US tax package

President Trump is claiming a major victory after the Republican tax package he championed pass through all it’s stages of US government. It is a major victory for him and for the GOP, for now at least. Time will tell whether all of the US benefits, or if it is too slanted to the big corporations and to rich Americans or not.

New York Post: Trump celebrates passing of GOP tax bill at White House

President Trump took a victory lap on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, hailing passage of the first comprehensive overhaul of the US tax system in three decades.

Trump lauded GOP lawmakers for delivering on the promise he made to voters to slash taxes — and said the cuts would kickstart the economy.

“Many companies have come forward saying they are so happy. We are seeing something very special, bringing the entrepreneur back into this country and you’ll see what happens,” the president said, appearing with dozens of House and Senate Republicans at the South Lawn of the White House.

“And ultimately what does it mean? It means jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs . . . We are in a special period of time. And it’s going to be even more so,” he added.

Eleven months into the Republican president’s first year in office, the GOP-controlled Congress finally gave him his first major legislative victory — and Trump clearly savored the moment.

“This will indeed be a very big day when people look back at our country. It’s a whole different attitude, a whole different way. We are making America great again,” he said.

Perhaps this will make America (or at least the US part of America) greater, but it could also dig a financial hole.

Analysts say the bill will add $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion to America’s already deep deficit.

Democrats blasted the bill as a boon only to the rich — and to businesses like Trump’s.

“There are only two places where America is popping Champagne: the White House and the corporate boardrooms, including Trump Tower. Otherwise, Americans have a lot to regret,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

But Republicans are savouring a major victory under Trump’s presidency:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the bill’s passage capped a year of “extraordinary accomplishment” for Trump.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) praised Trump’s “exquisite presidential leadership.”

The leaders of the key tax committees also had high praise. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called Trump “one heck of a leader.”

Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said the “historic day” could not have been achieved without Trump’s leadership.

RCP links:

 

Trump praises himself, attacks media and Court

President Donald Trump continues to attack the media and US courts via Twitter, and conducts a session of praise of himself with hos Cabinet.

Washington Times:  Trump’s tweets slam the media, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

“The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!”

Sad for the President to resort to this type of attack on the media. As flawed as they are the media still has a duty to hold the President and his administration to account.

“Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again – Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country. S.C.”

And it’s dangerous for a President to become publicly involved in matters before the courts.

But Trump managed to get some praise published in media – praise from himself and his Cabinet.

NBC News:  At First Full Meeting, Trump Claims Historic Success — and Cabinet Rushes to Pay Him Tribute

President Donald Trump blamed “obstructionist” Democrats for slowing his agenda Monday, even as he lauded his success as historic — an assessment many of his Cabinet members lined up, one by one, to endorse.

Meeting at the White House with his entire Cabinet for the first time, Trump used his opening remarks to blame Democrats for delaying the meeting, saying they’d held up key appointments in the Senate to score political points.

(Senate rules require only 51 votes to confirm presidential appointees, so the Republican majority has enough votes to approve Trump’s picks on its own. Democrats can do little more than delay the process.)

Trump went on to boast that he had already accomplished more than most other presidents in U.S. history.

“Never has there been a president — with few exceptions, in the case of FDR, he had a major Depression to handle — who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than what we’ve done,” Trump said. “I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be at a just about record-setting pace.”

Trump added that he was following through on his campaign promises “at a much faster pace than anyone thought,” citing executive orders, the rollback of government regulations and 34 bills passed by Congress.

So Trump is claiming unprecedented success, but also a lack of success due to obstruction.

Meanwhile, almost all of the legislation signed by Trump has been relatively small-bore; many of those measures include naming people to positions and designating buildings.

Congressional Republicans have increasingly voiced concern about the slow pace of legislative accomplishments on health care, tax reform and other issues.

As for nominations, the real bottleneck in the process, Democrats and others say, is at the White House, which has yet to appointment nominees to fill many vacant positions in the government.

Regardless of reality, Trump was joined by his Cabinet in a praisefest.

As Trump went around the large table, one by one, most praised the president, while others gave brief updates on their departments’ work.

It was all too much for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who tweeted a “staff meeting” parodying the White House flattery festival.

I’m not sure that parody is necessary, Trump is an ongoing self parody.

US government “under assault and eroding”

James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, says that America’s founding fathers created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “under assault and is eroding.”

Fox News: Clapper: US govt ‘under assault’ by Trump after Comey firing

…Clapper on Sunday described a U.S. government “under assault” after President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to fire FBI director James Comey, as lawmakers urged the president to select a new FBI director free of any political stigma.

“I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally — and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system,” Clapper said. “I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”

Clapper spoke following Trump’s sudden firing of Comey last week, which drew sharp criticism because it came amid the FBI’s probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

Clapper said America’s founding fathers had created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “under assault and is eroding.”

Politicians from both sides also have concerns.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the new FBI director should certainly be someone “not of partisan background” with “great experience” and “courage.” He left open the possibility that Democrats might try and withdraw support for a new FBI director unless the Justice Department names a special prosecutor.

Under rules of the Senate, Republicans could still confirm an FBI director with 51 votes. Republicans hold 52 seats in the chamber to Democrats’ 48.

A new FBI director without wide support from both parties would add to the current problems and concerns.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said promoting an FBI agent to lead the agency would allow the nation to “reset.”

“It’s now time to pick somebody who comes from within the ranks, or is of such a reputation who has no political background at all who can go into the job from Day 1,” the South Carolina Republican said.

“The president has a chance to clean up the mess he mostly created,” Graham said, adding, “I have no evidence the president colluded with the Russians at all, but we don’t know all the evidence yet.”

Only the FBI know all the evidence they have at this stage.

It is certainly very messy, but what are the chances that Trump will tidy up the mess rather than make it worse?

Trump is even blaming his own press team now.

Wall Street Journal: Trump Weighs Shake-Up of Press Team

President blames team for failing to contain Comey controversy and hasn’t ruled out replacing Spicer

President Donald Trump is considering broad changes to his communications team and strategy, which he blames for failing to contain the controversy surrounding his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, according to multiple administration officials.

Among other moves, Mr Trump is again weighing replacing Press Secretary Shaun Spicer.

I’m not sure there will be many people willing to volunteer to take over from Spicer.

Trump has also suggested he may scrap the daily press briefings and hand out a two weekly printed statement instead. The press briefings have been done for about a century and it will raise eyebrows if they are scrapped, but currently they are of little use given how uninformed Spicer and his deputy have been, and/or how quickly the White House story keeps changing.