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MacArthur ‘cautiously optimistic’ about his Obamacare replacement amendment

Shortly after his amendment

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Social Conservatives Are ‘Over the Moon’ About Trump

On the eighth floor of the Marriott Marquis in New York’s Times Square, Marjorie Dannenfelser stabbed anxiously at a plate of salad while offering a series of defensive and unconvincing answers. It was June of last year, and Dannenfelser, a social conservative titan and president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, was one of nearly a thousand Christian activists to attend a summit that afternoon with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. She also was one of roughly 50 to join him for a VIP meeting beforehand. Many of these leaders, including Dannenfelser, had opposed his candidacy from the outset of the campaign; now that they were closing ranks around a thrice-married Manhattan socialite and self-described womanizer with a history of running casinos and supporting partial-birth abortion, I had a simple question for Dannenfelser: Why would social conservatives stake their credibility and moral authority on Donald Trump?

After several halting responses, Dannenfelser leaned forward and lowered her voice. “All along the way he was our last choice,” she told me. “But when you get to the end, to the point of having a binary choice, you must choose.”

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Dannenfelser chose Trump. So did dozens of other prominent Christian leaders, inviting the scorn and skepticism of critics who accused them of abandoning their principles in the pursuit of partisan victory. There was considerable downside: If Trump lost, they would have nothing to show for allying themselves with someone whose lifestyle was a manifest rebuke to their values; if he won, Trump could easily turn against them, tacking leftward on issues of life, marriage and religious liberty to broaden his appeal. “It was a risk,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who organized last summer’s New York meeting, tells me this week. “But it was a calculated risk.”

It paid off—and then some.

The first 100 days of Trump’s presidency have been pocked with disappointment for various constituencies: Immigration hawks haven’t seen funding for a border wall; Obamacare haters haven’t seen a repeal-and-replace bill pass either chamber of Congress; Wall Streeters haven’t seen a realistic plan for overhauling the tax code; protectionists haven’t seen China tagged a currency manipulator; and America-Firsters have seen neither NATO pushed aside nor the Middle East placed on the presidential back-burner.

The one group Trump has paid outsized attention to—and consistently delivered for—is the social conservative movement. He reinstated and even toughened the Mexico City Policy, which eliminates U.S. funding for international NGOs that perform abortions. He rescinded President Barack Obama’s protections for transgender students to use preferred bathrooms in public schools. He signed legislation that routs federal money away from Planned Parenthood. He cut off funding to the U.N. Population Fund, which critics say has long supported coercive abortions in China and other countries. He stockpiled his administration with pro-life evangelical Christians in critical roles, including Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services, Betsy DeVos as education secretary and Mike Pence as vice president. And, most significantly, he appointed Neil

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Get the latest on Trump’s tax reform plan

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5 things to know about Trump's tax plan

5 things to know about Trump's tax plan

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Director Gary Cohn speak about President Donald Trump's new tax reform plan, at the White House, on April 26. | Getty

Though it broke little new ground, President Donald Trump's tax reform outline underscores just how arduous a task overhauling the tax code could be for Republicans this year. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, handed out a one-page overview of the plan Wednesday — and told reporters that the administration had to fill in many of the key details that make overhauling the tax code so difficult that it’s happened only a handful of times over the last century.

Here are five things to know about the newest version of Trump’s tax plan:

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What’s in it?

Trump released a couple tax plans during the campaign, with the most recent coming around seven months ago. Many of the details released Wednesday haven’t changed since that September plan, including proposals to cut the top tax rate for all businesses to 15 percent and to repeal the estate tax and alternative minimum tax.

But some changes have been made, including a couple major ones. Trump now proposes a so-called territorial tax system that shields offshore corporate income from U.S. taxation, a key priority for corporate America. The top tax rate on individuals is also slightly higher than in Trump’s last plan, moving to 35 percent from 33 percent, while tax incentives like the deduction for state and local taxes would get the ax. And the Trump team seeks to double the standard deduction claimed by most taxpayers, which is still smaller than what the campaign sought in September.

How’s it different from what Congress wants?

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the House’s top tax writer, Kevin Brady (R-Texas), have taken to saying that their tax blueprint is about 80 percent in sync with the White House’s. The two sides disagree on the border-adjusted tax — applied to imports but not exports — that is central to the House blueprint, the House plan has a 20 percent rate for businesses and a 33 percent top rate for individuals, and Trump wants to go after an Obamacare tax on investment income for higher earners that GOP leaders would like to tackle in an Affordable Care Act replacement.

But there is quite a bit of overlap between the two plans, including a territorial system and a repeal of the estate tax and the AMT. Ryan, Brady, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch released a statement that said Wednesday’s details “will serve as critical guideposts for Congress and the administration as we work together to overhaul the American tax system.”

How much does it cost?

Short answer: Impossible to say right now. Both the conservative Tax Foundation and the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center projected that Trump’s last campaign plan would cost in the neighborhood of $6 trillion over a

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Inside Trump's quiet effort to revive the health care bill

President Donald Trump’s health care reform died on a Friday in March, but Trump decided by the following Sunday that he wanted to quietly resuscitate the bill. “I’m going back to it. I’m not going to give it up,” he said the last weekend of March, according to a person close to the President.

That decision weeks ago set in motion a series of quiet maneuvers that have paid off in the new legislation now taking shape – which on Wednesday won the endorsement of the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative Republican group that tanked the first initiative.

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It’s still unclear whether Republican leaders have enough votes to pass the revised bill through the House, let alone the Senate. But the progress toward a deal has come just as Trump approaches his 100th day in office, a marker he’s eager to celebrate with a win.

Interviews with 12 White House and Hill aides revealed clear differences between the brute-force approach Trump took the first time around, largely under the direction of chief strategist Steve Bannon, and the second effort, which has been led from the White House by Vice President Mike Pence. It’s featured less Presidential involvement, a softer sell to all sides and no fixed deadline – just the clear hope of getting a bill to the floor before Trump’s first 100 days were up.

In a series of conversations with Bannon, chief of staff Reince Preibus, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, and Vice President Mike Pence in the wake of the failed March health care negotiations, Trump conveyed that they should reach out to the Freedom Caucus, the moderate Tuesday Group, and House leadership to see if there was a way to save the bill.

But first, there was a cooling-off period, with no contact between Trump administration officials and Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, according to a staffer. The Thursday after the collapse of the first bill, the president singled out Meadows and two other prominent Freedom Caucus members in a tweet: “If @RepMarkMeadows , @Jim_Jordan and @Raul_Labrador would get on board we would have both great healthcare and massive tax cuts & reform.”

Meanwhile, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short was doing soul-searching with his team, which included drafting a memo on lessons learned from the first health care push. For future battles, they decided that the White House would have to drive the agenda, rather than letting Republicans in Congress take the lead. They also needed better coordination with outside conservative groups, which opposed the first bill and made clear to members of Congress that they would support anyone who bucked the president.

“I think a lot of people had the sense of not accomplishing our goal,” said Short. “I think there was a collective interest to revisit it.”

At the same time, Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows was opening talks with Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur, according to another Freedom Caucus staffer. “When the president said we’re

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