What Now?! – 9/30/2020

The New York Times dropped the next installment of its series on President Trump’s leaked tax returns.

“While the story of The Apprentice is by now well known, the president’s tax returns reveal another grand twist that has never been truly told — how the popularity of that fictional alter ego rescued him, providing a financial lifeline to reinvent himself yet again. And then how, in an echo of the boom-and-bust cycle that has defined his business career, he led himself toward the financial shoals he must navigate today.”

“Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame.”

“Republican lawmakers reacted with nearly complete silence on Monday to a New York Times investigation that revealed President Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and that he oversees a network of businesses that are riddled with debt and losing hundreds of millions of dollars,” the New York Times reports.

Nick Akerman, who served on the prosecution team during the 1970s Watergate investigation, told CNN he believed President Trump would likely face tax fraud charges upon leaving the White House.

Said Ackerman: “Tax avoidance is simply taking the tax code and getting the most deductions you can get under the code that is perfectly legal. Tax fraud, however, is lying about what your income was, lying about what your deductions are, and there’s a couple of items that just stand out in that report from the New York Times that really appear to go beyond tax avoidance.”

Daniel Shaviro looks at President Trump tax information as reported by the New York Times and concludes he is not as rich as he claims.

“The impending financial liabilities, and selling off of assets (plus taking out of loans) to keep the cash flowing is only one reason for concluding that, as a matter of net worth (as distinct, from say, lifestyle), Trump does not appear to be rich. Consider that, from 2000 to 2018, his net profit from assets – his own businesses, plus investments in businesses run by others – is only $4.2 million (the excess of his investment gains over his business losses).”

“This is about $220,000 per year. Just as a very general ballpark comparison, if you were earning $220,000 per year from assets that offered, say, a regular 4 percent annual return, that would imply that you were worth only $5.5 million.”

“The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission Tuesday accusing the Trump campaign of ‘laundering’ $170 million through numerous companies, some with connections to former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale,” Forbes reports.

“The complaint alleges that the Trump campaign paid millions of dollars to campaign-connected vendors without reporting those payments to the FEC, specifically honing in on American Made Media Consultants, a firm created by Parscale, which has been paid over $106 million, making it the campaigns largest vendor.”

A review by the Washington Post of nearly 90 state and federal voting lawsuits “found that judges have been broadly skeptical as Republicans use claims of voter fraud to argue against such changes, declining to endorse the GOP’s arguments or dismissing them as they examined limits on mail voting.”

“In no case did a judge back President Trump’s view — refuted by experts — that fraud is a problem significant enough to sway a presidential election.”

“The defense lawyer for Michael Flynn told a judge on Tuesday that she talked about his criminal case in a meeting with President Trump, who has been highly critical of the prosecution of his former national security advisor for lying to FBI agents,” CNBC reports.

“This summer, as controversial new procedures at the U.S. Postal Service snarled the nation’s mail delivery and stirred fears of how the agency would handle the election, rank-and-file workers quietly began to resist,” the Washington Post reports.

“Mechanics in New York drew out the dismantling and removal of mail-sorting machines until their supervisor gave up on the order. In Michigan, a group of letter carriers did an end run around a supervisor’s directive to leave election mail behind, starting their routes late to sift through it. In Ohio, postal clerks culled prescriptions and benefit checks from bins of stalled mail to make sure they were delivered, while some carriers ran late items out on their own time. In Pennsylvania, some postal workers looked for any excuse — a missed turn, heavy traffic, a rowdy dog — to buy enough time to finish their daily rounds.”

“New York City’s coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday,” Axios reports.

“The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.”

“Top White House officials pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer to downplay the risk of sending children back to school, a strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic,” the New York Times reports.

“As part of their behind-the-scenes effort, White House officials also tried to circumvent the CDC in a search for alternate data showing that the pandemic was weakening and posed little danger to children.”

“Retail bankruptcies, liquidations and store closings in the U.S. reached records in the first half of 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated industry changes, particularly the shift to online shopping,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Tens of thousands of airline workers will lose their jobs in a matter of days if Congress is unable to break through its gridlock, even though a majority of lawmakers support heading off the looming layoffs for an industry that’s been decimated by the coronavirus,” Politico reports.

“Airline unions have been pleading with Congress for months to extend the Payroll Support Program, a $32 billion program of airline payroll support grants given as part of the CARES Act, a condition of which required that airlines not involuntarily lay off workers until after Sept. 30. Without extending the program, which will require a $28 billion cash infusion, airlines say they will have to start laying off pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and more.”

Politico: “Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke Monday evening, according to Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman, and they plan to speak again Tuesday morning. If no agreement seems likely — and it hasn’t been despite months of on-and-off negotiations — Pelosi and House Democratic leaders will hold a vote on their own $2.2 trillion bill as soon as Wednesday and then go home, guaranteeing that Congress won’t send more help until after Election Day.”

Playbook: “Could a deal come together? Sure. It would require a massive capitulation on one side. We checked with a few very senior White House aides late Monday evening, and their view was if they are forced to negotiate off of Pelosi’s new, $2.2 trillion bill, this latest round of talks doesn’t stand much of a chance.”

New York Times: “In the 10 months since a mysterious pneumonia began striking residents of Wuhan, China, Covid-19 has killed more than one million people worldwide as of Monday — an agonizing toll compiled from official counts, yet one that far understates how many have really died.”

Axios: “More than half of those deaths have come in four countries: the U.S. (204,762), Brazil (141,741), India (95,542) and Mexico (76,430). The true global death toll is likely far higher.”

New York Times: “In the last week, leading epidemiologists from respected institutions have, through different methods, reached the same conclusion: About 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the current pandemic.”

“The number is important because it means that ‘herd immunity’ — the point at which a disease stops spreading because nearly everyone in a population has contracted it — is still very far off.”

David French: “Something bothers me about the most common explanations for why conspiracy theories are spreading on the American right. When trying to account for the rise of the Q-Anon movement, for example, pundits and social scientists tend to use terms like ‘distrust.’ But to understand how so many Americans can believe that ‘they’ have dark and evil designs, we need to resort to a more primal emotion: hate.”

“Here’s what I mean. I don’t trust my car dealer. When it comes to matters like car pricing, car repairs, and car warranties, I adopt Ronald Reagan’s mantra from the days of the Cold War: ‘Trust, but verify.’”

“But though I don’t trust my car dealer, I don’t dislike anyone at the dealership. So if you told me that the guy who sold me my 2018 Honda Accord was part of a global pedophile ring that cannibalizes slaughtered children—central elements of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory—my first response would be total confusion. Distrust alone wouldn’t come close to preparing me to hear those words. I’d have to hate him before I believed something so evil.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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