Trump's Accomplishments Obscured by Distractions


Cal Thomas, December 14, 2017


Side issues -- some of them created by the president himself -- have obscured the accomplishments of the Trump administration during his first year in office.

The economy is the most obvious one. From anemic growth in the previous administration, it is now growing at around 3 percent, which economists say is ideal. The stock market continues to set records, fattening retirement portfolios.

Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2000. It is also at a 17-year low for African-Americans, and it has dropped for all other major racial and ethnic groups. The black community is unlikely to give the president much credit because of its addiction to the Democratic Party, even though that party has taken their votes for granted and done little for them.

The good economic news may be penetrating the largely negative media coverage. The Wall Street Journal reports: "Although President Donald Trump's overall approval ratings have dropped to the lowest point of his presidency, he is getting significantly higher marks in one important area: his handling of the economy."

During the campaign, candidate Trump promised to increase the number of manufacturing jobs. Critics said he couldn't do it because those jobs were gone forever. A White House statement claims that 159,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since the president took office. This contrasts with the final year of the Obama administration, when manufacturing jobs were being trimmed at an average of 1,000 per month, according to the statement.

The Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy estimates that the administration's economic policies will increase tax revenue by $1.8 trillion over 10 years.

On his visits to China, Vietnam and South Korea, the president achieved trade deals worth more than $270 billion that will benefit American companies and their employees.

The "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria established by the Islamic State has been effectively destroyed, primarily because the president lifted rules of engagement and allowed the military to go after the terrorists as if this is a real war, which it is, and not a conflict where one side is burdened by rules and the other isn't.

Illegal immigration has declined substantially even before a wall is constructed.

The president is fulfilling other promises. He is populating the federal courts with judges who are subject to the constraints of the Constitution and don't have a history of legislating from the bench.

Unnecessary regulations on businesses imposed by the previous administration are being rolled back, which is helping to fuel the economic boom.

There is much more, but these accomplishments are being obscured by some of the president's own actions and rhetoric. He continues to bring up the 2016 election and remains critical of Hillary Clinton. It is unnecessary. Instead, he should be touting the tangible and verifiable successes his administration is producing.

Next year the administration plans to tackle welfare reform and finalize a plan on immigration that includes a decision on what to do about the "dreamers," children of illegal immigrants who were brought to America at a young age, and chain migration.

Another priority in the new year should be the liberation of poor and minority children from failing public schools. Trump promised to do this during his campaign. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been a champion of school choice, and she, along with the president, should begin a show-and-tell series of events that feature children who were learning nothing in their former schools and are now in private or charter public schools where they are getting a real education and feel safe.

The president is starting to get credit on the economy. He will earn more if he exercises self-discipline, controls the content of his tweets and adopts an optimistic message while toning down -- way down -- the anger and the criticism of others.

The Democrats are offering nothing. A Washington Post headline from earlier this week read: "Despite recent wins, Democrats remain divided about what they stand for."

It's a great opportunity for the president and the Republican Party to remind voters not only what they stand for (if they know), but what they are accomplishing.

Plan B: Sex

Bernard Goldberg, December 14, 2017

Democrats who want Donald Trump removed from office need a backup plan in case the Russian collusion thing doesn't pan out. And Plan B, I suspect, is sex.

Ideally, of course, liberals would like a smoking gun showing that Trump and Vladimir Putin were in cahoots and over a few shots of vodka at Putin's country house in Sochi they conspired to throw the 2016 election, which would be grounds for impeachment. Absent that, they'd be perfectly happy removing Trump from office by way of the 25th Amendment, on grounds that he's nuts. But they know that won't fly. That leaves the "S" word.

Here's how Democrats hope the sex option plays out: If Al Franken had to go because of sex and if John Conyers had to go because of sex and if Bill Clinton should have resigned because of sex - how in the world can Donald Trump stay in office with all those sex allegations hanging over him?

We Democrats went after our own over sex, the argument goes, now it's time for you Republicans to go after your own -- Donald J. Trump -- and while you're at it, Judge Roy Moore.

Leading the crusade to put Donald Trump on a bus back to Manhattan is the woman who took Hillary Clinton's seat in the U.S. Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, a progressive who was the first of her Democratic colleagues to call for Franken's resignation. A few weeks earlier she broke sacred ground saying Bill Clinton should have resigned for his sexual misconduct.

So why would a progressive Democrat who has been tight with the Clintons for years suddenly decide to abandon her old friend, the former president -- 25 years after the fact? I hate to be cynical but maybe it has something to do with her much talked about ambition to be president and run for the job in 2020. Being at the forefront of a movement to bring down Trump because of alleged sexual misconduct -- even if her pal Bill Clinton is collateral damage -- would give her a lot of street cred among the progressives she'd need to win the nomination.

As for Al Franken, whatever he did or didn't do, he was, as a friend of mine put it, the Democrats' "sacrificial lamb." Trading him for the chance to oust Trump was a no-brainer.

But even while he was drowning in allegations, Senator Franken had some defenders. And they're not all fellow Democrats.

Two staunch conservatives -- Newt Gingrich and Laura Ingraham -- were on Fox News the other night defending Al Franken on grounds that a "lynch mob" was out to get him and that he shouldn't be forced out without "due process."

I guess it's possible that conservatives who detest his left-wing politics, and probably don't even like him, would defend Franken on principle, but I'm not buying it.

So here's a theory on what Gingrich and Ingraham are really up to: If they defend Franken on due process grounds -- that there was no hearing where he could formally defend himself -- and that a "lynch mob" fueled a feeding frenzy against the senator, then it's much easier for Gingrich and Ingraham and other true-blue conservatives to defend -- guess who? -- Donald J. Trump and Judge Roy Moore. If Franken was unfairly hunted down by a "lynch mob" -- Gingrich's term -- then let's not let our guys suffer the same fate.

These days, partisans, both on the right and left, are so devious that they make Machiavelli look like an amateur, a wimp, a regular Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

One last thing: Back in 1983, on the eve of a race for governor, Edwin Edwards, a Louisiana Democrat who in his own way was a colorful as Donald Trump, said that, "The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."

This is bad news for Democrats salivating over the possibility that Trump won't last his entire term. The only way he's going to be driven from office is if he winds up in exactly the situation Edwards described. Unless, of course, that smoking gun emerges -- and it has Trump's and Putin's fingerprints all over it.

Oh, yeah -- Edwards won!

Donna Brazile Rails Against the DNC for Letting the Clinton Campaign Run the Show

Cortney O'Brien, December 14, 2017

Washington, D.C. - All eyes were on the election results in the Alabama Senate race Tuesday night. Yet, Donna Brazile, former interim chair for the Democratic National Committee, was busy entertaining an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. with her firsthand account of what went down at the DNC during last year's presidential primary. By the end, the audience seemed convinced that the Russian hacking of the DNC only exacerbated the internal issues of an already flailing party.

Brazile, promoting her new book, "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House," was very candid with the Press Club attendees about what transpired after she answered the call to act as DNC chair last year. To put it lightly, she found rampant incompetence, one major issue being the committee's misuse of funds. 

She recounted one phone call she received from a "clerk" named Brandon four days before Election Day, informing her they had $1.5 million to spend. Although a bit late in the game, she was eager to spend the money. About an hour later, this same clerk called back to let her know their initial assessment was wrong - it was actually only $750,000 - the rest of the money would be going toward weekend cable shows.

"Who watches cable on the weekend?" she asked.

As we know from the excerpts published in Politico last month, Brazile was also not a fan of the DNC's "side agreement" with Hillary Clinton when she was still one of the crop of candidates. The joint fundraising agreement they had allowed the Clinton campaign to "control" the DNC's funds. 

"This agreement prevented me from doing my job," Brazile said. "I wanted to blow the agreement up." 

I asked her to clarify whether or not she believed the primary had been "rigged" for Hillary Clinton, considering there had been conflicting media reports about her characterization. 

"I found out that it was not, because of course Hillary Clinton won the primary," she said.

But man was she peeved about that fundraising agreement. It "broke her heart," she said, because it gave "credence" to the idea that the DNC staff may have been working for Hillary. She goes into more detail in "Hacks."

The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.

Had Brazile known of the agreement, she said she "never" would have accepted the chair position.

It's all juicy stuff and it's all there in her book. Yet, she said she warned all the important players that the book was coming, including Secretary Clinton and Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook.

While she laid out a litany of DNC failures, Brazile did leave room for hope. If you go to their headquarters now, she said, you'd think you had just left the TSA. Clearly, they were spooked by last year's Russian cyber breach. 

"I wanted to wrap the entire Democratic Party with yellow caution tape,” she said. “That’s how fearful I was.”

Since the hacking, Brazile has been more outspoken about cyber security, telling the audience to make sure their mobile devices are secure. 

"Make sure that your password isn't 'password' or '1234,'" she said.

Brazile said she was also heartened by the proposals at last week's DNC unity commission meeting. Brazile also noted that the amount of resources and attention the DNC has paid to Alabama proves that the party is no longer "cherry picking" states and candidates.

Brazile said she's grateful they’ve put in place some administrative tools and will recommend an ombudsman. They've made clear that the chair will be taking more advice from the rest of the committee. Everyone should feel "comfortable" to voice their opinions at the table, she said.

Months ago, new DNC Chairman Tom Perez asked Brazile if she wanted to be on the unity commission and "for the first time in her adult life," she declined. 

I’m learning how to say no,” she said.



Nonpartisan Analysis: GOP Plan Would Reduce Taxes and Increase Incomes Across 'Every Scenario Modeled,' Especially for the Middle Class

Guy Benson, November 30, 2017

 - In a significant step forward, the US Senate has adopted a crucial "motion to proceed," triggering a formal floor debate over the GOP tax reform bill.  It was a strict party line affair: All 52 upper chamber Republicans voted in the affirmative, whereas every single Democrat -- including "moderates" like Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Joe Donnelly, Jon Tester, Bill Nelson and Heidi Heitkamp -- dutifully saluted Chuck Schumer and voted to block even debating middle class tax cuts and simplification.  The Democrats failed, and the bill is now on the floor.  This is an important procedural win for the GOP, but final passage will be a bigger test.

ORIGINAL POST - We'll get to the study mentioned in the headline shortly -- but first, it's already time for another tax reform fact check, necessitated by the Left's relentless machine of anti-reform propaganda and distortions.  On MSNBC, anchor Ali Velshi butchered the facts on the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the projected impact of Senate Republicans' tax reform bill.  Here's the segment in which he disseminates, well, fake news, followed by an explanation of exactly how he misrepresented the CBO chart. Via the Free Beacon:

 Velshi's claim that "by 2021, people making less than $30,000 a year are going to pay between $5,000 and $9,000 more in taxes," is false.

That's a bad error, but isn't it still troublesome that the data he references estimates that the very lowest income groups would end up contributing more revenue (collectively) to the federal government, whereas that burden gets reduced for all other households making $40,000 or more annually?  Well, that might seem like a very serious problem if you were operating without context.  In reality, these fictional "tax increases" arise from the bill's repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate tax.  Just as people choosing not to purchase Obamacare plans that they don't want or can't afford is not "kicking them off of healthcare," people choosing to forego federal dollars in the form of Obamacare subsidies is not "raising taxes" on them.  Those are voluntary decisions.  Here are the real numbers

Reductions across the board, with the exception of a few income groups at the end of the budget window -- due to the on-paper expiration issue (another source of misleading demagoguery) we dealt with at length yesterday.  Here's more from National Review:

For more than a week now, some media outlets have been running wild with “distributional tables” from the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office claiming that — as a CNN headline last night put it, though the story itself was much better — “Poor Americans would lose billions under Senate GOP tax bill.” This is entirely an artifact of how the agencies approach the individual mandate, which the bill repeals. They think a lot of lower-income Americans won’t buy health insurance absent a requirement that they do so, and that as a result these individuals will get less in government subsidies. As Nicole Kaeding of the Tax Foundation put it, “Less of an advanceable refund from the Treasury results in the appearance of a tax increase.” She pointed out that the JCT itself had released a separate table that excluded the effects of repealing the mandate and showed, unsurprisingly, that all income groups got a tax cut. We now have such a table from the CBO as well. Through 2025, after which point the individual tax cuts expire (though they’ll likely be renewed by a future Congress), all income groups see a tax cut.

It's also worth recalling that CBO has routinely and vastly overestimated the power of the individual mandate tax, leading to scary-looking, inflated numbers that hurt Republicans during their failed 'repeal and replace' push. For example, great numberof those who'd supposedly "lose coverage" with the mandate axed are...Medicaid recipients.  Medicaid is free to beneficiaries (but not taxpayers, obviously).  They're trying to tell us that people will give up free (if deeply substandard) coverage just because they're no longer required to hold it?  It's totally illogical. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this infographic from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, illustrating how various households would be be impacted by the Senate GOP tax reform package.  As you peruse these numbers, recall that the Left is screaming that these proposals are anti-middle class monstrosities:

Quote: "Our results indicate a reduction in tax liability for every scenario we modeled, with some of the largest cuts accruing to moderate-income families with children."  The majority are automatic winners, as they're among the vast majority of all filerswho take the (roughly doubled) standard deduction.  Every household profiled in the analysis gets a tax cut and an increase in after-tax earnings.  The smallest percentage cut and income boost goes to the richest couple.  Another busted narrative.

 Parting thought: Many lefties are dismissing the Tax Foundation analysis, complaining that the group is "nonpartisan in name only."  By that standard, the same could be said of the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, which...also found that Americans across all income groups, on average, would get a tax cut under the House-passed Republican bill.

Editors Corner

I witnessed a near fatal collision this morning at intersection of Browns Hill Rd. and West Main St. in Locust. I had gone to BO Jangles to get a coffee to go and was waiting to enter Browns Hill Road. I noticed a big red pickup truck in the left lane trying to make a left turn on to West Main St. and a small silver car In the right lane trying to turn right towards Charlotte. There was no way the driver of the small car could see around the large red pickup truck. The driver in the red pickup truck saw an opportunity to make a left turn and started out only to see a car come around the slower traffic coming west bound on West Main St. the driver in the red pickup truck slammed on his brakes to avoid a collision with to on coming traffic. The small silver car pulled out and started making a right turn into the coming path of the west bound car. Thank goodness for the fifth middle turn lane. The driver coming west on West Main St. swerved over into the fifth lane and avoided striking the slow moving small silver car. I would suggest that until the NC DOT can grow a pair and install the much needed traffic signal at West Main St. and Browns Hill Rd. as promised some five years ago, consider changing the traffic pattern at the intersection to right turn only when leaving BO Jangles or Taco Bell.