MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/favicon http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en It's Not a Big Mystery Why Jason Chaffetz Is Quitting Congress http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/chaffetz <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The latest from Capitol Hill:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">After saying he won't run again, may leave Congress early, Rep. <a href="https://twitter.com/jasoninthehouse">@jasoninthehouse</a> now says he's got to be OOO for surgery ASAP <a href="https://t.co/VHYUMZ8nhS">pic.twitter.com/VHYUMZ8nhS</a></p> &mdash; Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) <a href="https://twitter.com/thegarance/status/857398727522361344">April 27, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Ever since Jason Chaffetz announced he would be leaving Congress, people have been trying to figure out what's going on. Why would he do that?</p> <p>But it doesn't seem like much of a mystery to me. Chaffetz is a very ambitious guy. Like everyone else, he assumed Hillary Clinton would win the election and provide him with endless fodder for high-profile investigations from his perch as chairman of the Oversight Committee. He'd be on the front page all the time, doing CNN hits, and just generally gaining lots of name recognition for the next step in his career. President Chaffetz? It could happen!</p> <p>Then Trump won. Suddenly the Oversight Committee was all but shut down. There would be no investigations. In fact, it was even worse than that. There was a real possibility that Trump would do something so outrageous that he'd have no choice but to hold hearings. Then he'd really be in trouble. He'd be caught between loyalty to party and the need to avoid looking like a total shill. It's a lose-lose proposition.</p> <p>tl;dr version: Trump's election transformed the Oversight Committee from a platform for fame and fortune into a backwater at best and an endless tightrope with career-ending risk at worst. So Chaffetz decided to quit. In the meantime, though, he might as well get his foot fixed on the taxpayer's dime, amirite? Plus it gets him out of the line of fire even quicker. What's not to like?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:43:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 331411 at http://www.motherjones.com One Chart Shows How the Trump Tax Plan Will Totally Pay For Itself http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/one-chart-shows-how-trump-tax-plan-will-totally-pay-itself <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's the first quick-and-dirty estimate of how much Donald Trump's tax plan would cost. It comes from the <a href="http://www.crfb.org/blogs/fiscal-factcheck-how-much-will-trumps-tax-plan-cost" target="_blank">Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_crfb_trump_tax_plan_cost.gif" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>Oh please. This is a ridiculously pessimistic estimate because CRFB doesn't account for the economic growth this tax plan will unleash. They estimate that productivity would need to grow 3.8 percent per year to make Trump's plan pay for itself, something they scoff at. But that's well within reason:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_factor_productivity_1972_2027.gif" style="border: 1px solid #cccccc; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;" width="630"></p> <p>I don't see a problem with that. Do you? Yes? That's probably because you don't believe in the power of the white American worker. That's why you lefties lost the election.</p> <p>Perhaps you sense that I'm taking this less than seriously. Guilty as charged. But if Trump himself doesn't take his plans seriously, why should I?<sup>1</sup></p> <p><sup>1</sup>Also, the eagle-eyed might have noticed that although the 1-page tax plan summary we got today was very similar to Trump's campaign document, one thing was left out: it no longer claims to be revenue neutral. Funny how that works.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:53:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 331406 at http://www.motherjones.com This GIF Compares Trump's Overseas Travel With That of Previous Presidents http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/trump-foreign-travel-100-days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/prez-travel-map-630px-2.gif"></div> <p>President Donald Trump has been <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/us/politics/travel-trump-obama-bush.html" target="_blank">dubbed the "homebody" president</a>. In his first 100 days in office, he has visited his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida seven times but has rarely ventured elsewhere&mdash;and certainly not overseas. Not only has he traveled less <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/16/us/politics/homebody-comparative-listy.html" target="_blank">domestically than the past two presidents</a>, he <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/adriancarrasquillo/the-stay-at-home-potus-why-trump-still-hasnt-taken-a?utm_term=.krRJ5EZRy#.lgL13jZX7" target="_blank">hasn't left the country</a> once since becoming president, taking his "America First" approach quite literally.</p> <p>For comparison, the animation above shows all of the last four presidents visited at least one country within their first 100 days in office. President Barack Obama made an appearance in <a href="https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/travels/president/obama-barack" target="_blank">nine countries</a>, and George H.W. Bush <a href="https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/travels/president/bush-george-h-w" target="_blank">went to four</a>, according to the <a href="https://history.state.gov/about" target="_blank">Office of the Historian</a>, a government office within the State Department.</p> <p><strong>Here's where the presidents went:</strong></p> <p><a href="https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/travels/president/bush-george-h-w" target="_blank">George H.W. Bush</a></p> <ul><li>Canada</li> <li>Japan</li> <li>China</li> <li>Korea</li> </ul><p><a href="https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/travels/president/clinton-william-j" target="_blank">Bill Clinton</a></p> <ul><li>Canada</li> </ul><p><a href="https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/travels/president/bush-george-w" target="_blank">George W. Bush</a></p> <ul><li>Mexico</li> <li>Canada</li> </ul><p><a href="https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/travels/president/obama-barack" target="_blank">Barack Obama</a></p> <ul><li>Canada</li> <li>United Kingdom</li> <li>France</li> <li>Germany</li> <li>Czech Republic</li> <li>Turkey</li> <li>Iraq</li> <li>Mexico</li> <li>Trinidad and Tobago</li> </ul><p>But, the drought is soon to break. Trump is planning his first international trip as president in <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/22/trump-to-travel-to-brussels-for-nato-meeting-in-may.html" target="_blank">May for a NATO meeting in Brussels</a>. Considering he previously <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/16/politics/donald-trump-times-bild-interview-takeaways/" target="_blank">said the organization was "obsolete,"</a> <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/apr/12/donald-trump/donald-trump-nato-i-said-it-was-obsolete-its-no-lo/" target="_blank">before saying it wasn't</a>, Trump's first trip overseas will hardly be a cakewalk.</p></body></html> Politics Charts Donald Trump Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:48:28 +0000 Jaelynn Grisso 331381 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's Why Trump Is Having a Cow Over Canadian Milk http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/04/trump-blames-canada-massive-us-dairy-overproduction <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Donald Trump hasn't done much in his young presidency to delight high-powered Democratic lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). But last week, Trump <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/04/schumer_trump_agree_to_work_together_on_canadian_dairy_trade_dispute.html" target="_blank">did just that when</a> he <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEj5eL1B73o" target="_blank">picked a fight with Canada's dairy farmers</a>, after receiving a <a href="http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/eye-on-ny-senators-urge-trump-to-address-canada-s/article_2eaff97b-da42-5bbc-a448-26fa0a91b35c.html" target="_blank">letter</a> urging him to do so from Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).</p> <p>Trump's beef with Canadian dairy played well with Republicans, too. At a speech in dairy-heavy Wisconsin last week (video <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEj5eL1B73o" target="_blank">here</a>), Trump fulminated against our northern neighbor's milk policy and vowed to organize what sounds like a dramatically awkward group phone call involving the state's most prominent politicians: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). "We're going to get together and we're going to call Canada, and we're going to say, 'What happened?'" he thundered. "And they might give us an answer, but we're going to get the solution, not just the answer, okay?"</p> <p>Okay!</p> <p>If you're wondering what the hell Trump is babbling about&mdash;and why Canadian milk generates such strange, and angry, bedfellows south of its border&mdash;here's a primer.</p> <p><strong>&bull; US dairy producers are churning out way too much milk, and they have been for a while. "</strong>Farmers in the U.S. are pouring out tens of millions of gallons of excess milk, amid a massive glut that has slashed prices and has filled warehouses with cheese," the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/americas-dairy-farmers-dump-43-million-gallons-of-excess-milk-1476284353" target="_blank">reported</a> last October. In the first eight months of 2016, the paper added, US dairy farmers dumped out 66 Olympic swimming pools worth of milk, the "most wasted in at least 16 years." In 2015, too, there was "so much milk flowing out of US cows&hellip;that some is ending up in dirt pits because dairies can't find buyers," Bloomberg <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-01/milk-spilled-into-manure-pits-as-supplies-overwhelm-u-s-dairies" target="_blank">reported</a> at the time.</p> <p>The backstory: Goaded by rising demand for dairy products from Asia and low prices for feed, US farmers scaled up in 2014, <a href="http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/MilkProd/MilkProd-04-20-2017.pdf" target="_blank">increasing their herds and squeezing out more milk per cow</a>. Trouble is, farmers in other big milk-producing regions like New Zealand made the same bet, and now there's a <a href="http://buffalonews.com/2017/04/24/local-dairy-farmers-canadian-trade-shut-off-final-straw/" target="_blank">global milk glut</a>. The practice of dumping surplus milk has continued into this spring, the US Department of Agriculture <a href="http://www.fmmone.com/Misc_Docs/March_2017_Temporary_Dumping_Request.pdf" target="_blank">recently reported</a>.</p> <p>US agriculture programs give dairy farmers incentive to produce as much as possible, embroiling them in boom-and-bust cycles like the current one, driving small farms out of business and forcing survivors to scale up. As recently as 1950, around 3.5 million US farms kept dairy cows; by 2012, that number had <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/01/11/509135189/as-big-milk-moves-in-family-owned-u-s-dairy-farms-rapidly-fold" target="_blank">dwindled to 58,000</a>, even as overall production surged. The shakeout continues. "In 2010, Vermont had more than 1,000 dairy farms, but by the end of last year there were just over than 800," NPR recently <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/01/11/509135189/as-big-milk-moves-in-family-owned-u-s-dairy-farms-rapidly-fold" target="_blank">reported</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the massive overproduction persists amid heroic, government-led efforts to prod Americans to consume more dairy. As Josh Harkinson <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/10/dairy-industry-milk-federal-dietary-guidelines" target="_blank">reported</a> in 2015, USDA dietary guidelines urge <a href="https://www.choosemyplate.gov/dairy" target="_blank">everyone nine years old or older to drink three cups of milk per day</a>, a recommendation that owes much more to industry lobbying than it does to sound nutrition science. Then there's Dairy Management, a group <a href="http://www.dairy.org/about-dmi" target="_blank">overseen by the USDA</a> that <a href="https://www.dairy.org/for-farmers/partners" target="_blank">works with "influential and globally recognized companies such as McDonald's, Domino's, Quaker, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut"</a> to work more dairy into fast food. Oy.</p> <p><strong>&bull; Canada's dairy farmers are largely insulated from these cycles.</strong> That's because, in sharp contrast to the US government, Canada's dairy policy is based on production quotas that prevent farmers from either under- or overproducing. The program <a href="https://albertamilk.com/our-industry/supply-management/" target="_blank">guarantees</a> farmers get a price that covers their production costs, and <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/a-guide-to-understanding-the-dairy-dispute-between-the-us-andcanada/article34802291/" target="_blank">slaps a high tariff on dairy imports</a>, protecting them from foreign competition. Canadian consumers tend to pay more for milk than their peers, but not prohibitively so. Overall, Canadians devote just <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/this-map-shows-how-much-each-country-spends-on-food/" target="_blank">9.7 percent of their overall expenditures to groceries, one of the lowest rates in the world</a>. (US consumers have the lowest rate of all: 6.4 percent.)</p> <p>Canada's dairy program, known as "supply management," might sound crazy to US ears, but it has advantages. In an <a href="http://www.gastronomica.org/tale-two-dairies/" target="_blank">excellent 2010 <em>Gastronomica</em> article</a>, Barry Estabrook noted that, while decades of booms and busts had hollowed out dairy farming in New England and upstate New York, small and mid-sized dairy farms just over the border in Ontario&mdash;farming the "same gently rolling tapestry of field and forest"&mdash;are thriving.</p> <p><strong>&bull; But there's a hole in Canada's dairy-tariff wall. </strong>So-called ultra-filtered milk&mdash;made with a process that concentrates milk proteins, separating out the fat&mdash;is a relatively new invention, designed to make dairy products that are highly concentrated and shelf-stable, and thus easy to export. Because of a loophole in trade law, Canada's dairy tariffs don't apply to it, and so the US dairy industry has been exporting&nbsp;ultra-filtered milk into Canada for years, where it competes with less processed domestic skim milk in cheese making. Major production plants have "been built in recent years along the Canada-US border in states like New York and Wisconsin to service Canadian demand," <a href="https://ipolitics.ca/2017/04/22/dairy-101-the-canada-u-s-milk-spat-explained/" target="_blank">reports</a> the Canadian news site <em>iPolitics.com; </em>and it has <a href="http://buffalonews.com/2017/04/24/local-dairy-farmers-canadian-trade-shut-off-final-straw/" target="_blank">grown into a $150 million market for US producers</a><em>. </em></p> <p><strong>&bull; Canada just slammed shut that loophole&mdash;enraging the US industry and capturing Trump's attention. </strong>In a policy change announced in February and put into effect recently, Canada dropped the price for processed dairy products, essentially pricing US ultra-filtered milk out of its market. Two US dairy companies geared to the Canadian market&mdash;one in <a href="http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/delicate-dairy-dispute-with-canada-threatens-wisconsin-farmers/article_73a64bcb-47e6-50b4-ae88-4bb509d4bd73.html" target="_blank">Wisconsin</a>, one in <a href="http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/ceo-cayuga-milk-ingredients-lost-m-in-sales-overnight-due/article_f85b4c52-2563-11e7-907c-0724c5c124aa.html" target="_blank">New York</a>&mdash;immediately complained of lost sales; the Wisconsin one, Grassland Dairy products, delivered <a href="http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/delicate-dairy-dispute-with-canada-threatens-wisconsin-farmers/article_73a64bcb-47e6-50b4-ae88-4bb509d4bd73.html" target="_blank">bad news</a> to 75 farms: It would no longer buy their milk. The development inflamed politicians in Democratic Party-dominated New York and and GOP-heavy Wisconsin, and eventually in the White House.</p> <p><strong>&bull; But the US dairy industry has been itching for years to break down Canada's tariff wall and undercut its dairy program&mdash;as have Democratic politicians. </strong>Under Barack Obama, US negotiators pushed hard to fully<a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadian-dairy-stalling-trans-pacific-partnership-deal-sources/article25793025/" target="_blank"> pry open the Canadian market to US dairy under the Trans-Pacific Partnership,</a> the trade deal championed by Obama and ultimately killed by Trump. And Tom Vilsack, who served as Obama's secretary of agriculture for the entire eight-year term, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/obamas-usda-chief-mulls-move-big-dairy" target="_blank">now leads the US Dairy Export Council</a>, a Big Dairy group that for years has pushed against Canada's program. Vilsack recently <a href="http://www.idfa.org/docs/default-source/d-news/letter-to-president-trump-re-canada-dairy-041317.pdf" target="_blank">signed a letter to Trump</a> demanding "immediate action" against Canada for icing out US ultra-filtered milk.</p> <p><strong>&bull; Canada aside, though, US dairy farmers clearly can't export their way out of the dairy glut. </strong>As Chris Holman, a Wisconsin farmer who is active in the Wisconsin Farmers Union, noted in a recent <a href="http://www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com/single-post/2017/04/19/Milking-Scapegoats" target="_blank">blog post</a>, the underlying problem is a "vicious cycle" that leads to oversupply: "When markets are up, farms often expand and production increases to take advantage of better prices. When the milk supply goes up and markets are down, farms often expand and production increases as they try to keep their heads above water." Holman recently told me that "if every dairy farm in Wisconsin culled one cow out of production, it would more than make up for the milk lost to Canada, and everyone can keep farming."</p> <p>But organizing such a move would essentially require supply management&mdash;something anathema to big US dairy processors, which enjoy all the cheap milk encouraged by a lack of production controls. Ferd Hoefner, former policy director and current senior strategic adviser for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, told me that the 2014 farm bill included a supply management program for dairy, but it was struck down at the last minute.</p> <p><strong>&bull; Wisconsin is a dairy-heavy state&mdash;and one that <a href="http://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president/wisconsin/" target="_blank">Trump barely won</a>. </strong>And also the home of Ryan, with whom Trump needs to be friendly if he is going to get anything done in Congress. Moreover, his anti-trade tirades have not been popular with US Big Ag interests, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/trump-burns-his-big-ag-supporters-trade" target="_blank">which rely heavily on exports.</a> Applying his fierce trade rhetoric to pry open Canada's domestic dairy market may be a way for him to appease those interests.</p> <p>Meanwhile, this week, Trump added more fuel to his trade war with Canada, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-trump-canadian-lumber-20170425-story.html" target="_blank">imposing hefty duties on lumber imports from there</a>. As the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-trump-canadian-lumber-20170425-story.html" target="_blank">noted</a>, "Dairy and lumber are sensitive industries in the heartland and rural parts of America, and any moves to strengthen those domestic constituents could help the administration garner congressional support for its broader trade policy objectives." And picking on Canada is less risky than picking on his usual targets, China and Mexico. "It's not like Canada is going to open up the border and let a whole bunch of Central Americans into the United States. So Canada is a pretty safe target," Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, <a href="http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/04/25/canada-becomes-a-prime-target-in-trumps-trade-offense-000427" target="_blank">told</a> <em>Politico</em>.</p></body></html> Environment Food Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:36:40 +0000 Tom Philpott 331321 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump Administration Launches Office Focused on Crimes by Immigrants http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/trump-homeland-security-launches-voice-office-victims-immigrant-crime <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Trump administration <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/us/politics/trump-voice-immigrants-crime.html" target="_blank">officially launched</a> an office on Wednesday dedicated to the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants&mdash;an effort that immigrant advocates say does not align with actual crime data and appears designed to demonize immigrants.</p> <p>The Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office, which will provide aid to people affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. According to DHS and officials with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement&mdash;which will house the office&mdash;this assistance will include a hotline to answer questions about the immigration enforcement process and a notification system to provide updates to registered victims about the custody status of immigrant perpetrators.</p> <p>The services provide by VOICE are not new: Most are already offered by ICE's community engagement office, and the office draws upon personnel and resources that the agency already has. But administration officials have shifted the tone of the conversation by focusing on victims of crimes committed by immigrants.</p> <p>"All crime is terrible, but these victims are unique&mdash;and too often ignored," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said during the Wednesday launch event in Washington. "They are casualties of crimes that should never have taken place, because the people who victimized them oftentimes should not have been in the country in the first place."</p> <p>In reports and statements leading up to the launch, VOICE has been described as focusing exclusively on people affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. But DHS officials on Wednesday said that the office would provide services to victims of "crimes with an immigration nexus," suggesting that the scope of the agency could expand beyond the undocumented. DHS officials told reporters that VOICE will focus on crimes committed by anyone who could potentially face deportation, a grouping that could include immigrants with legal status.</p> <p>The office has been in the works for several months and was developed with input from victims and their families, many of whom attended the launch event. It was first mentioned in the president's <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/presidential-executive-order-enhancing-public-safety-interior-united" target="_blank">January executive orde</a>r addressing illegal immigration, and its purpose was further clarified in a <a href="https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/17_0220_S1_Enforcement-of-the-Immigration-Laws-to-Serve-the-National-Interest.pdf" target="_blank">memo</a> published by Kelly in February. President Donald Trump <a href="https://qz.com/921712/trump-speech-to-congress-a-new-government-office-called-voice-will-support-us-victims-of-crimes-perpetrated-by-immigrants/" target="_blank">first spoke publicly about it in his February address</a> to Congress, when he said, "We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests."</p> <p>The launch drew immediate criticism from immigration advocates. "The goal of this program is to instill fear of non-white immigrants," the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said <a href="http://ndlon.org/en/pressroom/press-releases/item/1269-ndlon-responds-to-dhs-creation-of-voice" target="_blank">in a statement</a>. "It is another deliberate step taken by the Trump administration towards creating institutions that legitimize racist propaganda. That's what this is about, instilling fear in order to subject people to double suspicion, double punishment, and deprivation of due process." Others have argued that while the administration focuses on crimes committed by immigrants, it has pulled back from assisting immigrant crime victims, leaving many immigrants <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/03/ice-dhs-immigration-domestic-violence-protections" target="_blank">fearful of reporting crimes to police</a>.</p> <p>"I think it is absurd to highlight the crimes committed by a small group of people without reporting on the crimes committed by everybody," Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said in an interview before the Wednesday launch. With the establishment of VOICE, he added, the administration appears to be "trying to show how dangerous a group of people is when they have no statistical evidence towards that claim." Crime data <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/us/trump-illegal-immigrants-crime.html?_r=0" target="_blank">suggests</a> that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.</p> <p>At Wednesday's event, DHS officials argued that VOICE is not about demonizing immigrants, but instead will focus on assisting victims and families who are confused about how immigration enforcement works. "The immigration system is so complicated, there wasn't anyone there to tell [victims] what has been happening on the immigration side," said DHS spokesman David Lapan. "This office can help victims' families understand the immigration elements of the crimes committed."</p> <p>But that mission has been complicated by the president's rhetoric on immigration and the undocumented. Trump has frequently highlighted the immigration records of violent offenders. One of his central campaign promises was to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, and he has pledged to ramp up deportations.</p> <p>Launching just days before Trump's 100th day in office, VOICE comes at a difficult moment for the administration. On Tuesday, a federal judge <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/federal-judge-halts-trumps-executive-order-sanctuary-cities" target="_blank">blocked</a> part of the president's order that would have withheld funding from so-called sanctuary cities, which refuse to comply with Trump's call to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:32:48 +0000 P.R. Lockhart 331371 at http://www.motherjones.com Lunchtime Photo http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/lunchtime-photo-13 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Look! A squirrel!</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lunchtime_squirrel_large.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;" width="630"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:30:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 331206 at http://www.motherjones.com It's Embarrassing To Be an American These Days http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/its-embarrassing-be-american-these-days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I want to repeat something from the previous post because it deserves a post all its own. This is Donald Trump's "tax plan":</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The promised Trump tax plan, as distributed to press moments ago: <a href="https://t.co/WVWhpPAZp0">pic.twitter.com/WVWhpPAZp0</a></p> &mdash; Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) <a href="https://twitter.com/MatthewNussbaum/status/857290028250263552">April 26, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Trump has embarrassed us in so many ways that I guess this is small beer, but FFS. This is the United States of America, the biggest, richest country on the planet. The leader of the free world. And this is what we get from our president these days. He wants to cut taxes by $4 trillion or more&mdash;$4 trillion!&mdash;and he can't be bothered to produce more than a single page of bullet points about it. No details. No legislation. No analysis from the OMB. Nothing. Just a comic book version of a tax overhaul.</p> <p>The contempt and incompetence this displays is breathtaking.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:04:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 331376 at http://www.motherjones.com How Ann Coulter and the Far Right Are Using the Lefty Playbook to Troll Berkeley http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/ann-coulter-alt-right-berkeley-saul-alinsky-left-tactics-rules-for-radicals <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Saul Alinksy's <em><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rules_for_Radicals" target="_blank">Rules for Radicals</a></em>, published in 1971 at the height of the counterculture movement, has long been required reading for community organizers on the left. It inspired activists with the labor movement, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter. A young Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis on Alinsky and fawningly corresponded with him. But recently Alinsky has drawn a less likely group of devotees: the white nationalists and other bigots who make up <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/11/trump-white-nationalists-hate-racism-power" target="_blank">the so-called alt-right.</a></p> <p>After the white nationalist figure Nathan Damigo was filmed <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/far-right-white-supremacists-berkeley-protests-antifa-trump">punching a female counterprotester</a> at a provocative "free speech" rally this month in Berkeley, California, fueling a backlash online, his fans on the fringe message board 4chan/pol/ turned to Alinsky's playbook. "Alinsky's Rules for Radicals is like Antifa's Quran," one 4channer wrote. "They follow his rules explicitly and inflexibly. Why not turn them back against them?" Everyone agreed that at the next scuffle they should spray female counterprotesters with silly string&mdash;an idea inspired by Alinsky's <a href="https://archive.org/stream/RulesForRadicals/RulesForRadicals_djvu.txt">Rule 5</a>: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."</p> <p>"The Left is getting massively out-Alinskyed, and the hilarious thing is that this band of withered hippies, unemployable millennial safe-space cases, and unlovable + unshaven libfeminists don't even know it,"&nbsp;<a href="https://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2017/02/13/shoving-alinskys-rules-for-radicals-right-back-in-the-lefts-ugly-face-n2284892">wrote</a> right-wing columnist Kurt Schlichter recently in <em>TownHall</em>. "Thank you, Andrew Breitbart. You yelled 'Follow me!' and led a movement that had previously been dominated by doofy wonks and bow-tied geeks over the top in a glorious bayonet charge against the paper tiger liberal elite."</p> <p>Begrudging respect for Alinsky and the leftist protest tactics he inspired is nothing new on the right; <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/freedomworks-rich-donors-armey-kibbe-super-pac" target="_blank">FreedomWorks</a>, the Koch-funded political organization, reportedly <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2009/09/conservatives-use-liberal-playbook-027285">handed out</a> <em>Rules for Radicals</em> to tea party activists. But the alt-right appears to have really taken Alinsky's strategic thinking to heart&mdash;or at least when they are not just straight-up hyping their next opportunity to beat the hell out of some <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/anti-racist-antifa-tinley-park-five" target="_blank">antifa</a>.</p> <p>"A lot of the strategy of this site is based on it," Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the neo-Nazi <em>Daily Stormer</em>, <a href="https://www.dailystormer.com/the-truth-about-saul-alinskys-rules-for-radicals/">wrote</a> in September, urging his followers to read the book. In November, another neo-Nazi site, <em>The Right Stuff</em>, <a href="http://therightstuff.biz/2016/11/28/saul-alinskys-rules-for-radicals/">published</a> a detailed analysis of Alinsky's rules, concluding that "the Alt-Right is already in something of an unholy alliance with (((Alinsky)))." (The "<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/donald-trump-hate-groups-neo-nazi-white-supremacist-racism" target="_blank">echo</a>" parenthesis are used by white supremacists to single out Jews.)</p> <p>Far-right provocateur <a href="http://bedfordandbowery.com/2016/07/gavin-mcinnes-and-his-proud-boys-want-to-make-white-men-great-again/">Gavin McInnes</a>, whose "Western chauvinist" Proud Boys were among those who waged bloody fights with antifa in Berkeley, described Alinsky to me as "an immoral human being"&mdash;but nevertheless professed to be a student of his writings. "This isn't us taking on a brilliant book because we admire the guy," he told me. "It's us seeing what your tactics are and using them against you."</p> <p>Nowhere has that strategy more clearly been on display than in Berkeley, where supporters of Trump-boosting media provocateurs Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter have gleefully taken their cue from the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s. Although the University of California-Berkeley canceled each of their planned speeches over mounting security concerns&mdash;exacerbated by the mayhem around Yiannopoulos' scheduled appearance in March&mdash;officials worked to reschedule Coulter's speech. <a href="https://twitter.com/AnnCoulter/status/855210412194750464" target="_blank">She declined</a>.<strong> </strong>On Monday, conservative student groups <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/04/24/lawsuit-filed-against-uc-berkeley-for-canceling-ann-coulter-speech/?utm_term=.40179728fdb1">filed suit</a> against the university, arguing that canceling Coulter's talk violated their free-speech rights. Then Coulter <a href="https://twitter.com/AnnCoulter/status/855209189328551936?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fpost-nation%2Fwp%2F2017%2F04%2F21%2Fann-coulter-rejects-berkeleys-new-invite-gop-students-threaten-to-sue-college%2F" target="_blank">vowed to show up anyway</a>. Then she vowed not to come&mdash;on Wednesday the <em>New York Times </em><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/us/ann-coulter-berkeley-speech.html?_r=1" target="_blank">reported</a> she was out. "Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away," Coulter declared<em>. </em>(Alinsky's Rule 4: "Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.") Then <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/04/26/ann-coulter-cancels-berkeley-event-amid-protests.html" target="_blank">she told Fox News</a> that she might still come: "I think I am still going to Berkeley, but there will be no speech."</p> <p>Though most of Alinsky's devotees on the left eschew violence and laud, as he did, the passive resistance techniques of Mahatma Gandhi and the civil rights movement, his writings are not necessarily inconsistent with the alt-right's and antifa's embrace of street battles. "[T]he future does not argue for making a special religion of nonviolence," he wrote. "It will be remembered for what it was, the best tactic for its time and place."</p> <p>The alt-right's repeated physical clashes with counterprotesters in Berkeley and elsewhere represent an evolution in tactics for what had been <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/03/silicon-valley-tech-alt-right" target="_blank">mostly an online movement</a>. They also dovetail with the alt-right's penchant for generating viral memes: An image of Kyle Chapman (a.k.a. Based Stick Man) pummeling an antifa counterprotester in Berkeley made him an alt-right celebrity and led to the birth of his own anti-antifa Proud Boys militia group, the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights. (Chapman <a href="http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/04/17/berkeley-police-release-names-of-people-arrested-at-trump-protests/" target="_blank">was arrested</a> in Berkeley in mid April on an outstanding warrant for battery.) Thanks to additional publicity whipped up by Coulter, discussion and planning for the next Berkeley showdown has consumed 4chan since last week, with more than 100 recent posts dedicated to the subject, including talk of busing people in from around the country. No one seems deterred by Coulter's waffling. "Folks are still going to Berkeley as a protest against the Domestic Terrorist Organization known as BAMN," began one 4chan thread on Wednesday. "Spread the word. This changes nothing."</p> <p>"She's apparently still going," said another 4channer, "so we're still on to bash some Antifa."</p> <p>"Regardless of Ann Couture's (sic) decision," <a href="https://www.facebook.com/kyle.chapman.543792" target="_blank">Chapman wrote</a> on Facebook, "we will have our rally. We will go back to MLK Civic Center Park and stand against these demons."</p> <p>"The whole idea of having Trump/free speech rallies in Berkeley is the historic nature of it," a 4channer wrote earlier this month. "In 1968 the free speech movement happened in Berkeley to support communism. Now it is happening again in 2017 to support anti-communism, in hostile territory. It's a battle on the front lines and the lefties help us make fun memes for the ages." (Alinsky's Rule 6: "A good tactic is one your people enjoy.")</p> <p>Activists on the right have much less experience than leftists with turning street protests into media tools. The civil rights, anti-war, and Occupy movements rose to prominence with the spread of photographs and videos documenting police brutality against protesters, from the use of fire hoses in Birmingham, Alabama, to pepper spray by a police officer at the University of California-Davis. The viral video of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer getting punched is a relatively rare example of the radical left celebrating violence. Yet for the meme-makers of the far right, humiliating their rivals by presenting their street brawlers as physically dominant is the preferred theme: "We're just braver, and that makes for better jokes," says McInnes. "The left are the new Church ladies. They've been sheltered in their own bubble for so long, they don't know fun."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Damigo-image.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>An alt-right meme based on the Damigo punching video</strong></div> </div> <p>Few people on the far-right have done more to turn the ideas of the left against it than Yiannopoulos, who enjoyed a rising career of co-opting "identity politics" in the interest of white males, before <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/02/milo-yiannopoulos-having-very-bad-day" target="_blank">a pedophilia scandal </a>knocked him from his perch. On Friday, he doubled down on the strategy of appropriating leftist concepts, announcing that he will host a "free speech week" this year that may include "a tent city on [UC-Berkeley's] Sproul Plaza." The idea repurposes an approach last seen on a large scale in 2011 at UC Berkeley and other university campuses in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street&mdash;but this time, in service of the right to say nasty things about women, people of color, and Muslims.</p> <p>Which points directly to another Alinskyism that the alt-right is now testing: "If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive." As one proponent of the idea explained on the neo-Nazi site <em>The Right Stuff</em>: "We want to get to the point where being labeled by the establishment as a racist, sexist, or antisemite (sic) is a sign of having done something correct."</p></body></html> Politics Civil Liberties Donald Trump Race and Ethnicity The Right Top Stories alt-right berkeley Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:00:34 +0000 Josh Harkinson 331356 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump Tax Plan Unveiled! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/trump-tax-plan-unveiled <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last night I wrote that the Trump tax plan would be little more a than a rewrite of his campaign document. I was wrong. Here it is:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The promised Trump tax plan, as distributed to press moments ago: <a href="https://t.co/WVWhpPAZp0">pic.twitter.com/WVWhpPAZp0</a></p> &mdash; Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) <a href="https://twitter.com/MatthewNussbaum/status/857290028250263552">April 26, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>It's not worth the 60 seconds it would take to check this, but I'm pretty sure this is <em>less</em> detailed than Trump's campaign document. What a fucking embarrassment. It's like something a high school class would put together. Even with only five days to work with, you'd think the Treasury Department of the United States of America could produce a little more than this.</p> <p>But let's go through the whole thing. There's a little more than you see in the tweet above:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Three tax brackets</strong> instead of seven. However, there's no telling how this affects taxes until Steve Mnuchin tells us where the cutoff points are.</p> <p><strong>Doubles the personal exemption</strong> from $12,000 to $24,000. This will help middle-class families, but it's a little hard to know how much it will help them until we get details on....</p> <p><strong>Elimination of itemized deductions.</strong> Which ones? All of them? Good luck with that. But you can be sure that one of the targets will be the deduction for state income taxes, since that mostly benefits the hated blue states of California and New York.</p> <p><strong>Elimination of the estate tax.</strong> A huge boon for the super-duper rich.</p> <p><strong>Elimination of the AMT.</strong> A huge boon for the rich.</p> <p><strong>Elimination of Obamacare's 3.8 percent tax on investment.</strong> A huge boon for the rich.</p> <p><strong>Reduce business tax rate to 15 percent.</strong> A huge boon for corporations and the rich, especially those with income from pass-through businesses. Apparently Mnuchin doesn't care that Senate rules make this almost <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/04/25/donald_trump_s_corporate_tax_cuts_can_t_pass_congress.html" target="_blank">literally unpassable.</a></p> <p><strong>Tax repatriation holiday.</strong> A huge boon for corporations and the rich.</p> <p><strong>Territorial taxation system for corporations.</strong> There's no telling what effect this would have. There are good territorial systems and bad ones. It's all in the details&mdash;though it's a pretty good guess that Trump will opt for one of the bad ones.</p> </blockquote> <p>The driving force behind this appears to be Trump's desire to call this the biggest tax cut in American history. The previous champ was Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut, which cost 3.9 percent of GDP. That means Trump is gunning for 4 percent of GDP.</p> <p>The Congressional Budget Office pegs GDP over the next ten years at <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/52370-budeconoutlook.pdf" target="_blank">$239 trillion.</a> To get to 4 percent, Trump's tax plan will need to cut taxes by $9.5 trillion. This is obviously ridiculous. Maybe Trump isn't accounting for inflation or something. That would get him down to $4.3 trillion.</p> <p>Really, who knows? I suppose Trump will call it the biggest tax cut in history regardless of how big it is. He doesn't care. The one thing we can be sure of is that the rich will swoon. At a guess, something like 90 percent of that $9.5 (or $4.3 or whatever) trillion will go to the top 10 percent. The rest of us get a few crumbs.</p> <p>Of course, this whole thing is DOA in Congress anyway, which will pretty much ignore Trump and create its own tax plan for the rich. This one-page "plan" is really just a publicity stunt so Trump can say he introduced it during his first hundred days. What a doofus.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:47:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 331366 at http://www.motherjones.com 4 Ways Trump's Tax Plan Will Make the Trumps Even Richer http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/trumps-tax-plan-will-make-trump-richer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Donald Trump revealed an outline of his big tax reform plan on Wednesday. It's light on specifics and even lighter on details about how the administration might pay for what it describes as the "<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/26/news/economy/trump-tax-plan/" target="_blank">biggest tax cut</a>" in US history. But one thing is perfectly clear: Trump and his family could save billions of dollars. Here are four ways Trump's tax proposals would help people named Trump.</p> <h3 class="subhed"><strong>1. Eliminating the Estate Tax</strong></h3> <p>The estate tax, which applies to wealth that deceased people pass on to their heirs, only affects the richest of the richest&mdash;roughly <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/ten-facts-you-should-know-about-the-federal-estate-tax" target="_blank">0.2 percent</a> of Americans. Individuals worth at least $5.45 million (or married couples worth at least $10.9 million) will owe estate taxes after their deaths. Currently, assets in excess of this $5.45 million exemption are taxed at 40 percent. President Donald Trump claims to be <a href="https://time.com/money/4426089/donald-trump-net-worth/" target="_blank">worth $10 billion</a>, so his heirs could save billions if the estate tax disappears.</p> <h3 class="subhed"><strong>2. Eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax</strong></h3> <p>The alternative minimum tax <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-amt" target="_blank">requires certain taxpayers</a> to calculate how much tax they owe twice&mdash;once using the regular income tax rules and again under AMT rules. Originally, the AMT was structured to prevent wealthy people from abusing the system by avoiding paying their fair share of taxes. We don't know much about Trump's taxes, but his <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/business/economy/trump-alternative-minimum-tax.html?_r=0" target="_blank">2005 returns</a>, which were obtained by MSNBC, indicate the he earned $153 million that year. Without the AMT, Trump apparently would have paid <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/14/us/politics/donald-trump-taxes.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">just $7 million in taxes</a>, according to the <em>New York Times</em>&mdash;a tax rate less than 5 percent. But the AMT forced him to pony up an additional $31 million that year, raising his tax rate to about 25 percent. Asked at a Wednesday press briefing how eliminating the AMT would impact Trump's tax liability, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin dodged the question and abruptly ended the briefing.</p> <h3 class="subhed"><strong>3. Slashing Tax Rates for Pass-Through Corporations</strong></h3> <p>Many businesses are structured as pass-through companies, meaning that rather than filing taxes as corporations, they "pay taxes through the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/us/politics/tax-plan-trump.html" target="_blank">personal income tax code</a>," as the <em>Times </em>explains. Trump wants to cut the rate for pass-throughs (as well as for corporations) to just 15 percent, which will certainly enrich anyone named Trump. Since the Trump Organization is a <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-planning-to-seek-tax-rate-of-15-on-pass-through-companies-1493145858" target="_blank">collection of pass-throughs</a>, the organization itself isn't subject to income tax. Instead, the owners are taxed individually. So Trump and his children would only have to pay 15 percent on their earnings from the family organization in taxes, much lower than the current top rate of 39.6 percent.</p> <h3 class="subhed"><strong>4. Lowering the Individual Income Tax Rate</strong></h3> <p>Trump wants to eliminate several tax brackets and lower the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. Under the new plan, there will be three tax brackets: 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. That could be a huge giveaway to the Trumps and other wealthy Americans who make millions of dollars each year.</p></body></html> Politics Corporations Donald Trump Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:07:15 +0000 Nathalie Baptiste 331331 at http://www.motherjones.com