Doing a number
President Donald Trump’s tax-cut plan taketh back some of what it giveth in his home state.
Trump would eliminate deductions for state and local taxes that have long meant big savings for New Yorkers, especially on Long Island, and people in other high-tax states, reports Newsday’s Yancey Roy.
Long Island’s two GOP House members liked parts of the plan that would lower individual tax rates and raise the standard deduction — but they want the state and local deductions preserved.
“That is a direct hit to the Long Island economy,” Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said. “It could be devastating. It certainly will be damaging.”
It would also undermine the state’s tax base, said E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank. On that point, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was unsympathetic.
“It’s not the federal government’s job to be subsidizing the states,” Mnuchin told reporters at a White House briefing.
Slash and earn
Mnuchin and National Economic Director Gary Cohn touted the plan as “one of the biggest tax cuts in American history,” saying it would lift up the middle class by creating jobs and economic growth, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
Details were skimpy. Individual tax rates would be compressed into three brackets — 10%, 25% and 35% — but the plan’s outline doesn’t say at what income levels the brackets would start and end. Trump would also eliminate the alternative minimum tax on higher incomes, which cost Trump $31 million in 2005, according to leaked returns.
The top corporate tax rate would fall to 15% from 35%.
While many Republicans embraced the plan, Democrats said it was skewed for the wealthy. “Clearly, the president and those at his level of wealth would benefit, while tens of millions of American families are hurt,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
NAFTA la vista?
The Trump administration is considering an executive order putting Canada and Mexico on notice that the United States intends to withdraw from NAFTA, Politico and others reported.
If Trump goes ahead, the move could start the clock on negotiations to pressure the two countries to agree to trade terms more favorable to the U.S. Trump stepped up complaints against Canada in the past week and has long accused Mexico of taking away American jobs.
Trump on Twitter last October: "I will renegotiate NAFTA. If I can’t make a great deal, we’re going to tear it up. We’re going to get this economy running again."
A wordier Trump on Twitter Thursday morning: "I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate. I agreed......subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA. Relationships are good-deal very possible!"
As with most things Trumpian, we'll have to wait and see what all that means and what actually happens.
100 days of Trump
Like it or not — and he doesn’t seem to like it — Trump’s accomplishments over his first 100 days are being measured against a benchmark used by historians and political analysts since Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in the depths of the Great Depression, reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa.
“There is an important way in which the first 100 days is significant and that is that it gives a real indication of the tone of an administration,” said Jeffrey Engel, a presidential historian at Southern Methodist University.
One difference: Unlike FDR or Barack Obama, Trump didn’t take office in an economic crisis of the kind that could spur Congress to act more swiftly on the new president’s agenda.
The take-away: Circuit breaker
“We’ll see them in the Supreme Court” was Trump’s response Wednesday to the order by a federal judge in California halting parts of his “sanctuary city” crackdown plan.
For many years, Republicans have complained about the “left-coast” decisions from the federal court system’s Ninth Circuit.
Trump tweeted that the circuit has a “terrible record of being overturned (close to 80%),” and on that, he has a point, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison. Between 2010 and 2015, the Supreme Court reversed 79% of the Ninth Circuit cases it chose to review — third highest among the 13 circuits.
Trump told the Washington Examiner in an interview Wednesday that he has “absolutely” considered proposals that would split up the Ninth Circuit.
This land isn’t our land
Trump signed an executive order ordering a review of the status of federally protected public lands designated by the three previous presidents as national monuments.
He accused the Obama administration of “a massive federal land grab.” His order would end “another egregious abuse of federal power” and “give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs,” Trump said.
The designations have limited the lands’ use for farming; timber harvesting; mining and oil and gas exploration; and other commercial purposes.
Health plan tilts right
The hard-right House Freedom Caucus is now onboard with the latest version of an Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan, but it’s unclear whether there are enough GOP moderates who will favor it.
Among their concerns: The bill would weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and deeply cut funding for Medicaid.
What else is happening
- Trump signed an executive order starting a 300-day review of education regulations, including Common Core and the Obama-era Every Student Succeeds Act.
- Ivanka Trump told NBC News that admitting refugees from Syria into the U.S. “has to be part of the discussion” of the humanitarian crisis there. Her father strongly opposes such a move.
- Trump’s Cabinet secretaries are exasperated at how slowly the White House is moving to fill hundreds of top jobs in their agencies, The Washington Post reports.
- Senators who attended a White House briefing on North Korea left with many unanswered questions about the Trump administration’s policy.
- The Senate has confirmed Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general. The longtime federal prosecutor will be the top Justice Department official in the federal investigation into Russian influence in the U.S. elections because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.
- The Associated Press sought out linguists to deconstruct Trump’s distinct speaking style. One said Trump mirrors the tactics of advertisers going for emotional persuasion with graphic imagery stirred by vivid words, and language more typical of the streets than of a statesman.