Cutting Taxes

Thursday, August 31, 2017Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 8.35.56 AM

Good Thursday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump laid out the case for cutting taxes for businesses and individuals and for simplifying the tax code in a speech in Springfield, Mo.
  •  A Trump administration official said that the administration wanted to stabilize health insurance markets, but refused to say whether the government would promote enrollment this fall under the Affordable Care Act or pay for the activities of counselors who help people sign up for coverage.
  • The New America Foundation, a think tank backed by Googlefired a scholar after he praised the European Union’s record $2.7 billion fine against the tech giant.

  • While Mr. Trump’s threats against North Korea have been unnerving, it is the prospect of a risky dialogue that most unsettles former officials.
  • In a letter to Congress, Michael Cohen, a lawyer for Mr. Trumpdisputed allegations that Mr. Cohen has deep ties to Russian officials.

— The First Draft Team
Fact Check

Was 2013 Hurricane Sandy Relief Package ‘Full of Pork’?

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, spoke with the news media at a shelter in Houston.

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, spoke with the news media at a shelter in Houston. Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

As Tropical Storm Harvey barrels down the Gulf Coast and talk of a disaster-relief bill begins, Republican lawmakers from Texas are rushing to defend their 2013 votes against spending $50.5 billion on Hurricane Sandy relief.

Senator John Cornyn’s spokesman, Drew Brandewie, posted on Twitter on Friday that the senator voted for Sandy relief, just not the package that became law. He said the final bill included extraneous money for items unrelated to disaster relief. (Mr. Cornyn voted for an amendment that would have provided about $24 billion in funding.)

On Tuesday, in an interview with NBC’s Katy Tur, Senator Ted Cruz put a specific number on unrelated spending in the 2013 legislation: Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.

And on Wednesday morning, Representative Bill Flores echoed criticism of the Sandy relief bill during a local radio interview. Congress went crazy with it, packing it full of pork, he said. Most people don’t realize that the $51 billion bill included spending for almost all 50 states as well as Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

But these claims are hyperbolic and misleading.

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A military parade marking Pakistan’s Republic Day was held in Islamabad in March.

U.S. Gives Military Assistance to Pakistan, With Strings Attached


The $255 million in military aid will be put into escrow. Unlocking the funds will require Islamabad to stop supporting the Taliban.

United States Army soldiers overseeing training of the Afghan National Army at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province last year.

U.S. Says It Has 11,000 Troops in Afghanistan, More Than Formerly Disclosed


The Defense Department had for years publicly disclosed only the number of troops taking part in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, not counterterrorism forces there.

Eric Hauser, the author of “The Adventures of Pepe and Pede.” A legal settlement has been reached with Matt Furie, the creator of Pepe, who had challenged the use of his character.

Pepe the Frog Cartoonist Stops Distribution of Children’s Book


Matt Furie, the cartoonist behind a frog now synonymous with the so-called alt-right, has forced the removal of a book with Pepe from distribution.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights chief, said the president risked inciting violence.

U.N. Human Rights Chief Condemns Trump’s Attacks on Media


The rebuke by Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the president’s words could incite violence and had potentially dangerous consequences outside the United States.

U.S. Economy Grew 3% in 2nd Quarter, Fastest Pace in 2 Years


The Commerce Department’s revised estimate of the annual growth rate is below President Trump’s 4 percent target, but better than the first-quarter pace.

A medium-range ballistic missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, on Wednesday. Missiles fired from the destroyer John Paul Jones intercepted it.

U.S. Test Successfully Intercepts Ballistic Missile


Days after another missile launch from North Korea, the United States tested its intercepting capabilities off the coast of Hawaii.

Capt. Jennifer Peace, a transgender service member.

Mattis Says Panel Will Study Trump’s Transgender Military Ban


On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that he was establishing a panel of experts to “provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president’s direction.”

A monument behind the Georgetown Historical Society in Delaware was erected in 2007 to honor Delawareans who had helped the Confederacy.

A Boom in Confederate Monuments, on Private Land


Unlike the Confederate memorials of yesteryear, erected in busy public squares, today’s are mostly appearing far from the bustle of daily life.

From the Magazine

How to Get Rich in Trump’s Washington


Photo illustration by Sam Kaplan for The New York Times. Prop stylist: Gozde Eker.

As for so many other people, election night did not pan out quite the way Robert Stryk expected. Stryk began the night slumped in a Morton’s steakhouse in downtown Washington, tuning out the guests at his watch party to type out the campaign announcement of a buddy who — in the wake of Donald J. Trump’s all-but-certain defeat and the Republican Party implosion that was sure to follow — planned to make a long-shot bid for chairman of the Republican National Committee. He ended it by closing down the bar at the Mayflower Hotel, and after the race was called, giddily marching down Connecticut Avenue with his friends as they chanted, ‘‘Make America Great Again!’’
Stryk, who owned a lobbying firm so small it didn’t actually have an office, spent most of his time in California and owned a small vineyard in Oregon, and he had helped out the Trump campaign as a sort of informal West Coast hand. He was still reveling in Trump’s upset win two nights later, over a bottle of wine on the patio of the Four Seasons in Georgetown, when a chocolate Lab padded over to his table to sniff his crotch. Stryk and the dog’s owner got to talking about wine and cigars and finally, like most of the country, about Trump. It turned out that she worked for New Zealand’s Embassy in Washington. New Zealand’s prime minister still hadn’t connected with the new president-elect, she told Stryk — a diplomatic and political embarrassment. Stryk cocked an eye across the table. ‘‘What if I said I could get you the number of someone to call the president?’’ he asked her.
The next afternoon, Stryk found himself in a cab, headed for a meeting with New Zealand’s ambassador to the United States, Tim Groser. Stryk was more than a little nervous. On the way over, he called a friend named Stuart Jolly, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who ran Trump’s field operation during the Republican primary and spent election night with Stryk at Morton’s. Jolly reached out to someone he knew in the Trump high command and delivered a cell number, but Stryk didn’t know if it would actually work. At the embassy, Groser invited him in, uncorked a bottle of pinot noir and called the prime minister to pass along the number. A week later, President-elect Trump was finally able to accept a congratulatory phone call. But even before the call went through, plans and possibilities were blooming in Stryk’s mind. I said to myself: This could be very, very interesting, he told me when I first met him this spring. The world’s going to change.
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