Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Plundering Of America


I didn't realize that urbanologist Richard Florida was overtly political. I guess Trump is pissing him off as much as he's pissing off the rest of the country-- and the world.. Yesterday Florida tweeted that "It is the sole motivation of our plutocratic president & leadership. They look at Putin & say: "I can do a lot better plundering the US ..." He was commenting on this David Sirota report at International Business Times. The just of Sirota's article was that on Friday night Trump added a little clause into the Tax Scam bill to further enrich himself. Has any other president ever done anything like that? "Republican congressional leaders and real estate moguls," wrote Sirota, "could be personally enriched by a  real-estate-related provision GOP lawmakers slipped into the final tax bill released Friday evening, according to experts interviewed by International Business Times. The legislative language was not part of previous versions of the bill and was added despite ongoing conflict-of-interest questions about the intertwining real estate interests and governmental responsibilities of President Donald Trump-- the bill’s chief proponent."

The Trump organization and the Kushners (the family of Ivanka's husband, Jared) have overseen vast real estate empires, and top GOP lawmakers writing the tax bill collectively have tens of millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate-related LLCs. The new tax provision would specifically allow owners of large real estate holdings through LLCs to deduct a percentage of their “pass through” income from their taxes, according to experts. Although Trump, who became famous for his real estate holdings, has transitioned into branding in recent years, federal records show Trump has ownership stakes in myriad LLCs.

The new provision was not in the bill passed by the House or the Senate. Instead, it was inserted into the final bill during reconciliation negotiations between Republicans from both chambers. The provision, said experts, would offer a special tax cut to LLCs with few employees and large amounts of depreciable property assets, namely buildings: rent generating apartment and office buildings.

“This helps people who have held property for awhile, like Donald Trump,” David Kamin, an New York University law professor who served as a special assistant to the president for economic policy  in the Obama administration, told IBT. “If you’ve got an LLC that’s a trade or business with a bunch of real estate holdings and few employees, [I] think you’re now golden. You get the deduction.”

Similarly, Urban Institute tax expert Steve Rosenthal told IBT the provision would specifically benefit real estate investors.

“It would benefit real estate businesses especially, which typically operate as pass-through businesses, most often LLCs,” said Rosenthal, a former tax attorney at Ropes & Gray. “An LLC's building, and other depreciable property, would be ‘qualified property’ for purposes of the new test, as long as the LLC had not fully depreciated the property. That would be unlikely, as commercial real property is currently depreciated over 39 years.”

IBT previously reported that 13 GOP lawmakers directly sculpting the bill-- including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan-- have between $36 million and $163 million worth of ownership stakes in real estate-related LLCs. Those entities generated between $2.6 million and $16 million in “pass through” income and could benefit from the new provision.

Sen. Bob Corker, who was considered a potential “no” vote on the bill, abruptly switched his position upon the release of the final legislation. Federal records reviewed by IBT show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit.

“Pass throughs” are business entities that don’t pay corporate income taxes, like partnerships, LLCs and S-Corporations. Instead, they “pass through” income to partners, who then pay personal income taxes on the money they receive. The Senate version of the tax bill would have added a 23 percent deduction for income from pass-throughs to the tax code. The new reconciled tax bill shrinks that deduction to 20 percent but, in a last minute change, added a new way around restrictions that would have kept pass-throughs with large income but few employees from benefiting.

The new bill still has the same income provision but adds a loophole: depreciable property. So instead of being being able to get a large tax cut only if you pay a lot of wages, now you can get the tax cut if you own a lot of property.

“If they were saying before Trump wouldn’t get this because his pass-through firms don’t have employees, that’s clearly no longer the case,” Kamin said.

The Republican congressional zombies-- did you watch Z-Nation Friday night?-- seem to be on autopilot over this massively unpopular Tax Scam. It's almost as if they've become downright fatalistic about the massive electoral losses they know they're about to suffer at the hands of angry voters. And just can't stop themselves. Perhaps they're looking forward to life after Congress... on K Street. As McKay Coppins reported Thursday for The Atlantic, The Republican Nightmare Is Just Beginning-- and they know it. "Even as Moore’s political obituaries were being written, party strategists were bracing for the army of Moore-like insurgents they expect to flood next year’s Republican primaries... [T]he dynamics that made it possible for Moore to win the Republican primary in Alabama are unlikely to change by 2018-- and the consequences of the GOP nominating a slate of toxic standard-bearers could reverberate well beyond the midterms." It's almost as if dozens of mainstream Republican electeds are just giving up and ceding the party to the fringe psychopaths that have been enabled by Fox, Hate Talk Radio, an increasingly turgid education system, and the widespread opioid addiction that now defines "red state America," or at least the Trump base.

The "enhanced" Tax Scam shocked even Nancy Pelosi in its audacity to steal from America and enrich its authors. "With each version," she said yesterday, "the GOP tax scam becomes an even more cowardly, outrageous, and brazen theft from middle class families to corporations and the wealthiest one percent. Slashing the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans even deeper is Republicans’ final insult to hard-working Americans in this deficit-exploding scam of a bill. Republicans went into conference with two bills that raise taxes on tens of millions of middle class families. But instead of actually helping middle class Americans, the GOP throws them a few meager crumbs while slashing taxes for millionaires even deeper. The GOP tax scam’s theft from middle class families to give to the wealthiest is a moral obscenity. The American people see it for exactly the con job it is. And the American people will hold Republicans accountable for the votes they cast next week."

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At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Maybe most of the real estate should be owned by rich people and the rest of us pay them rent. Then they could up the rent and where will we be? No health insurance, no home ownership, smaller social safety net, higher rent and only workers paying the bulk of the taxes. It will be like going back to a serf society. Nice plan. That's what the Republicans have in store for us. Can I scream as loud as I can?

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scream loud Hone. Pelosi won't hear you. Neither will scummer. The very few who do hear you don't count if Pelosi and scummer are there.

Don't for one femtosecond think either gives one furry rat's ass about the billionaires enriching themselves. They've been working toward that same goal their entire political life. They've focused more on privatized prisons, banking and other sectors before now. But the big real estate boys are good for a few 10s of millions in "donations" too. So why not.

The plundering started for real with Reagan. But it didn't stop with Clinton nor obamanation either. Obamanation plundered more than everyone except trump. So there's that.


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