Pick your poison?
Senate Republicans are out with their tax plan. For places like Long Island, with high state and local taxes and pricey real estate, it’s not the “Christmas present” President Donald Trump has been selling.
Newsday’s Tom Brune reports all state and local tax deductions would be scrapped. The House bill cuts the state and local income tax deduction, but retains a limited property tax deduction.
One part of the Senate plan is more generous than the House bill for homeowners — it keeps the mortgage interest deduction. But that’s not enough to keep Nassau and Suffolk from losing, said Kevin Law of the pro-business Long Island Association.
“While the House plan is terrible for a majority of Long Islanders, the Senate version is terrible for all Long Islanders,” he said.
The White House doesn’t mind socking it to blue states, but won’t like how the Senate bill delays for a year a cut in corporate tax rates — Trump’s top priority.
Newsday’s Yancey Roy has a side-by-side comparison of the two plans.
Talking Turkey money
Special counsel Robert Mueller has been inquiring about an alleged plan by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to apprehend a U.S.-based political target of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan -- and deliver the dissident to that country, the Wall Street Journal reports on its pay site.
The newspaper said Friday: "Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million for delivering Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government, according to people with knowledge of discussions Mr. Flynn had with Turkish representatives." Gullen is a peace-talking Muslim cleric who contributed to Hillary Clinton (and Rick Perry) for president.
Will the wealthy do better under the Republican tax plans? Two Trump administration officials had two ways of looking at it Thursday.
“For people who make over $1 million in the high-tax states, there will be a tax increase,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, who in the past has said the rich wouldn’t get a cut, backpedaled.
“I don’t believe that we’ve set out to create a tax cut for the wealthy. If someone’s getting a tax cut, I’m not upset that they’re getting a tax cut,” he told CNBC.
Janison: Tax plan stakes
Hurdles seem to be growing for the Republicans to achieve their promise of tax “reform,” and the stakes may also have gotten higher after Tuesday’s GOP election losses, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says once tax changes occur, there will be a political bounce in Republicans’ favor. “People will see their paychecks going up, they’ll see faster economic growth, better jobs being created,” he said.
The golden fleece
Candidate Trump was tough on China, likening its trade policies to “rape.” President Trump was as rough as silk on his first visit to Beijing.
“Who can blame a country for being able taking advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?” Trump said as Chinese President Xi Jinping listened a few feet away. The trade deficit was the fault of past U.S. administrations, Trump said.
A presidential tweet later admired China for a quality he deemed Trumpian — mastering the art of the fleece at the expense of suckers. “How can you blame China for taking advantage of people that had no clue? I would’ve done same!”
Trump deferred to Xi’s wishes not to hold a joint news conference, according to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “It was at the Chinese insistence there were no questions today,” she said.
China tried the same during visits by the past three U.S. presidents, but aides traveling with them pushed back and often prevailed.
Just grabbed some sleep
When Trump was in Moscow for his Miss Universe Pageant in 2013, a Russian participant offered to “send five women” to his hotel room, according to his longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller.
Schiller’s closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, as reported by NBC News and CNN, aimed to rebut one of the most salacious unverified allegations collected by a former British spy in the Trump Russia dossier.
Schiller said he took the offer as a joke and responded, “We don’t do that type of stuff.” On their way up to Trump’s hotel room that night, Schiller told Trump about the offer and laughed it off.
Trump went to his room alone and after several minutes outside his door, which was Schiller’s usual routine, he left.
What else is happening
- Steve Miller has become the highest Trump aide still in the White House to be interviewed for the Russia probe conducted by Robert Mueller, CNN reports.
- The House GOP tax plan’s elimination of medical deductions could put a big hurt on middle-class families with extraordinary expenses not covered by insurance, The New York Times reports. The Senate GOP plan keeps the deduction.
- Trump’s support for Alabama’s GOP Senate candidate is in limbo after a Washington Post report that Roy Moore pursued sexual relationships with underage girls. Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump believes if the charges are true: "Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."
- The House Democrats’ campaign arm is declaring 13-term Rep. Pete King (R-Seaford) vulnerable in 2018 after GOP losses in Nassau and defeats for Trump-aligned candidates elsewhere Tuesday, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
- White House chief of staff John Kelly tried to pressure acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to end temporary residence status for tens of thousands of Hondurans, but she refused on legal grounds, The Washington Post said.
- Condominium prices are slumping at Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, The Wall Street Journal (pay site) reports.
- Trump won't formally meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin when both attend an economic conference in Vietnam, spokeswoman Sanders said aboard Air Force One. But a sideline informal chat is still conceivable.