Loss for the home team
President Donald Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill are a step closer to winning passage of a sweeping tax overhaul plan. Which puts New Yorkers a step closer to losing the state and local tax deduction that helps many of them, especially homeowners, reduce their federal tax bills.
A budget blueprint moving the tax plan forward passed the House on a 216-to-212 vote Thursday. Joining Democrats to vote no were 20 Republicans, including Long Island’s Peter King and Lee Zeldin, along with others from high-taxed states.
Given the close vote, King held out hope that the GOP naysayers will be needed to pass the plan further down the road and a deal could result. “We can stop it if they believe they won’t get the 218 votes,” King told Newsday’s Tom Brune.
King said Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) promised to offer a compromise on SALT before unveiling the overall tax plan next week.
Trump officials so far have spoken in favor of eliminating SALT as unfair to states that keep their taxes low. Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) counters that New Yorkers “give a lot more money to the federal government than we get back.”
Answers to opioid addiction
Does Trump’s opioid “emergency” carry enough urgency?
Trump declared the plague of opioid addiction a public health emergency Thursday, which will expand access to medical services, but won’t bring any more federal dollars to fight addiction. That would require declaration of a “national emergency.”
What is included? A promise to waive regulations to expand access at certain treatment centers and give states more flexibility on how to use federal block grants. In a throwback to the “Just say no” 1980s, Trump said “really great advertising” would dissuade young people from using alcohol or drugs.
But don’t expect fast results: “It may take years and even decades.”
The president got personal (video here) on how he learned the lesson of the ravages of substance abuse from his big brother Fred’s alcoholism. He died in 1981 at the age of 43. See Yancey Roy’s story for Newsday.
Didn’t follow the money?
Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz both denied in private interviews with Senate investigators that they knew anything about payment arrangements for the Trump Russia dossier, CNN reported.
Following this week’s disclosure that the campaign and the DNC were among those that paid for the research, Senate intelligence committee investigators may bring them back for further questioning, the report said.
Podesta was accompanied in a September interview with the investigators by Marc Elias, his lawyer. Elias’ law firm hired Fusion GPS to conduct the opposition research on Trump.
Cause with the rebels
Trump renewed his show of sympathy with those who want to preserve Confederate statues and memorials in a tweet boosting Virginia’s Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie, who has made that a campaign theme.
“Strong on crime, he might even save our great statues/heritage!” one of Trump’s tweets said.
A decision by officials in Charlottesville, Virginia, to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee led to white nationalist protest rallies and violent clashes that left a counter-protester dead.
Trump’s comment afterward that there were “very fine people” on both sides drew rebukes from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Gushing gave way to babbling as Trump spoke in his Wednesday night interview on Fox Business Network about China’s President Xi Linping, who was granted new powers by the ruling Communist Party.
“People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he’s called president also,” Trump said. “Now, some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called president.”
What else is happening
- After touting the planned release of long-secret records on the 1963 John F. Kennedy assassination, Trump yielded to CIA and FBI appeals to hold hundreds back, citing “potentially irreversible harm” to national security. The National Archives was moving forward to make public 2,800 others.
- Asked if he was worried Trump won’t like parts of the House Republicans’ full tax plan when it is unveiled, Speaker Paul Ryan said, “Well, he’s going to be in Asia, number one.” He quickly added: “I’m just kidding, that was kind of a joke.” The plan is due Wednesday, two days before Trump departs.
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson closely inspected a statue in Geneva of two people curled up in an embrace and remarked: “Some days, I feel like I need to do that. Curl up in a ball.” Tillerson has had a rocky relationship with Trump.
- While he was advising Trump’s campaign, former CIA director James Woolsey pitched a $10 million contract to two pro-government Turkish businessmen to help discredit a dissident cleric, Reuters reported. He lost out, but another Trump adviser, Mike Flynn, won a $600,000 deal with a similar aim.
- The brother of Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, one of four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger Oct. 4, said he wants to know if the military may have made mistakes that ultimately led to his brother’s death. He added in a statement: “We do not blame the Army or the President; war is hell.”
- The Senate Leadership Fund, allied with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is pushing back at former Trump aide Steve Bannon’s drive to oust incumbent GOP senators. Bannon himself is being targeted as an ally of white nationalists.