normal is the New Normal

From the start of the immediate execution of the travel ban the Trump Admin has been embroiled in what are literally one major controversial move or incident after the next. Some of the biggest examples:

1) Trumps adamant resistance to attack or stand up to the accusations of Russian election meddling or Russian overseas aggression.

Despite the US top intelligence agencies (CIA,FBI, NSA) reporting on their certainty of Russian election meddling, it took months before Trump stopped saying Russian interference was just a possibility rather than a certainty. He has still not directed our security agencies to ramp up their defenses against future Russian attempts to interfere with our elections. No matter how aggressive or belligerent Russia acts, he is loathe to publicly condemn or even complain about it.

2) Firing of FBI Director James Comey that was investigating possible Russian collusion with US citizens to affect election results.

In a very unexpected move, Trump fired the FBI director while the director was conducting an investigation into potential collusion between the Russians and Trump election campaign members. It’s never a good idea to attempt to try and fire the person who could be investigating them, as it looks like at attempt to be above the law and the issue with Nixon and Watergate come to mind. This resulted in a Special Counsel being created to investigate potential collusion and a spotlight many times brighter than when Comey was on the job.

3) Attack on US institutions and News Media

It’s been almost surreal the way Trump and several GOP politicians have begun attacking the FBI and DOJ since it was revealed Trump and his Admin are under investigation. He has expressed great disdain towards his appointed AG Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation, via a steady stream of insulting and belittling tweets. Jeff Sessions was the 1st GOP Senator to support Trumps election plans. Fox News pundits have assisted by talking about a “deep state” of law enforcement officials having sinister intent.

Trump has also directly attacked news outlets for generating “fake news”, which doesn’t turn out to actually be fake, just real news that is unfavorable towards Trump. No prior president has placed such an emphasis on attacking the media. Trump often says inaccurate things which prompts media correction.

These attacks serve to weaken both confidence in the government and the free press, not good for a democracy.

4) Potential Emolument Scandals

Trump and his family including son in law Jared Kushner never fully divested from their business interests upon taking up office positions, and now they are under a cloud of potential emolument violations of using their government positions to enrich their private business.

6)  Revolving door Administration with record number of departures for a president at the 1 year mark

The list of Trump Administration departures due to scandals, potential scandals, falling out of favor with Trump, ethics violations, potential criminal acts, have exceeded past records and shows no sign of abating.

List of departures to date- changing weekly, if not daily:

7) Misc Scandals/Controversies Du Jour

While campaigning in 2016, Trump often joked that a Clinton victory would result in her Administration getting bogged down in constant scandals. How ironic that joke turned out to be seeing how his Admin is faring with non stop controversies/scandals. Some examples:

1) Trump saying that there were “good people on both sides” at a Neo Nazi White Nationalist protest where fights broke out and a counter protestor died. Many questioned how there can be “good people” on the side of the White Nationalist group shouting anti semitic, Nazi, and anti non-white slogans.

2) Trump’s disdain and NSFW comments about immigrants from non European, non white countries.

3) Trump’s multiple sex scandals are currently front and center in the news.

 

Popularity Rating

Trumps approval rating ranges from the mid 30’s to the low 40’s, the lowest of any president at this point in their term.

He has about 30% – 32% of devoted fans, with ~12% that vary in approval over time. His disapproval has ranged the mid 40’s to high 50’s. His first year has been one of the most polarizing in history.

 

 

Absolute Proof that Fox News is Just a Partisan Hack Propaganda Wing of the GOP

Today’s big bombshell news was that report from the Washington Post that Trump shared classified intel with the Russians.

All the online main news agencies are leading with this….

That is…all except for FoxNews.

Let’s take a look:

Here’s ABC News:

 

CBS News:

 

NBC News:

CNN:

Bloomberg News:

 

MSNBC News:

 

BBC News:

ALJazeeraNews:

 

Everyone has their focus and lead on the main news of the day….

Then we get to FOX NEWS:

 

Hey, good to know that Fox has its priorities right in highlighting their version of  MAIN NEWS LEAD OF THE DAY….at least in their opinion. =)

Fair and Balanced—what nonsense!

Can you imagine how big their focus would be if this was done by a Dem Pres? They may as well be called American Pravda.

Fox News = Fake News

 

Trump and Ryan Get Served Humble Pie as Obamacare Repeal/Replace Juggernaut Crashes into Tea Party Ice Berg in Shocking Defeat

The Trump Administration has been on a legislative rampage since inauguration with numerous controversial executive orders and the first big planned legislative event was the repeal and replacement of the ACA otherwise known as Obamacare. They seemed intent on maintaining a high level of momentum and speed in executing their agenda.

All this came to a screeching halt on Friday as the much hyped Trumpcare/Ryancare Bill meant to replace Obamacare was pulled from the planned vote in an embarrassing defeat as there were not enough votes for the Bill to pass.

 

The implications and level of this failure are quite astounding. The GOP has voted to repeal or amend Obamacare 54 times while Obama was in office. There was never a problem getting those bills passed in the GOP controlled House during Obama’s term.

Now that the Republicans control the Presidency, House, and Senate, the failure of the House to pass a bill puts the GOP is a bright “Emperor has no clothes!” spotlight. The obvious conclusions are:

  1. The Republicans NEVER had a true working plan to amend/repeal Obamacare. All those consensus votes in the past were a FRAUD knowing the bill would fail in the Senate or be vetoed by Obama. Now that they know their Bills will really go into effect, everyone is no longer on the same page.
  2. The Republicans had seven years to develop a working replacement plan but have NOTHING to show for it. Think of all the taxpayer time and money wasted in their fake “repeal” bills put on just for show.
  3. The GOP is very good at opposing the Democrats, but come up short at the task of governing and building consensus. It’s far easier to be disruptive than creative.

The inside story is that White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon thought he had power he didn’t have when he tried to force rebelling Republicans to get in line and vote “yes”, and their reply was basically:

 

 

As for Trump, his aura of invincibility along with his winning streak for successfully bucking the system has come to an end. All the “Business mastery” bravado and supposed “Art of the Deal” expertise have met their match at the hands of rebelling fellow Republicans.

It became all too clear that electing a person with no prior political experience or expertise to the highest office in the land comes at a cost.

 

 

Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated?? Actually, anyone with any experience or who paid ANY attention at all to the healthcare problems over the past few decades knew it was a complicated issue. You would have to be supremely arrogant or naive to think you could just walk into a problem you didn’t research or have any background knowledge in and think you would come up with an “easy” solution.

 

When met with this failure, does Trump own up to it and accept the loss like Paul Ryan did? Nope, he pointed the blame away from himself:

 

It’s beyond absurd to blame the Democrats when The Presidency, House, and Senate are controlled by Republicans and they are trying to pass a law that goes against the healthcare package the Dems created. Why would the Dems support a bill that replaces their own law with a much WORSE substitute? That’s like your boss asking you to vote to cut your pay in half, and then complaining that nobody agreed to it.

He’s also now saying he never said this bill was a top issue and that he never said he’d do it quickly- another LIE:

Does Trump have amnesia that EVERYTHING he says to the public is recorded?

Some folks will blame The Freedom Caucus – the group of Republicans that voted against the bill, but in truth, they were just keeping the GOP to their word of repealing Obamacare rather than amending it. They wanted it eliminated entirely as the GOP said they would do time and time again. The GOP was once again burned for making promises they knew they couldn’t keep.

There’s a clear obvious reason the GOP backed off fully repealing Obamacare – many of their constituents would be be impacted and lose their health insurance. That would have bad consequences for them come election time.

The GOP healthcare bill was built on arrogance and the desire to cut taxes for the wealthy rather than try to obtain low cost effective healthcare for all. They didn’t try to work with the Dems for their input or seek advice from the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, AARP, and a host of others who are opposing this fault ridden bill.

Some of the biggest problems of the bill:

  1. Does NOTHING to address rising costs of health care services
  2. Reduces subsidies for most and especially the elderly – the folks who will most likely need medical attention
  3. Allows insurers to hike up costs for those over 50 up to 500% of what is being charged to younger people. Obamacare capped top rate to 300%
  4. Eliminates all essential benefits like preventative care, prescription drugs, maternity care, addiction help, etc.. This basically allows insurers to sell you pieces of paper that say “insurance”, but cover very little so you come up snake eyes if you ever need to use it.
  5. Eliminates Federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Even though no federal funds are used by PP for abortions by law, the ACHA tries to mandate moral agenda by forbidding PP to conduct any services regarding abortions if they wish to continue to receive funding- funding that now goes to women’s health care like mammogram screenings.
  6. Removes “mandate” to buy insurance while keeping the rule that no preexisting conditions can be excluded. This is a recipe for disaster as people will only now sign up if they get sick, and insurers stand to lose billions. This alone GUARANTEES skyrocketing insurance rates to cover for these losses.
  7. Gives the wealthiest groups millions of dollars in tax cuts at the expense of everyone else in higher rates/less coverage
  8. CBO estimates 24 million folks will lose their insurance.

As bad as this bill was, the GOP Freedom Caucus still felt this package was “too generous” and wanted even more cuts- to the point where moderate Republicans were now refusing to vote for this.

Trump promised he would fix the health care problems, but this bill makes things far worse. Makes you wonder if he even took the time to read it.

Now he says he will just let Obamacare implode on it’s own- walking away from the problem like a quitter instead of a dedicated elected official trying to help those who elected him into office.

Why not work to repair Obamacare to solve the problems instead of trying to just slap together a toxic inferior replacement? The answer is they want tax cuts more than they want to create a true working and acceptable healthcare plan. Thanks to the numerous angry town halls of their own constituents yelling at them to come up with a REAL solution or leave Obamacare alone, they knew they’d be in big trouble if they went ahead with this “repeal/replace” charade.

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s speech on Obamacare now fits the Republican American Health Care Act (AHCA) like a glove:

 

 

Republicans now OWN the healthcare issue and pressure needs to be kept on them to provide a solution that works for the majority, not just their wealthy elite donors.