September 12, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 4:22 PM

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 PM


Poll: Midwest Abandons Trump, Fueling Democratic Advantage For Control Of Congress (Domenico Montanaro, 9/12/18, NPR)

The gap has widened to 12 percentage points, up from 7 in July -- and largely because of voters in the Midwest. They have swung 13 points in Democrats' direction since July. That Midwestern shift is consistent with what Marist has found in statewide polls conducted for NBC in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota that showed Trump's support there starting to erode.

"Every way we are looking at the data, the same general pattern is emerging," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. "The Midwest is an area that is getting restless about what they hoped was going to occur and what they feel is not occurring."

Trump has waged trade wars with several countries, aiming to renegotiate deals and has instituted tariffs on imports that have been met with retaliatory tariffs on exports. Many of those have taken a toll on Midwestern farmers, for example. And some automakers have come out against Trump's moves on car imports, hitting Trump with some tough headlines.

And that appears to be sticking to the GOP now.

Posted by orrinj at 3:43 PM


Trump and his flunkies: Why aren't staffers standing up to him? (BARBARA RES, SEP 12, 2018, NY Daily News)
On this particular day, the architect had come to Donald Trump's office to show him what the interior of the residential elevator cabs would look like.

Trump looked at the panels where the buttons you push to reach a floor were located. He noticed that next to each number were some little dots.

"What's this?" Trump asked.

"Braille," the architect replied.

Trump told the architect to take it off, get rid of it.

"We can't," the architect said, "It's the law."

"Get rid of the (expletive) braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower. Just do it," Trump yelled back, calling him weak.

The more the architect protested, the angrier Trump got. Donald liked to pick on this guy. As a general rule, Trump thought architects and engineers were weak as compared to construction people. And he loved to torment weak people.

But did he think the architect would remove the Braille from the panels? Never.

I had seen him do this kind of thing before and would again. He would say whatever came into his head. Ordering an underling to do something that was impossible gave Trump the opportunity to castigate a subordinate and also blame him for anything that "went wrong" in connection with the unperformed order later. A Trump-style win-win.

Trump did this with outrageous or just plain stupid ideas, both legal and illegal. Sometimes those lines were blurred.

When he asked me to do something that could not be done, I often fought back, but always at a cost. Sometimes, I just did what he asked, planning for the necessary fix or damage control later.

But many times, I played along with him and then didn't carry out his order.

So when I saw the snippets of Bob Woodward's book and the anonymous Op-Ed piece, I wasn't surprised. To an extent, Trump has always relied on people not to follow his most ridiculous orders.

Posted by orrinj at 1:53 PM


Eric Trump Says Woodward Wrote Book To 'Make 3 Extra Shekels' (Aiden Pink, 9/12/19, The Forward)

"You can write some sensational, nonsense book, CNN will definitely have you on there because they love to trash the president," Trump said. "It'll mean you sell three extra books, you make three extra shekels, at the behest of the American people, at the behest of our country, that's doing a phenomenal job by every quantifiable metric. Is that really where we are?"

Someone should have scotched that interview.

Posted by orrinj at 7:01 AM


Should Congress Enact Universal Savings Accounts? (Daniel Di Martino, SEPTEMBER 11, 2018, E21)

Republicans in Congress are aiming to revamp savings with the introduction of Universal Savings Accounts (USAs) for all Americans as part of the Family Savings Act of 2018. The bill would expand existing tax-free savings accounts such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and 529 College Savings Plans, and it would create USAs as a new type of account for all purposes with a $2,500 annual contribution limit. The chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee expects to have the bill ready for a floor vote this month. [...]

Currently, Americans can take advantage of numerous tax-exempt savings accounts such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s, 529 college savings plans, and Health Savings Accounts. Each of these accounts has complicated rules governing how much individuals can contribute, and when and for which purposes they can withdraw their savings. For instance, while traditional IRAs have no income limits but require savers to withdraw their funds periodically starting at 70 ½ years old, Roth IRAs do have income limits but do not require withdrawals.

These restrictions create a barrier to saving. A survey by the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, a large financial service provider, found that the main reasons Millennials do not contribute to an IRA, beyond not having enough money to save, are that they do not know enough about them and that they are too complex. Moreover, a recent survey found that less than 30 percent of Americans know what a 529-college savings plan is, while less than 1 in 5 knows the basic restrictions associated with Health Savings Accounts.

Excessive complexity not only reduces savings particularly among young adults, as survey data confirm, but it also results in inefficiencies. Given that there are 15 types of tax advantaged retirement plans, and many other types of tax-advantaged accounts, savers change the timing of their consumption, and the amount and allocation of their savings to minimize their tax bill. Studies have shown that the complex taxation of savings not only reduces economic growth, but it also increases tax evasion and hinders tax enforcement.

Excessive complexity not only reduces savings, it also results in inefficiencies.

By contrast, USA account holders would not be hamstrung by complex rules. Universal Savings Accounts would simplify the system since they would allow individuals to withdraw their savings at any point in time and for any reason. Simplicity may increase savings among young adults, helping them benefit from the glories of compound interest early in their lives.

Now remove the contribution limit.

Posted by orrinj at 6:59 AM


Establishment Candidates Prevail In New Hampshire Primaries (NPR, September 11, 2018)

Democrats backed by the state's political establishment rolled to victory in New Hampshire's primary Tuesday night, besting more progressive, outsider challengers in both the House and governor's races.

The most closely-watched and crowded race came in the state's open 1st congressional district, where New Hampshire Executive Councilor Chris Pappas topped the 11-way field.

The two Republican nominees are black and Mexican-American.  The two Democrats are a woman and a gay.