IN TODAY’S EDITION
- Republicans appear to have the votes to pass their major tax reform bill.
- Was the real victim of IRS targeting … the IRS?
- Our constitutional republic is struggling with a very politicized FBI.
- Defining “evangelical” is becoming more difficult as Christians abandon the term.
- Plus our Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.
“They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.” —Thomas Jefferson (1791)
By Thomas Gallatin
Just in time for Christmas, Republicans are poised to hand Americans an historic tax reform package. With initial holdouts — Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) — having now agreed to the finalized legislation, congressional Republicans plan to vote on the bill and have it on President Donald Trump’s desk by week’s end. This will mark a major milestone for both Republicans and Trump in fulfilling a major campaign promise to significantly cut taxes. Trump declared, “This is going to be one of the great gifts to the middle income people of this country that they’ve ever gotten for Christmas.” Anticipating the typical Democrat objections, Trump added, “The Democrats have … their standard sound bite. Before they even know what the bill is all about, they talk about ‘[cuts] for the wealthy.’”
So what’s in the Republicans’ finalized Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will lower taxes on the vast majority of Americans? Here are some of the highlights of the bill:
The biggest change, which Trump has long called for, is a significant cut to the corporate tax rate. It drops to 21% down from the current 35%.
The child tax credit, a major sticking point with Sen. Rubio, is doubled to $2,000-per-child, and the refundable tax credit is increased to $1,400 per child.
The ObamaCare mandate is eliminated. Americans will no longer be penalized for declining to purchase health insurance.
The estate tax, a.k.a. death tax, remains, but the threshold for having to pay it has doubled to $11 million for individuals and $22 million for married couples.
The alternative minimum tax (AMT) has been eliminated for corporations while the AMT threshold for individuals and families has been significantly increased up to $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for married couples.
Mortgage tax deductions decrease for any interest on loans of $750,000 and up.
What doesn’t change? The student loan interest deduction remains, as does the medical expense deduction and the graduate student tuition waver. There are no changes to 401(k)s. And the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches and nonprofits from endorsing political candidates, remains the same, despite earlier GOP attempts to repeal it.
As we have previously written, this tax reform represents a political Armageddon for Democrats as it cuts their political influence, primarily seen in their income redistribution practices, by restructuring power away from them. It transfers greater power back to the American people. Democrats know that, which is why they have been hollering about it being vindictive and unjust. Rather than seeking to put aside their anti-Trump antagonism and seek to work with Republicans, they essentially ceded over their power to Republicans who will reap all the accolades for spurring economic growth with this bill.
By Nate Jackson
Did you know that conservative activists are politically targeting government to the point of making bureaucracy ineffective? That’s what The Washington Post alleges in a story that may as well have been written by infamous former IRS agent Lois Lerner. “Years of conservative attacks on the Internal Revenue Service have greatly diminished the ability of agency regulators to oversee political activity by charities and other nonprofits,” the Post tells us. Cue the world’s smallest violin.
The paper does go on to note the IRS’s Tea Party targeting, albeit with scare quotes: “It represents a success for conservatives who have long sought to scale back the IRS and shrink the federal government. They capitalized on revelations in 2013 that IRS officials focused inappropriately on tea party and other conservative groups based on their names and policy positions, rather than on their political activity, in assessing their applications for tax-exempt status. Among conservatives, the episode has come to be known as the ‘IRS targeting scandal.’”
The crux of the Post’s story is the reduction in funding for the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division from $102 million in 2011 to $82 million last year, all while the number of employees in that division shrank to 642 from 889. Fewer bureaucrats and less money means the agency is less able to monitor the activities of tax-exempt organizations. Some might call this a feature, not a bug.
Let’s not forget that the IRS still holds immense power to destroy people’s lives over a tax code so complex that even two knowledgeable bureaucrats may not come to the same conclusion about a single return. It’s also worth remembering that, far from this being a story about poor bureaucrats set upon by mean conservatives, the real story is that the IRS contributed to Barack Obama’s re-election victory in 2012 by keeping a vast number of conservative organizations on the sidelines during the campaign. While Lois Lerner may be claiming victim status with The Washington Post basically carrying water for her, it’s going to take a long time for our nation to recover from four additional years of Obama’s “fundamental transformation.” So spare us the sob story about lost IRS power.
Merry Christmas: Fed Nowcast up to 4.0% growth for fourth quarter (The Daily Wire)
GOP has votes to pass tax plan — and not a minute too soon… (The Washington Post)
Judiciary Committee will subpoena top FBI, Justice officials (PJ Media)
FBI release emails on “secret” Loretta Lynch-Bill Clinton meeting before FBI’s Hillary decision (The Daily Wire)
Prominent left-wing lawyer sought donor cash for two Trump accusers (The Hill)
Some Democrats express regret over calls for Franken to resign: “Made me sick” (The Washington Free Beacon)
CBO: Legalizing “Dreamers” would cost $26 billion (The Washington Times)
Arrest of MS-13 members, associates up 83% under Trump (The Daily Signal)
Deep state resistance: Washington bureaucrats are chipping away at Trump’s agenda (Bloomberg)
The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook (Politico)
Chick-fil-A feeds stranded people at Atlanta airport — on a Sunday! (RedState)
Policy: Trump’s deregulation binge Is lightening the economy’s load (Investor’s Business Daily)
Policy: When school-discipline “reform” makes schools less safe (National Review)
For more of today’s news, visit Patriot Headline Report.
By Arnold Ahlert
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office that there’s no way [Donald Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” —one of the text messages sent by FBI official Peter Strzok to fellow FBI official and DOJ attorney Lisa Page, Aug. 15, 2016
After eight years of Obama administration efforts to “fundamentally transform” our nation, Americans may be facing the reality that our major law enforcement institutions are fundamentally corrupt, and that Democrats and their Leftmedia allies — now indistinguishable from one another — will attempt to minimize this damning reality.
Yet at some point, Americans are owed an explanation about an “insurance policy” that resembles a strategy to undermine the 2016 election. We can already surmise that “Andy” refers to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife received nearly $700,000 in campaign donations for her Virginia Senate race from Clinton allies — while he was supervising the Clinton email investigation.
That Strzok was removed from the Russian collusion investigation for this text and the approximately 10,000 other exchanges between him and his extra-marital partner — a removal exposed by leaks, as opposed to full disclosure by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — begets a reasonable question: Why does he remain at the FBI in any capacity?
Strzok was once the nation’s second-in-command for counterintelligence. Yet he carried on an easily traceable affair with a colleague — when he wasn’t busy leading the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and critically editing the memo that gave former FBI director James Comey cover to exonerate her. Strzok also failed to charge Clinton associates Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, despite proof they were lying about having no knowledge of Clinton’s private server, even as he facilitated the indictment of Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn — for the same crime.
Strzok was hardly an outlier. The stench of partisanship attaches itself to other members of Mueller’s team. Bruce G. Ohr, the former associate deputy attorney general and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, was demoted after evidence revealed he was in contact with Fusion GPS, producer of the infamous Steele dossier paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. (His wife, Nellie Ohr, was hired by Fusion GPS specifically to probe Trump). Andrew Weissmann emailed former acting AG Sally Yates to express his “awe” for her refusal to implement Trump’s legal travel ban. Aaron Zebley represented Clinton IT staffer Justin Cooper, the man who set up Clinton’s server — and smashed her Blackberries with a hammer. Jeannie Rhee was a Clinton campaign donor, represented the Clinton Foundation, and functioned as Obama deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes’ personal attorney.
Page and Strzok had another equally damning exchange. “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” Page stated in a text that also included a Trump-related article. “Of course I’ll try and approach it that way,” Strzok replied.
Was Strzok’s aforementioned editing job that included changing the words “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” in Comey’s memo part of that “approach?”
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Dec. 7, current FBI Director Christopher Wray insisted his agency is above reproach. Yet when Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) asked him if the Steele dossier was used to spy on Trump associates, Wray refused to answer, citing the ongoing investigation conducted by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General as the reason. Six days later, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein declined to answer the same question — but insisted there’s no bias in Mueller’s investigation.
What about illegality? Trump attorney Kory Langhofer is accusing Mueller of illegally obtaining transition team emails from career staffers at the General Services Administration (GSA), including confidential attorney-client communications, in an apparent violation of the president’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Moreover, Wray and Rosenstein aren’t the only stonewallers. On March 20, 2017, Comey told Congress the counterintelligence operation into Russian collusion was recommended by Asst. Director of Counter Intelligence Bill Priestap, who was Strzok’s former boss. Priestap also decided not to inform congressional overseers “because of the sensitivity of the matter,” Comey testified.
Disingenuous? Priestap’s boss was McCabe. McCabe’s boss was Comey.
McCabe was scheduled to testify behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee last Tuesday, but abruptly canceled due to a “scheduling error.” Some members of the Committee apparently weren’t buying it. “McCabe has an Ohr problem,” a congressional source surmised.
He is scheduled to testify this week, and while the Committee is prepared to subpoena McCabe to compel his testimony, one suspects he would invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination — before stating anything that might reveal the nation is in the midst of the biggest political scandal in its history.
With so many players and moving parts it’s easy to ignore the one individual who may have been the prime mover behind all of these machinations. “Lest we forget, President Obama had endorsed Mrs. Clinton … to be president,” Andrew McCarthy writes. “Moreover, Obama had knowingly participated in the conduct for which Clinton was under investigation — using a pseudonym in communicating with her about classified government business over an unsecure private communication system.”
Americans should also remember former AG Loretta Lynch’s airport tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton while his wife remained under investigation, and that she directed Comey to call that investigation a “matter.” Emails released Friday by the DOJ reveal department officials were less concerned by the meeting itself than that it was leaked to the press and how to prevent further leaks.
Americans should also remember Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power unmasked Americans.
Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s office has compiled more than 1.2 million pages of documentation, and even if the aforementioned players don’t cooperate, indictments are a real possibility. Thus, Americans will soon learn if we are still a constitutional republic — or whether the aforementioned “fundamental transformation” has succeeded beyond the former president’s wildest dreams.
Trump is said to be dismantling Obama’s “legacy.” Taking down a potential police state should be priority number one.
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s top cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST
- Defining Evangelicals — Some Christians are having a tough time with the label because of the political connotations.
- Trump’s FBI Speech — The president laments politicization, but pledges his full support to the nation’s law enforcement.
- Boston Tea Party — On Dec. 16, 1773, “radicals” from Boston threw 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.
BEST OF RIGHT OPINION
- Jeff Jacoby: This Is Your Brain on Social Media
- Bill Wagner: Justice Department Inspector General
- Larry P. Arnn: Three Lessons of Statesmanship
- Burt Prelutsky: Witch-Burnings
- Kathryn Jean Lopez: The Reason for the Season
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Gary Bauer: “Several Hollywood celebrities and comedians are putting on a special Christmas performance [this] week benefiting Christian orphanages. No, wait, that’s not it. They are helping to raise funds for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Oh, sorry, wrong again. Unbelievably, their Christmas celebration is being used to raise money for the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. If King Herod were alive today, he’d have a photo on his wall signed by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. In an attempt to kill Jesus, Herod ordered all babies two and under to be murdered. Richards does him one better. She promotes destroying innocent babies before they can take their first breath out of the womb.”
The Gipper: “I have a special reason for wanting to solve this [economic] problem in a lasting way. I was 21 and looking for work in 1932, one of the worst years of the Great Depression. And I can remember one bleak night in the ‘30s when my father learned on Christmas Eve that he’d lost his job. To be young in my generation was to feel that your future had been mortgaged out from under you, and that’s a tragic mistake we must never allow our leaders to make again.”
Upright: “In face-to-face conversation, people devote 30 to 40 percent of their speech to communicate personal feelings or experiences, Harvard researchers found in a 2012 study. On social media, the figure soars to 80 percent. Interactions on social sites thus trigger a dopamine rush far more consistently than traditional communication — and getting that rush requires less effort. … Sites like Facebook are normalizing unhealthy behavior with alarming speed. Most obviously, they promote a culture of relentless narcissism and a persistent hunger for flattery.” —Jeff Jacoby
Political futures: “Those [sexual harassment] allegations were made before the election and so people had an opportunity to judge before the election. I think we need to move on and not be distracted by those issues. I don’t think the president ought to resign at this point.” —Senator-elect Doug Jones on the Democrats’ “Assault Allegation” strategy to take out Trump
For the record: “I don’t think impeachment is something we should be talking about. … I think it’s futile at this point in time.” —Sen. Joe Manchin
Tone-deaf: “ABSOLUTE RED LINE: the firing of Bob Mueller or crippling the special counsel’s office.” —Eric Holder (What about gun-walking to Mexico?)
You’re always welcome to (try to) celebrate Christmas in North Korea: “All I want for Christmas is full communism now.” —BuzzFeed’s Kelly Oakes
And last… “I’ve yet to meet a Christian who’s liberal in their politics who’s not also liberal in their theology. They tend to view the Bible as they view the Constitution — mostly outdated & subjective to their feelings.” —Allie Stuckey
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families. We also humbly ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher