A Never-Ending Reality Show

Wednesday, October 11, 2017Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 1.26.53 PM

Good Wednesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • Mocking a Republican senator’s height and challenging his secretary of state to an I.Q. contest, President Trump is starring in a reality show that never seems to end and keeps the audience on the edge of its seats.

  • The president called for ending a law allowing the N.F.L.’s central office to avoid paying taxes, though the White House later backed off. He also said ESPN ratings had “tanked.”
  • Two weeks after the N.F.L. stared down Mr. Trump, the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, sent a letter to owners saying, “We believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem.”
  • As Puerto Rico struggles to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, sick people remain in mortal peril. Hospitals are short of medicines, power supplies and staff.

  • Exploiting the popular Kaspersky antivirus softwareRussian hackers searched millions of computers for American intelligence keywords. Israeli officers tipped off the United States.
— The First Draft Team

Kansas Tried a Tax Plan Similar to Trump’s. It Failed.

Gov. Sam Brownback, center, signed the tax bill into law in May 2012. The law cut individual income taxes and eliminated state income taxes entirely for pass-through entities in an attempt to attract investment and create jobs.

Gov. Sam Brownback, center, signed the tax bill into law in May 2012. The law cut individual income taxes and eliminated state income taxes entirely for pass-through entities in an attempt to attract investment and create jobs. Thad Allton/Topeka Capital-Journal, via Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. — In December 2014, the University of Kansas agreed to pay David Beaty $800,000 a year, plus incentives, to be the football program’s head coach, but with an interesting structure: More than two-thirds of that pay would be channeled to an organization called DB Sports L.L.C.
DB Sports is what accountants call a pass-through entity, and it pays all of its profits directly to Mr. Beaty. As a result of a tax law that Kansas lawmakers passed in 2012, ostensibly to benefit beleaguered small businesses in the state, that contract structure allowed Mr. Beaty to avoid paying about $37,000 a year in state income taxes, nearly enough to fund a first-year teacher’s salary in the Wichita school district.
With the state hemorrhaging government revenue, Kansas lawmakers rolled back the tax law this year, but congressional Republicans and President Trump are trying to take the experiment with pass-through preferences national, beyond Wichita and Topeka to cities with residents who measure incomes in seven, eight or nine figures.
The Republican tax rewrite unveiled this month aims to jump-start economic growth in part by establishing a 25 percent tax rate on small businesses and other firms that operate as pass-through entities, a cut from the top rate of 39.6 percent that such business owners pay now.
But the abandoned experiment in Kansas points to how a carve-out intended to help raise growth and create jobs instead created an incentive for residents, particularly high earners, to avoid paying state income taxes by changing how they got paid.
Read more »
A coal-fired power station in Newburg, Md., on Tuesday. The process of unraveling the Clean Power Plan could take months, and that is before any court challenges.

E.P.A. Says It Will Write a New Carbon Rule, but No One Can Say When


Industry leaders and environmentalists both doubt the agency will move quickly to replace former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan with something new.

Melania Trump and Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday at Lily’s Place, a clinic in Huntington, W.Va., that treats infants born with addiction.

Melania Trump Says She Aims to ‘Give a Voice’ to the Victims of Opioids


The first lady’s visit to a clinic in West Virginia is a signal that her interests — so far stated broadly as helping children and combating cyberbullying — have narrowed.

Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee on Capitol Hill this year.

Trump Misleadingly Blames Bob Corker for Iran Deal


President Trump said Senator Bob Corker “gave us” the Iran nuclear deal. Actually, Mr. Corker opposed it — and has the votes to prove it.

Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright was one of the American soldiers killed last week in an ambush in Niger. The military released this photo of his body being brought back to Dover, Del., last week.

Niger Attack Lays Bare U.S. Troops’ Long Wait for Medical Help in Africa


The time frame for moving injured troops is much longer in Africa, where four were killed in an ambush last week, than in Iraq or Afghanistan, military officials said.

The American Consulate in Benghazi was attacked in September of 2012.

At Benghazi Trial, C.I.A. Officers in Wigs and Mustaches Recount Bloody Attack


Wearing disguises in the courtroom, the C.I.A. officers described how their rescue team tried desperately to find the American ambassador and later came under mortar attack.

Landi Livingston, whose family raises beef cattle in Ellston, Iowa, says her insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act is too expensive. Iowa is seeking approval from the Trump administration to opt out of some of the law’s main features.

In New Test for Obamacare, Iowa Seeks to Abandon Marketplace


Its plan would give premium subsidies to well-off people but increase out-of-pocket costs for many with modest incomes. Other states could potentially follow.

Tom Price resigned as secretary of Health and Human Services this month after being criticized for his use of private and government planes.

Ethics Chief ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Actions by Top Federal Officials


The acting head of the Office of Government Ethics sent an unusual memo urging federal workers to remember to act honorably.

How Will Repeal of Clean Power Plan Change Emissions for Your State?


It all depends on where you live.

What Is the Clean Power Plan, and How Can Trump Repeal It?


President Trump wants to scrap the Obama-era initiative. What will happen next, and how does this relate to the Paris climate agreement?

Outside the Sanger Clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in 1916. Planned Parenthood traces its origins to this clinic started by Margaret Sanger and others to offer birth control advice to low-income immigrants.

Doubtful Science Behind Arguments to Restrict Birth Control Access


A Trump administration effort to weaken rules on health care coverage of contraception has raised legal questions. It should also raise medical ones.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post:
“If only a tiny bit of Corker’s independence and candor could be transferred to his party, we firmly believe the G.O.P., the Senate and the country would be infinitely better off. Other Republicans should take notice.”
Ms. Rubin, a frequent critic of the president from the right, argues that there is much that other Republicans can learn from Mr. Corker. She writes that Republicans must honestly face the president’s mental health, admit that the president often tells falsehoods and recognize that the real power lies in the Senate — not with the executive branch. Finally, she hopes that more Republican leaders will act without fear of an impending election. “Treating the Senate like their permanent and only available livelihood makes them weak, compliant and intellectually corrupt,” she explains. Read more »
From the Left
Yochi Dreazen in Vox:
“Corker is saying out loud what I hear privately from sources throughout the military and the U.S. government, and from both foreign ambassadors and visiting foreign diplomats.”
Mr. Dreazen, the managing editor for Vox’s foreign news section, asks his readers to look beyond the personal barbs exchanged between the president and Mr. Corker, and instead look at the substance of Mr. Corker’s critique. Mr. Trump’s escalation of tensions with North Korea has “been so ham-fisted and bellicose that it could trigger a catastrophic war that kills hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, including tens of thousands of Americans.” Read more »
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