The bonfire of insanity!
August 16, 2022
Before turning to the bonfire of insanity enveloping Mar-a-Lago, let’s spend a few minutes recognizing the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that will improve the lives of millions of Americans.
First, for Medicare enrollees, the IRA caps “out-of-pocket” drug costs at $2,000 per year, it creates an average cost reduction per enrollee of $800 per year by allowing the government to negotiate prices for 100 drugs, and sets a cap of $35 per month for insulin supplies. (Senate Republicans defeated a provision that would have extended the $35 monthly cap on insulin to all Americans.) See Forbes, Five Truths About How The Inflation Reduction Act Will Help Small Business And Working Families. If that is all the IRA accomplished, it would be a major achievement. But embedded in its success is the hope that the healthcare provisions for Medicare enrollees will be extended to all Americans.
Second, the IRA doubles tax credits for small businesses engaged in research and development, thereby incentivizing innovation.
Third, the bill creates US jobs by specifying that tax credits for electric vehicles apply only to autos assembled in the United States. See The Hill, Setting the record straight on the Inflation Reduction Act.
Fourth, the influx of new IRS agents has been ordered “not to increase audits of households making less than $400,000 per year”—ensuring that middle-class wage earners will not be affected by the enhanced revenue collection efforts of the IRS. Indeed, a substantial portion of the new IRS agents will simply replace 50,000 IRS agents lost through attrition and cuts over the last decade.
Finally, the IRA will pay for these improvements by imposing a minimum 15% tax on corporations generating more than $1 billion per year. That provision aligns the US with 136 other countries that have adopted a similar minimum corporate tax—an effort designed to stop multi-national corporations from evading taxes by playing a high-stakes, real-life game of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” For example, Microsoft may be headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA, but reports much of its revenue in Ireland. A Microsoft subsidiary in Ireland reported $350 billion in profit (75% of Ireland’s Gross Domestic Product) even though that subsidiary has zero employees in Ireland. That makes perfect sense because . . . well, it doesn’t unless you are trying to evade taxes in the US. The IRA will go a long way to thwarting tax evasion by US companies—all to the benefit of the US taxpayer!
The GOP is attacking the IRA as a “tax and spend bill,” but the taxes are on multinational corporations and the spending is on seniors and US workers who will benefit from clean energy investments. Tell a friend!
Trump’s improper removal and handling of defense secrets.
The DOJ is opposing efforts to unseal the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. The DOJ’s opposition says that the affidavit will reveal details of “an ongoing criminal investigation” that “implicates highly classified materials.” The opposition goes on to state that disclosure of information would “chill” cooperation of witnesses currently assisting in the investigation. See CNN, DOJ opposes making public details in Mar-a-Lago search warrant's probable cause affidavit.
Let’ stop to pause on the DOJ’s statements—because they are significant. The DOJ’s opposition makes clear that the search of Mar-a-Lago was not merely an effort to recover documents improperly removed from the White House, but was part of an ongoing criminal investigation. That investigation must relate to Trump’s conduct (in part) because Trump was the person who received the documents in the first instance.
Second, the DOJ characterizes the documents seized during the search as “highly classified material”—a characterization not previously released by the DOJ.
Finally, the DOJ acknowledges that it has cooperating witnesses whose cooperation may cease if their identities are revealed. One implication of that statement is that the cooperating witnesses are within Trump’s orbit at Mar-a-Lago. If true, it may explain why the DOJ believed that a search warrant was necessary.
In an odd aside today, Trump claimed on Truth Social that the FBI seized three of his passports—a claim that makes sense because the FBI was authorized to search Trump’s safe at Mar-a-Lago—a likely place where passports would be stored. But later in the day, reports emerged that the passports had been returned to Trump. See Kelly O'Donnell on Twitter. Unless and until the report that Trump’s passports have been returned is confirmed, it is an ominous sign that the FBI seized Trump’s passports. Such a measure usually indicates that the government believes a target of an investigation or defendant is a flight risk.
Finally, the threats against the FBI and DOJ are escalating, resulting in the arrest of one man who issued explicit death threats against FBI agents on the extremist social media site “Gab.” See Talking Points Memo, Man Charged For FBI Death Threats After Gab Meltdown Over Trump Raid. The right wing of the GOP appears to be having second thoughts about its vilification of the men and women of the FBI and DOJ. See The Hill, Spike in FBI threats unsettles the right. Let’s hope that it is not too late for the GOP to repair the damage inflicted by their initial intemperate and inflammatory remarks. (Looking at you, Marco Rubio.)
That’s it for this edition! Having an anniversary dinner with my bride of 41 years tonight! Back on regular schedule tomorrow evening!
Talk to you tomorrow!