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Trump tax plan may slash benefits for retirement savings

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and President Donald

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and President Donald Trump seen here on Oct. 16, 2017, are working out details of GOP legislation on taxes and health care. Photo Credit: Bloomberg / Al Drago

Scrambled nest eggs

Donald Trump is selling his tax plan hard, telling a Fox Business Network interviewer, “There’s no way that the middle class doesn’t greatly benefit.”

Here’s one way: Proposals under consideration by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress would limit tax-shielded contributions to 401(k) retirement plans to as little as $2,400 annually. The current maximum is $18,000 for most workers and $24,000 for those 50 years or older.

Asked about the idea on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell neither embraced it nor ruled it out.

“It’s way too early to predict the various details,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal said it wasn’t clear whether IRA accounts could also face new limits.

IRAs and 401(k)s have become more vital for retirement savings over the years. The percentage of private-sector workers with traditional pension plans has declined by two-thirds since the 1970s.

Paging Dr. Trump

McConnell said he’s willing to let the Senate vote on a bipartisan plan to stabilize health insurance markets if Trump is willing to go along. Trouble is, Trump has been running hot, cold and lukewarm on it.

The bill co-authored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would extend federal subsidies to help keep Obamacare insurance affordable for lower income people for up to two years while efforts continue for more lasting changes.

“What I’m waiting for is to hear from President Trump what kind of health care bill he might sign,” McConnell said. “If there’s a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the president will actually sign.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that a majority — 48 Democrats and 12 Republicans — support the bill.

No RIP for widow call feud

Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four U.S. soldiers who died in Niger, was buried Saturday. The feud over Trump’s call to Johnson’s widow won’t stop.

Trump tweeted another attack Sunday morning on “Wacky Congresswoman” Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), deriding her as “the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party,” reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

Wilson, who set Trump off by describing his call as insensitive, said on MSNBC: “He doesn’t want me to give him a nickname.” She demanded an apology from chief of staff John Kelly, who “lied on me” by misrepresenting a speech she once gave as he depicted her as a grandstander.

Meanwhile, The Atlantic reported the White House is rushing out condolence letters via express delivery to families of service members who died months ago. One was received Friday by the father of a sailor killed aboard the USS John S. McCain in an August collision.

The take-away: Niger questions

It’s been easier for the Trump administration to demonize Wilson than to explain what went wrong in Niger, where the U.S. soldiers were caught in an ambush by terrorist forces.

The answers to these questions may eventually explain Trump’s apparent determination to avoid associating himself with the entire matter, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

No general immunity

David Petraeus, the retired four-star Army general and former CIA director, pushed back on White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comments Friday trying to shut down questioning about Kelly’s attack on Wilson.

Sanders said, “if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, that’s something that’s highly inappropriate.”

Petraeus, on ABC’s “This Week,” said, “We in uniform protect the rights of others to criticize us, frankly. ... I think we’re all fair game.”

What else is happening

  • Former President Jimmy Carter told The New York Times he’d like to go to North Korea on a peace mission for Trump. No response from Trump, who has disparaged Carter on Twitter as one of the worst presidents and a “stiff.”
  • Trump tweeted a plug for a book by Dallas evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress after he defended the president in the flap over the call to the soldier’s widow. Jeffress has also said Satan was behind the Catholic and Mormon churches.
  • McConnell said Senate Republicans don’t deserve Trump’s darts for not doing enough. “I think he’s getting a lot more done than he’s giving everybody credit for,” he said.
  • Sen. John McCain, without naming Trump, cast shade on his Vietnam War-era draft deferment. “We drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong.” McCain said on C-SPAN 3, American History TV.

Trump has personally pledged $430,000 to help aides pay legal costs from the Russia investigation. A former ethics official finds that alarming: “A potential witness or target of an investigation (and boss of investigators) paying for legal fees of other potential witnesses or targets?” tweeted Walter Shaub.

An EPA official who previously worked for the chemical industry’s trade association is easing rules on chemicals that have been suspected of health and environmental risks, The New York Times reported.

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