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Will Trump be impeached or is it just a liberal fantasy?

Only two presidents in history have been impeached, but murmurs continue to surround Trump. Heres how the process would work if it would at all

On 21 July 2007, George W Bush underwent surgery to have five polyps removed after what was described as a routine colonoscopy. The date may have been lost to history, but for the rare invocation at the time of a constitutional amendment laying out how the transfer of power to the vice-president works in cases of presidential disability.

For 125 minutes as long as it took for Bush to enter and emerge from partial anesthesia, eat breakfast and display possession of his native wit Dick Cheney held all the powers attached to the office of the presidency. (Some wags have suggested that Cheney wielded that authority, unofficially, over a much longer time span.)

Even before the FBI director announced on Monday that the bureau is investigating possible collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Moscow during the 2016 presidential election, the precise rules for how the powers of the presidency might be transferred or simply rescinded in case of criminality or emergency had become the subject of newfound and intense focus in the United States.

Whispers about impeachment, the most familiar constitutional procedure for removing a president, began to circulate even before Trump had taken the oath of office. But two months into Trumps presidency, those whispers and the search for any other possible emergency exit have grown into an open conversation that has moved well beyond the realm of a Democratic party daydream. Get ready for impeachment, an influential, 13-term Democratic congresswoman tweeted after the bombshell FBI announcement.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/22/donald-trump-president-impeached-liberals-history-process


Trump’s treasury secretary pick failed to disclose nearly $100m in assets

Steven Mnuchin didnt tell the Senate finance committee that he was a director of an investment fund incorporated in a tax haven and omitted other assets

Steven Mnuchin, the hedge fund millionaire Donald Trump has picked to run the US treasury, failed to disclose nearly $100m in assets to Congress, including his role as a director of offshore funds and close to $1m in art owned by his children.

The error was disclosed hours before Mnuchin was grilled by the Senate finance committee on Thursday over his role at a California bank that foreclosed on thousands of vulnerable borrowers, his attitude to tax havens and the future regulation of the US financial system.

On Wednesday night the committee learned Mnuchin had initially failed to disclose he was a director of Dune Capital International, an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. He also omitted other assets, including $95m in real estate and $906,556 worth of artwork held by his children.

Mr. Mnuchin has claimed these omissions were due to a misunderstanding of the questionnaire he does not consider these assets to be investment assets and thus did not disclose them, even though the committee directs the nominee to list all real estate assets, according to documents filed with the committee.

Mnuchin was questioned by the Democratic senator Bob Menendez who asked how he had failed to disclose the assets when he signed a statement listing his holdings on 19 December.

I have a ton of other questions on policy but first and foremost is truth and veracity, what Americans need in their treasury secretary said Menedez. In essence isnt it true that what you did here is take these companies, put them offshore so you could help your clients, who you were making money from, to avoid US taxation.

Mnuchin said that was not true at all.

I assure you that these forms were very complicated, he said. When I certified those forms I thought it was correct. Mnuchin said he may have erred in giving the forms in early and should have waited and that his lawyer had assured him he had filled the forms in correctly.

It doesnt take a rocket scientist to understand list all entities, said Menendez.

Mnuchin said his decision to move his investment vehicles offshore was not always about taxes but about making investments eligible for pensions and other non-profits. These are very complicated issues. We need tax code simplification, he said. Mnuchin said he was in favor of changing the tax code and to make sure we dont let anybody avoid taxes.

Over five hours the treasury secretary nominee remained composed as he faced tough questions over his management of OneWest, a California bank created after he took over IndyMac in 2009 after it collapsed during the financial crisis, dragged down by a portfolio of bad loans.

OneWest foreclosed on more than 36,000 homeowners under Mnuchin. including one 90-year-old woman over a 27-cent payment error. Under Mnuchin, OneWest churned out foreclosures like Chinese factories churned out Trump suits and ties, Senator Ron Wyden told the hearing.

On Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren accused Mnuchin of making millions at OneWest by grinding families into the dirt. Warren held a press conferences with four women who had loans with Mnuchins former firm and who had either lost their home or were in danger of being evicted.

In his prepared testimony for his confirmation Mnuchin denied accusations that OneWest Bank was a foreclosure machine designed to profit from the bursting of the housing bubble.

Since I was first nominated to serve as treasury secretary, I have been maligned as taking advantage of others hardships in order to earn a buck. Nothing could be further from the truth, Mnuchin wrote in his opening statement.

Mnuchin said he could not talk about specific loans because of privacy but that some had been in the public eye. The most troubling was to the octomum [Natalie Suleman, who became a media celebrity after she gave birth to octuplets in January 2009]. We worked very, very hard, that was a terrible situation, to move her to another home that they could afford, he said.

There were mistakes, we regret those, said Mnuchin. He said banks would prefer to make a loan modification than to foreclose which is very costly to the bank.

Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican chairman of the committee, said it was disappointing that Democrats were unfairly objecting to Trumps nominees and that if the Senate concentrated on Mnuchins qualifications there would be little if any opposition to Mr Mnuchins nomination.

Hatch dismissed Warrens conference as a mock hearing that was essentially unrelated to Mr Mnuchins qualification for the job.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/19/steven-mnuchin-financial-disclosure-confirmation-treasury


Ben Carson refuses to guarantee no housing funds will benefit Trump

Former presidential candidate is accused of plagiarism in opening remarks at Senate confirmation hearing for housing secretary post

Ben Carson has refused to guarantee that no federal housing funds would benefit the Trump family should he be confirmed as the secretary of housing and urban development (Hud).

The retired neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate faced a pointed line of questioning during his Thursday hearing before a Senate committee, and although he said he will absolutely not play favorites for anyone, he declined to give a direct promise that none of the billions of dollars that Hud distributes in grants and loans would benefit the president-elect, his family, or their real estate holdings.

It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American, he said. Its for all Americans, everything that we do.

The Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren repeatedly questioned Carson on the matter. Although Carson avoided directly answering her questions, he did say he would not cut or limit a program if someone gained money from it.

If there happens to be an extraordinarily good program thats working for millions of people, and it turns out that someone that youre targeting is going to gain, you know, $10 from it, am I going to say no, the rest of you Americans cant have it? I think logic and common sense probably would be the best way, he said.

Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, ended her careful line of questions to call for the passage of a law she and other Democrats proposed this week that would require Trump to place all of his assets in a blind trust.

She told Carson: The problem is that you cant assure us that Hud money, not of $10 varieties but of multimillion-dollar varieties, will not end up in the president-elects pockets. And the reason you cant assure us of that is because the president-elect is hiding his familys business interests from you, from me, from the rest of America. And this just highlights the absurdity and the danger of the president-elects refusal to put his assets in a true blind trust.

Warren criticized Trumps continued refusal to distance himself completely from his business empire before taking office. On Wednesday, in his first press conference since July, Trump and one of his lawyers said all control of Trumps business assets would be handed over to his adult sons. Trump has repeatedly ignored calls from ethics experts to create a blind trust. The head of the federal governments ethics agency made a rare public statement on Wednesday evening to say that Trumps proposal to put his children in charge of the business would not be satisfactory to avoid conflicts and broke with 40 years of precedent.

Before Carson faced Warrens questions, he delivered off-the-cuff opening remarks, speaking freely instead of reading directly from the written statement he had prepared and submitted in advance of Thursdays hearing.

At least a portion of those prepared remarks appear to have been plagiarized, reported the Washington Post, including two paragraphs copied word-for-word from a 2008 policy report published by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation. The text describes the dangers of lead paint and the impact that unsafe housing can have on health.

A spokesman for the president-elects transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Guardian, but told the Post that the mistake was in error and that a set of hyperlinks and footnotes meant to be included in the text seems to have fallen off.

Other senators on the committee questioned Carson on his personal background growing up in poverty, his lack of government experience, and his previously expressed desire to reduce government spending.

Carson, who has no government experience and no political experience aside from his failed bid to be the Republican nominee for president, spoke extensively about his upbringing and his work as a neurosurgeon and philanthropist. Republican senators questioning him on Thursday seemed largely unworried by the prospect of Carson running a large federal agency despite his lack of experience.

Senator Mike Rounds brushed aside such concerns, saying: It seems to me that probably running this department is not really brain surgery, and if you can handle that you most certainly have the abilities to step in and look at this with fresh eyes.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/12/ben-carson-housing-secretary-confirmation-hearing


Paul Ryan lists Trump-era priorities as he insists Republicans have ‘mandate’

Speakers remarks at odds with president-elect as Trump tells CBS he plans to deport as many as three million people and fence may replace sections of wall

The wall that Donald Trump has promised to build on the US-Mexico border may in part be some fencing, the president-elect said in an interview released on Sunday, as the top Republican already in Washington hinted at disagreements and uncertainties for how they intend to govern together.

In an interview with CBSs 60 Minutes, Trump said there could be some fencing in his proposed wall, which would span nearly 2,000 miles and cost billions. On the campaign trail he promised that the barrier would be exclusively built of hardened concrete, rebar and steel.

Im very good at this, he told CBS. Its called construction.

Also on Sunday, Paul Ryan, speaker of the House and the lawmaker poised to write sweeping new legislation for the Republican-controlled government, said he believed his party had a mandate to reshape healthcare, taxes, regulations and border security for the Trump administration.

Discrepancies between Trumps promises and Ryans plans, however, suggested that the president-elect and his future Congress do not yet know how they will make such changes.

Ryan insisted, for instance, that Trumps priority would not be the mass deportation of millions of undocumented migrants.

That is not what our focus is, we are focused on securing the border before we get on any immigration, Ryan told CNNs State of the Union. We are not planning on erecting a deportation force, Donald Trumps not planning on that.

Trump has repeatedly promised a deportation force and in August said: Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone! In his CBS interview, he said he would deport as many as 3 million people.

What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate, Trump said.

But were getting them out of our country, theyre here illegally.

In June, Ryan broke with Trump over a proposed ban on Muslims entering the US. On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani, one of the president-elects advisers, said the ban would now be imposed on a country-by-country basis.

The ban would be restricted to particular countries, the former New York mayor told CNN, naming Syria and Yemen. All the rest from countries that contain dangerous populations, they would be subject to extreme vetting.

Giuliani suggested the US could work with regimes in Egypt and Pakistan for pretty good vetting, but not a complete ban.

Speaker Ryan also said the Republican party, which until last year largely supported Barack Obamas free trade agenda with Asia, was not entirely behind Trumps promises to impose high tariffs on countries such as China and Mexico.

Not tariffs, not trade wars, Ryan said, instead saying he wanted to fix our taxes on border adjustments.

He maintained that the party would find common ground with the new president, saying: Hes trying to make America more competitive.

Ryan echoed Trump in suggesting that the party intended to keep some parts of Barack Obamas Affordable Care Act, while repealing the healthcare law itself.

A full repeal could mean as many as 20 million people losing health insurance. Ryan told CNN that people 26 and younger could, according to his proposals, stay on their parents plan, and that Congress would need to have a solution for pre-existing conditions. He also said the party would propose refundable tax credits that would lower the cost of coverage.

We would have a healthcare system in America where everyone, regardless of income and position, he said, would get to buy what you want to buy, not what the government is making you buy.

But Ryan refused to answer questions about whether women would still be able to have birth control covered.

Im not going to get into all the nitty gritty details about these things, he said, adding, Im not going to get into hypotheticals about legislation that hasnt even been written yet.

Giuliani also insisted that Trump would have no conflicts of interest in office, even if he hands control of his sprawling, international business to three of his children, who have acted as his closest advisers.

Once he gets into government they will not be they will not be advising, Giuliani said. There will have to be a wall between them with regard to government matters.

Ryan also expressed confidence in Trump and his entourage, which includes Steve Bannon, a former investor and far-right media chief executive whose website, Breitbart, has trafficked in openly racist, sexist, homophobic and antisemitic writing.

Ive never met the guy. Ive never met Steve Bannon, Ryan said. So I have no concerns. I trust Donald Trump.

I believe that Donald is going to have a great set of choices to make for staffing [the White House], Ryan continued. Hes a successful person, he surrounds himself with successful people. So Im confident hes going to do the same here.

He denounced the perpetrators of hate crimes and racist graffiti that have been reported since Trumps victory, saying: They are not Republicans and we dont want them.

We are pluralistic, we are inclusive, and will continue to be. I really think people should put their minds at ease.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/13/paul-ryan-donald-trump-republicans-mandate


How a power trip could doom the agency that took down Wells Fargo

Consumer Financial Protection Bureaus critics want to shut the agency down and claim its structure is unconstitutional and unaccountable to the public

The resignation last week of the chief executive of Wells Fargo should have been a high point for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB announced in early September that it would receive the lions share of a $185m fine levied on Wells Fargo as punishment for encouraging employees to open millions of savings and credit accounts for customers without their knowledge or consent. The rest went to Los Angeles regulators and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Then came congressional hearings, at which Stumpf one of those rare individuals whom Democrats and Republicans could agree was a villain embarrassed himself by fumbling the questions and passing the buck up to his board of directors and down to the rank-and-file employees who actually opened the accounts.

Nor was that the only highlight for the CFPB of late. The agency has issued new rules governing prepaid cards, an alternative to checking accounts used by large numbers of unbanked Americans who cant afford the rising fees traditional banks levy on checking accounts, or for whom banks decline to open accounts.

As the wealth gap has widened, the prepaid industry has soared, from being worth $1bn in 2003 to $65bn by 2012. Users tend to be among the more vulnerable members of society: making less than $50,000, renters rather than homeowners, minorities and women, according to research by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In other words, they tend to be vulnerable to abuse or simple misunderstanding. The CPFBs new rules will require clear disclosure about what fees the card issuer will charge to check a balance, for instance, and ensure that losses will be limited to what a conventional debit card holder would face if their card was lost or stolen.

So far, so good for the CPFB. A US appeals court, however, rained on the agencys parade, while members of Congress and others raised questions about whether the CFPB has embarked on some kind of power trip.

The court was considering an appeal in a case involving whether the CFPB had the right to impose a $103m fine on mortgage service PHH, for allegedly taking kickbacks for directing customers to a particular insurance company. The case reached the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia, where a three-judge panel headed by Brett Kavanaugh, a George W Bush appointee, handed down its ruling last Tuesday.

Unconstitutional, Kavanaugh thundered. Not the CFPB itself, but its structure, which is headed by a single individual, Richard Cordray, who serves for a fixed term. Typically, heads of such agencies serve either at the presidents pleasure or as part of a group, such as the five-member Securities and Exchange Commission.

So much for the brief, fleeting moment of bipartisanship as Democrats and Republicans joined in bashing Stumpf.

If you believe Republicans, the CFPB part of the Dodd-Frank reforms that followed the financial crisis of 2008 is, in the words of Kavanaugh, a grave threat to individual liberty, a phrase he used once every three pages or so in his 98-page decision.

Investors Business Daily agrees. The CFPB is an out-of-control and dangerous entity, it wrote the Frankensteins Monster of federal regulatory agencies that is almost entirely unaccountable to the public.

Translation: the CFPBs critics want to shut the agency down lest it become even more effective, and are taking a weird and sometimes mutually contradictory variety of approaches to doing so.

When the CFPB has been slower than it might have been to act, as in the case of Wells Fargo, Republicans have taken delight in accusing it of being asleep at the switch, in the words of Texas representative Jeb Hensarling, the CFPBs chief critic in the House.

When the CFPB has been proactive in its core areas mortgage lending, credit cards and student loans this has also attracted criticism. For instance, while its mission didnt include looking at for-profit colleges, the agencys emphasis on student loans led it realize that a disproportionate number of problems were tied to entities such as Corinthian colleges and ITT Technical Institute, which took advantage of the student loan system while at the same time misrepresenting graduation rates. It sued both schools for predatory lending, prompting their collapses.

Still, in at least one case, a federal judge (another George W Bush appointee) denied the agency access to information about how an accreditor signed off on programs offered by these colleges.

Although it is understandable that new agencies like the CFPB will struggle to establish the exact parameters of their authority, they must be especially prudent before choosing to plow headlong into fields not clearly ceded to them by Congress, tsk-tsked US district judge Richard J Leon.

Last weeks ruling could have been a lot worse, and Hensarling is probably gnashing his teeth in fury, wishing that the DC court had gone further. Cordray will now serve at the presidents pleasure, rather than for a fixed five-year term unless the agency appeals and the decision is overturned.

This isnt impossible: its hard to argue how the presence of a single individual at the helm of an agency offers a threat to liberty, unless the agency under that individual restricted the ability of those it regulated to access the court system to complain about its judgments. The fact that PHH did precisely that in this instance is evidence that theres no tyranny at work.

What Hensarling and his buddies are really irate about is that the CFPB gets its funding independently thats the lack of accountability that Investors Business Daily was getting huffy about. In other words, its not politicized: the CFPB doesnt have to grovel to Congress annually to keep its budget.

The agency has reason to be concerned. Even as Dodd-Frank expanded the list of SEC responsibilities, Congress, perhaps under pressure from the financial services industry, actually cut the amount of money it had to work with.

The SECs 2017 budget will be unchanged, it now seems. But yet again, that entity only narrowly escaped a cut.

In contrast, the CFPB is financially independent of Congress, being funded directly by the Federal Reserve (and collecting its fines, as other agencies do) and that drives Hensarling and other opponents crazy.

They may characterize that as being unaccountable to ordinary Americans, but I think it actually enables the agency to listen to ordinary Americans rather than to the Very Loud Voices of the lobbyists who have a disproportionate impact on Congress.

So far, at least the CFPB doesnt seem to be using any superpowers it might have to threaten my life, liberty or pursuit of happiness.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/us-money-blog/2016/oct/16/wells-fargo-consumer-financial-protection-bureau-congress-critics


Trump’s meeting with congressional Republicans inspires divided response

Republican opponents of Trump were unimpressed with the candidates remarks Thursday while his supporters gave multiple standing ovations

Republican opponents of Donald Trump in Congress described meetings with the presumptive GOP nominee as awkward on Thursday and sparred with him, while Trumps supporters raved about his visit to Capitol Hill.

Trump held separate meetings with both the House and Senate caucuses on a sweltering summer day as he tried to continue to unify the GOP behind him.

The Republican nominee, accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief strategist Paul Manafort, started the day by meeting with House Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club. Cable news pundit Larry Kudlow introduced Trump, who also joked and exchanged hugs with speaker Paul Ryan, who has long been unenthusiastic about the real estate developers candidacy.

Some House members left the private meetings giving a highly positive account of Trumps comments. Rep Ralph Abraham of Louisiana said his partys nominee talked about growth, security and prosperity, all the good things while fellow Louisiana congressman and Senate candidate John Fleming said there was a lot of positive energy and the entire conference was uniting behind Donald Trump.

In his remarks, Trump reportedly addressed a number of policy issues while also harping on what he felt was unfair media criticism over his praise for Saddam Hussein killing terrorists in recent days. His grievances were shared by many in the room. Rep Trent Franks of Arizona, a self-described former critic of Trump complained to reporters afterwards that you missed all the ugly things he said about Saddam Hussein but if he says he [Saddam] kills terrorists hes in love with Saddam Hussein. Of all the stupidity and misappropriation of the truth.

Although Trump received multiple standing ovations, he may not have been the most popular member of his family in the room. When Rep Peter King of New York said members had their choice who to take a picture with, they flocked towards Trumps daughter, Ivanka. Shes the star, King said

But there were also critics in the room. South Carolina Rep Mark Sanford mocked Trump afterward for referencing article XII of the Constitution in response to a question about article I, which delineates Congresss powers. There are only seven articles in the Constitution.

Other longtime Trump detractors were left unimpressed, too. Rep Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Iraq War veteran, grimaced at Trumps unprompted mention of the Saddam controversy. Rep Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania rolled his eyes in describing Trump to reporters. He complained about the media, shocking, said Dent. The Pennsylvania Republican also noted that Trump proclaimed: Hispanics love him. Dent noted that this statement was not borne out in any polls.

In a meeting afterwards with senators only a few blocks away, things got more heated. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who has pointedly refused to endorse Trump, reportedly confronted the Republican nominee. Flake noted that he was the Arizona senator who wasnt captured, a reference to Trumps disparaging remarks last year about John McCain, and Trump responded by predicting Flake would fail to win re-election. Illinois senator Mark Kirk, who has withdrawn his endorsement of the nominee, later told reporters: I think Trump will get a vote like Alan Keyes got in Illinois, around 28%, a reference to the sacrificial lamb candidate who ran for the Senate against Barack Obama in 2004.

Other Republicans tried to play down the exchanges between Flake and Trump. Sen John Thune of South Dakota told reporters that they were simply the kind of frank exchange you have inside the family while Sen Thom Tillis of North Carolina insisted that this was a perfectly appropriate discussion that only made up a few minutes of a longer meeting.

Yet despite those conflicts, many senators enthused about the meeting. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a longtime supporter of Trump, said there were a massive number of converts after the meeting. After the gathering, Trump held a one-on-one meeting with primary rival Ted Cruz and asked the Texas senator to speak at the convention. Cruz, who has yet to endorse him, agreed.

Others attending praised Trumps policy chops. Tim Scott of South Carolina thought the discussion was meaty and there was a lot of policy while senator Bob Corker of Tennessee noted that Trump showed theres a lot more nuance to his positions than people realized. However, there was a tendency for the presumptive nominee to ramble, as Sen Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma noted: Youve watched him; he talked about every issue.

Yet all that policy detail still didnt woo the most diehard never-Trump member of the Senate. Ben Sasse has long been vocal about his opposition to Trump and in a statement, a spokesman for the Nebraska senator said: Senator Sasse went to todays meeting ready to listen. Senator Sasse introduced himself to Mr Trump and the two had a gracious exchange. Mr Sasse continues to believe that our country is in a bad place and, with these two candidates, this election remains a dumpster fire. Nothing has changed.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/07/donald-trump-meeting-congress-republicans-divided-responses


Let’s drug-test the rich before approving tax deductions, US congresswoman says

Gwen Moore to propose bill requiring tests for returns with itemized deductions of more than $150,000, in response to rights criminalization of poverty

Wisconsins governor, Scott Walker, really, really wants to know if needy residents of his state use recreational drugs. Hes already put into effect legislation forcing applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tanf), commonly known as welfare, to answer questions about their potential drug use and submit to testing if their answers provide a reasonable suspicion that they might use controlled substances. Hes suing the federal government for the right to test Wisconsin participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Snap), better known as food stamps, for the same reason. And in May, he issued new administrative rules to implement drug testing for some people seeking unemployment benefits in the state.

His is not a unique interest: Governor Rick Scott of Florida, for instance, spent four years and $1.5m taxpayer dollars fighting for the right to test all his states Tanf recipients; and Alabama congressman Robert Aderholt has proposed legislation to overturn the law that prevents the testing of Snap recipients.

Milwaukee congresswoman Gwen Moore, though, is sick and tired, and sick and tired of being sick and tired, of the criminalization of poverty she said in an interview on Wednesday. And, she added: Were not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off Snap. But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, lets start on the other end of the income spectrum.

Moore plans to introduce a bill on Thursday that she thinks will even the playing field or, at least, engage the wealthy in a conversation about what fair tax policy looks like. The bill, called the Top 1% Accountability Act, would force taxpayers with itemized deductions of more than $150,000 which, according to 2011 tax data compiled by the IRS, would only be households with a yearly federal adjusted gross income of more than $1m to submit to the IRS a clear drug test from a sample no more than three months old, or take the much lower standard deduction when filing their taxes. (In 2016, for comparison, the standard deduction for single people or married people filing separately is $6,300.)

Moore said she was inspired by fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan, the current House speaker, to introduce the bill. When he stood in front of a drug treatment center and rolled out his anti-poverty initiative, pushing this narrative that poor people are drug addicts, that was the last straw, she said, referring to a speech that Ryan made last week.

Though most people think about their tax deductions and credits particularly those such as mortgage interest or charitable deductions as part of the governments revenue system, they are considered expenditures within the federal government, as they subtract from government revenue and are often instituted to subsidize, reward or encourage taxpayer behaviors.

It might use slightly different mechanisms, but the government provides money to Tanf, Snap and unemployment benefit recipients in much the same way that it provides money to people who own homes, contribute to charities or go to college. Most people including those with high incomes, who qualify for far more deductions and credits than the average person just dont see tax deductions as a subsidy similar to those given to low-income people in the form of benefits.

Moore thinks that needs to change. The benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top 1%, she said. Its a drop in the bucket.

We spend $81bn on everything everything that you could consider a poverty program, she explained. But just by taxing capital gains at a lower rate than other income, a bit of the tax code far more likely to benefit the rich than the poor, thats a $93bn expenditure. Just capital gains, she added. And though her bill wouldnt have any effect on low- and middle-income Americans, clawing back more than $100,000 in deductions from even a handful of super-wealthy recreational drug users who would be forced to pay for their own tests could be a much more significant revenue-raiser than testing Tanf recipients.

Even Oprah gets the mortgage interest deduction, she noted.

For instance, the seven states who implemented drug testing for Tanf recipients spent $1m on testing from the (recent) inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among Tanf recipients has been far below the national average around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population meaning theres been little cost savings from the program. Why? Probably because they cant afford it, notes Moore.

We might really save some money by drug-testing folks on Wall Street, who might have a little cocaine before they get their deal done, she said.

The congresswoman, who has been outspoken about using federal assistance programs such as welfare and food stamps to work her way out poverty, said: Im grateful for the taxpayers for that, and I have given back tenfold.

I think everyone should have that same opportunity.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/16/gwen-moore-drug-test-rich-for-tax-deductions


Join, or die: Paul Ryan signals desire to put party unity ahead of Trump anxiety

House speaker says this election is too important to go in at half strength ahead of Trumps meeting with Republican leadership on Capitol Hill on Thursday

After declining to endorse Donald Trump last week, Paul Ryan on Wednesday said he hoped an upcoming meeting with the presumptive Republican nominee would begin the process of unifying the party in order to defeat Hillary Clinton in November.

Addressing reporters on Wednesday, one day before Trump is to meet Ryan and other Republicans on Capitol Hill, the House speaker said the stakes were too high to gloss over and fail to address the lingering differences within the party.

To pretend were unified as a party after coming through a very bruising primary, which just ended like a week ago, to pretend were unified without actually unifying, then we go into the fall at half strength, Ryan said at his weekly press conference.

This election is too important to go into an election at half strength. That means that we need a real unification of our party. Which, look, after a tough primary thats going to take some effort.

Ryan stunned many in Washington with his announcement last week that he was not yet ready to support Trump, laying bare an unprecedented distance between the highest ranking Republican in the nation and the partys presumptive nominee, who for the next six months will serve as its standard bearer in the general election.

At least a few rank-and-file members stood up in a closed-door Republican conference meeting to express their discomfort with Ryans declaration, according to a source in the room. There were others who were instead supportive of Ryans statement, reflecting the deepening chasm among Republicans who are damned if they embrace Trump and damned if they dont.

Some House Republicans have stated publicly that they will not back Trump as the nominee, particularly those from key battleground states, such as Illeana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Scott Rigell of Virginia. At the same time, there are those Republicans hailing from more conservative districts who are under growing pressure to rally around Trump.

Trump struck a conciliatory tone toward Ryan during an interview on Wednesday, telling conservative radio host Don Imus the House speaker is a very good person [who] loves the party and loves the country.

Maybe more than anything else, we have to get to know each other, Trump said. I really think probably well come out with something thats going to be good, I hope, otherwise Ill just continue on the path that I continue on.

Trump is scheduled to meet Republican leaders in Congress on Thursday, including a separate meeting with Ryan and Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Ryan has routinely criticized Trumps controversial statements, from banning Muslim immigration into the US to the real estate moguls initial refusal to disavow the endorsement of a former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke. The two men also have vast policy differences, ranging from entitlement reform to trade to immigration.

Ryan was mum on what he would need to hear from Trump in order for the billionaire to secure his confidence, confessing that they had met only once, in 2012, when Ryan was Mitt Romneys vice-presidential nominee.

I dont really know him, Ryan said. We just need to get to know each other and we as a leadership team are enjoying the fact that we have a chance to meet with him.

Ryans counterpart Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, issued a tepid endorsement of Trump following the crushing victory in the Indiana primary last week that forced his only remaining rivals, Texas senator Ted Cruz and Ohio governor John Kasich, out of the race.

While at least three Republican senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Dean Heller of Nevada have come out against Trump, others returning to Washington after a weeklong recess appeared resigned to accepting him as the nominee.

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who engaged in a bitter feud with Trump while competing for the Republican nomination, said on Tuesday he would honor the pledge he signed as a candidate to support the nominee. Even so, he maintained his prior criticisms and reservations about Trump and declined to explicitly say if he would vote for him in November.

Senator Kelly Ayotte, who faces a tough re-election fight in New Hampshire, also sought to walk a fine line by stating she would support and vote for Trump but not offer him a formal endorsement.

Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats in November, many of which are in states won by Barack Obama in previous election cycles. Trump also risks potentially expanding the competitive electoral map to states such as Arizona, where Senator John McCain recently confessed at a private fundraiser that having the former reality TV star at the top of the ticket would make his re-election the race of my life.

Senator Pat Toomey, once thought to be in a more comfortable race in Pennsylvania, responded to Trumps nomination by penning an op-ed in one of his home states newspapers seeking to distance himself from many of Trumps outlandish proposals and comments toward women, immigrants and Muslims.

Trump was not my first, second, or third choice. I object to much in his manner and his policies, Toomey wrote. Winning the nomination is a great accomplishment, but it does not mean party members check their judgment at the door.

Even so, Toomey added he was inclined to support the nominee of his party.

Other influential Republicans were more openly prepared to embrace Trump, including Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Senate intelligence committee chief, and Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.

Corker downplayed Trumps brash demeanor, telling reporters that Republican primary voters wanted a personality and someone who is irreverent but that the campaign had now entered a second phase, drilling down on policy.

When people say Never this or never that, I think a better place to be is to chill and let the campaign evolve a little bit and see where the candidate ends up, Corker said.

Susan Collins, a senator from Maine who has often broken with her party on key issues, said she expected to eventually support Trump as long as he could assume the role of a more serious general election candidate.

He needs to reach out to Republicans, articulate more clearly what a Trump presidency would look like, and he needs to tone down and abandon the personal insults that have marred his campaign, she said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/11/republicans-donald-trump-paul-ryan-party-unity


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