Trump Threatens To Pull The U.S. Out Of The World Trade Organization

Donald Trump on Sunday threatened to pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) if his plan to tax imports of U.S. companies that move their operations abroad is foiled.

The Republican presidential nominee called the international trade body a “disaster” and ratcheted up his anti-trade criticism in calling for the punishment of U.S. firms that move overseas.

He also doubled down on his push to either renegotiate or withdraw the United States from all of their global agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“There will be a tax to be paid,” Trump told Chuck Todd in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump has vowed to impose tariffs — in the range of 15 percent to 35 percent — on companies like Indiana-based Carrier, which is moving its operations to Mexico.

“If they’re going to fire all their people, move their plant to Mexico, build air conditioners, and think they’re going to sell those air conditioners to the United States, there’s going to be a tax,” he said.

When Todd said the import-tariff plan wouldn’t pass muster at the WTO, Trump said that is “even better.”

“Then we’re going to renegotiate or we’re going to pull out,” he said.

“These trade deals are a disaster,” he said. “You know, the World Trade Organization is a disaster.”

When Todd told Trump that his plan would rattle the world economy much like Great Britain’s exit from the European Union has done, the New York businessman didn’t retreat from his hard-line trade stance.

“We’re going to do it. We’re going to do it,” Trump said.

Ed Gerwin, a trade policy analyst with the Progressive Policy Institute, said Trump’s latest trade ideas, “even by his standards, are insane.”

“They would bring about unprecedented global economic chaos, plunge the U.S. into recession and destroy millions of good jobs,” Gerwin said. “They’d make Brexit look like an English garden party.”

Gerwin called Trump’s trade proposals “not only wrongheaded, but they’d be a bureaucratic nightmare.”

“Withdrawing from the WTO would turn the U.S. into the economic equivalent of North Korea — walled off from the global economy,” Gerwin said.

He added that any move to exit the trade body would allow 160 countries to “immediately slap high tariffs and other trade barriers on U.S. exports, putting at risk the millions of good jobs that depend on U.S. exports.”

A WTO exit also runs counter to Trump’s plans to punish China for trade violations, a big focus of the trade arm of his campaign, Gerwin noted.

“Withdrawing from the WTO would also cut the U.S. off from the WTO dispute settlement process, which the U.S. has used with considerable success to get China to change unfair trade practices,” he said.

“All of this is deeply ironic, given that Trump also says he wants to be tougher on China trade and given that Trump also says that he’d eliminate foreign duties on products like U.S. beef the day he gets into office,” he added.

Trade experts argue that raising taxes on companies or countries that Trump deems as violators of trade rules would only hurt U.S. consumers by pushing up prices on imported goods.

The comments created an instant backlash from trade experts on Twitter.

Scott Lincicome, a trade attorney, wrote: “I know trade is complicated, boring, & politically toxic, but Trump’s WTO threat is the econ equivalent of his NATO comments, maybe worse.”

In another tweet he said: “And, of course, withdrawing the US from the WTO would very likely collapse the global economy, crippling US biz, workers, consumers (esp poor).”

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

As president, Trump could not be able to create these tariffs by himself. Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, authorizes Congress to levy taxes. Most of Trump’s threatened tariffs would violate decades of binding trade deals negotiated by previous administrations and agreed to by previous Congresses. However rather than looking into the legality, we will instead explore Trumps question who should care if there is a trade war.

Trump proposed a 35% tariff on American companies who outsource manufacturing outside of the United States and then ship the products for sale back home. A tariff is a tax on an imported good that is passed on to consumers, both individual and businesses. That’s right, you the consumer will pay Trump’s 35% tax which means you will pay more for the products you buy every day.

For example Forbes estimates Trump’s tariff plan would cost American consumers an extra $6 billion dollars per year just on Apple iPhones alone.

Media

Trump: France and Germany May Face More Screening After Terror Attacks

Donald Trump said Sunday he would subject people from France, among other countries, to “extreme vetting” as they seek to enter the United States, a move he says is necessary to deter terror attacks.

The GOP presidential nominee, in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” was asked if his proposal might mean that ultimately far fewer people from overseas would be allowed into the U.S.

“Maybe we get to that point,” Trump replied, adding: “We have to be smart and we have to be vigilant and we have to be strong.”

For months Trump has called for a temporary ban on foreign Muslims seeking to enter the United States and criticized the Obama administration for continuing to admit refugees from Syria. In his speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention, he said the U.S. “must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place” — notably leaving out any reference to Muslims or to Syria, Iraq and other Mideast nations.

In the NBC interview, Trump noted “specific problems” in Germany and France — both countries have been rocked by fatal attacks in public places in recent weeks — and “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked if his proposal would limit immigration from France. “They’ve been compromised by terrorism,” Todd said.

Trump replied: “They have totally been. And you know why? It’s their own fault. Because they allowed people to come into their territory.” He then called for “extreme vetting” and said: “We have to have tough, we’re going to have tough standards. … If a person can’t prove what they have to be able to prove, they’re not coming into this country.”

(h/t Fox News, Yahoo)

Media

Judge Orders Trump to Pay Nearly $300,000 in Attorney’s Fees in Doral Painter’s Lawsuit

While developer Donald Trump was busy getting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination this week, he was losing big in a Miami-Dade County courtroom.

Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto, presiding over a lawsuit related to unpaid bills brought by a local paint store against the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort, ordered the billionaire politician’s company to pay the Doral-based mom-and-pop shop nearly $300,000 in attorney’s fees.

All because, according to the lawsuit, Trump allegedly tried to stiff The Paint Spot on its last payment of $34,863 on a $200,000 contract for paint used in the renovation of the home of golf’s famed Blue Monster two years ago.

Trump National’s insistence that it had “paid enough” for the paint despite a contract, according to the lawsuit, caused The Paint Spot to slap a lien on the property and Cueto to order the foreclosure sale of the resort.

In time, Donald Trump’s company got the judge to cancel the June 28 courthouse auction after it placed the $34,000 in escrow, and the case was put on hold while Trump National’s owner, Trump Endeavor, considered an appeal.

But the lien remained.

And Cueto was asked to rule on the fees for The Paint Spot’s three $500-an-hour attorneys and two $150-an-hour paralegals that lawsuit loser Trump Endeavor will have to pay.

The golf company, according to the court file, objected to the hourly rates because it paid its lawyers $400 an hour, according to court records.

This week, Cueto ruled that the fees were reasonable, and then some.

First, he ruled Trump should pay for nearly 500 hours of legal work, since the store’s legal team had to prepare for a trial that never took place.

Then, Cueto tacked on a 75 percent “risk” fee, partly because the store’s lawyers took the risk that they would never be paid if they lost.

Total: $282,949 and 91 cents, including copying and expert testimony.

“I’m happy I have a judgment,” said Juan Carlos Enriquez, owner of The Paint Spot. “But he [Trump] hasn’t paid yet.

“You know how he says he’ll surround himself with the greatest people if he is president? In this case, he might not be surrounded by the right people.”

Trump bought the property in 2012 for $150 million then launched into a major renovation.

Alan Garten, Trump’s in-house lawyer, didn’t return a call for comment.

(h/t The Miami Herald)

Update

Trump appealed but a state appeals court in Florida on Thursday affirmed a circuit court’s decision to order Trump National Doral Miami golf resort to pay a small paint company and its attorney hundreds of thousands of dollars after failing to pay a tenth of that for paint and other materials during a renovation project.

Trump To Pay Thousands For Retaliating Against Workers On Day He Accepts The GOP Nomination

Just a few hours before he officially accepts the presidential nomination of the Republican party, Donald Trump agreed to pay a $11,200 federal settlement for retaliating against workers who voted to unionize at his eponymous Las Vegas hotel.

Trump, who claims he “never settles” when sued, agreed to pay the workers after the National Labor Relations Board found that Trump’s corporation had unfairly challenged the union vote and illegally retaliated against the workers who led the organization effort. Trump must now pay back wages to two workers, one of whom the hotel fired and another who was denied a promotion for convincing her 500-plus co-workers to join the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas. Under the terms of the settlement, Trump did not admit breaking federal labor laws.

Workers at the hotel told reports at the LA Times that the Trump corporation threatened and intimidated them in the lead up to the union vote.

Trump co-owns the Vegas hotel with mogul Phil Ruffin, who took the podium Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to extol Trump’s virtues as a boss.

“As a result of his vision, he’s put tens of thousands of American workers to work,” Ruffin said. “And these are high-paid jobs.”

But the workers employed at Trump’s Vegas hotel tell a different story.

Trump hotel housekeeper Maria Jaramillo told ThinkProgress in February that she is paid much less and has much fewer health benefits than workers at other hotels on the Las Vegas Strip.

“At Mandalay Bay I had health insurance for free, a retirement [account], every year I got a raise, I got holiday pay,” she said, explaining that she left that job to raise her children and couldn’t get it back. “Over here [at Trump International] we don’t get an [annual] raise, we have to pay for our insurance, and we have no retirement. It’s a big difference. I’m not making enough to give my kids a better future.”

The Trump International Hotel pays its workers, on average, $3 an hour less than the city’s other hotels. And while the company was forced by the National Labor Relations Board to recognize the union earlier this year, they have so far refused to begin negotiating a contract.

“We deserve one. We’re not second-class workers,” Jaramillo said.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has pitched himself as a friend of the working class, mainly by promising to stop the outsourcing of jobs to other countries. Yet that message may not be resonating in Cleveland, the host city of the RNC.

A group of local workers gathered on the eve of the convention on Sunday to denounce Trump’s record of repeatedly refusing to pay workers and contractors he has hired, of opposing a raise in the federal minimum wage, and of fighting workers’ attempts to organize.

“We’ve all heard Mr. Trump’s appeals to working people,” said Mike Kilbane, a lifelong Cleveland resident and construction worker. “But it’s a ruse, a smokescreen. It’s faux populism, a sad attempt to divide the working class in this country.”

Citing Trump’s dealings with his workers in Las Vegas and elsewhere, Kilbane continued: “This man is a card-carrying member of the ruling class, someone who has known privilege and entitlement his entire life. He puts his own personal gain and profit over any other consideration, and he’ll do anything to make sure it continues.”

(h/t Think Progress)

Links

Culinary Workers Union 226 article.

Trump Remarks on NATO Trigger Alarm Bells in Europe

Donald Trump set off alarm bells in European capitals after suggesting he might not honor the core tenet of the NATO military alliance.

Trump said the U.S. would not necessarily defend new NATO members in the Baltics in the event of Russian attack if he were elected to the White House.

He told The New York Times in an interview published Thursday that doing so would depend on whether those countries had “fulfilled their obligations to us” in terms of their financial contributions to the alliance.

“You can’t forget the bills,” Trump told the paper. “They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that.”

(h/t NBC News)

Reality

NATO is not just a defensive military alliance against a Russia that looks to expand, but it is also a projection of American influence in Europe. Some, like Trump, may take NATO for granted now but just 2 years prior Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from southern Ukraine.

Trump’s comments were perceived by some analysts as carte blanche for Russia to intimidate NATO allies and a potential harbinger of the alliance’s collapse, which would be a global crisis, were Trump to be elected.

NATO’s treaty states that an attack on one member state constitutes an attack on all, a principle enshrined in Article 5 of the alliance’s treaty.

“If Trump wants to put conditions through Article 5, he would endanger the whole alliance,” said Beyza Unal, a fellow at the London-based Chatham House think tank.

Sarah Lain, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, agreed. She said that Article 5 is the “core” of NATO’s defense strategy.

“The suggestion that Trump may consider abandoning a guarantee of protection to fellow NATO countries would in some ways indeed make NATO obsolete,” Lain told NBC News in an email.

Responses

In an interview with the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump’s comments a “rookie mistake.”

“I am willing to kind of chalk it up to a rookie mistake,” he said. “I don’t think there is anybody he would choose to be secretary of defense or secretary of state who would have a different view from my own.”

Two additional Senate Republicans, neither of whom is attending this week’s Republican National Convention, condemned his comments, suggesting Congress would not follow his lead on the issue if he is commander-in-chief.

“As [Russian President Vladimir] Putin revives Soviet-style aggression and the threat of violent Islam looms over European and American cities, the United States stands with our NATO allies,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., one of the most vocal elected officials in the never-Trump movement, said in a statement.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s former Republican primary opponents, accused him of appeasing the Russian president with his assertions.

“I can only imagine how our allies in NATO, particularly the Balkan states, must feel after reading these comments from Mr. Trump. I’m 100 percent certain how Russian President Putin feels — he’s a very happy man,” Graham said.

“If Mr. Trump is serious about wanting to be commander-in-chief, he needs to better understand the job, which is to provide leadership for the United States and the free world,” Graham continued, also calling for Trump to “correct” his statements during his prime-time address Thursday evening.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, a former Air Force pilot, told ABC News he was deeply disturbed by Trump’s comments about NATO.

“To protect American first you have to have strong alliances,” he said. “This alliance has prevented 60 years of war.”

Trump’s comments, Kinzinger added, were “ridiculous and reckless,” and suggest that Trump doesn’t understand foreign policy.

Members of the Democratic Party also slammed Trump’s remarks, accusing him of friendliness with the same unsavory leaders with whom Republicans have accused President Barack Obama of being too conciliatory.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest noted that Republicans have long accused Obama of going on a “global apology tour.”

“I guess that means that there is some irony associated with the case that’s being made by the Republican nominee at this point,” Earnest said.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign condemned Trump’s remarks, also accusing him of cozying up to Putin.

“Over the course of this campaign, Trump has displayed a bizarre and occasionally obsequious fascination with Russia’s strongman, Vladimir Putin. And he has policy positions — and advisers — to match,” Clinton senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said, citing a Washington Post report that Trump staffers persuaded convention delegates to strip language from the GOP platform that would have called for “providing lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military.

The White House has declined to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons, but mainstream Republicans have long called for the president to do so.

“Just this week, we learned that the Trump campaign went to great lengths to remove a plank from the GOP platform about aid to Ukraine that would have offended Putin, bucking a strongly held position within his own party … It is fair to assume that Vladimir Putin is rooting for a Trump presidency.”

Kingzinger, who isn’t sure if he’ll support Trump and has frequently criticized Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements, called the platform change “curious for sure.”

Although NATO does not frequently comment on issues related to member nations’ domestic politics, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, weighed in on Trump’s comments, defending European allies’ contributions to NATO while avoiding commenting on the election directly.

“European allies are also stepping up,” he said. “For the first time in many years, defense spending among European allies and Canada rose last year.”

Secretary of State John Kerry was also pulled in to the fracas Thursday, fielding a question about Trump’s comments at a press conference at the State Department.

Prefacing his comments by saying he wasn’t making a statement about the presidential race, Kerry said he would restate American policy towards NATO.

“This administration, like every administration Republican and Democrat alike since 1949, remains fully committed to the NATO alliance and to our security commitments under Article 5, which is absolutely bedrock to our membership and to our partnership with NATO.”

Trump was also questioned about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the failed military coup, and told the New York Times that the United States has “a lot of problems.”

“Our nominee is making the same arguments you hear in Russian propaganda and that you hear from left-wing liberals,” Kinzinger said of Trump’s criticisms.

Links

Quick history of NATO.

Why is NATO still needed, even after the downfall of the Soviet Union?

Trump Repeats Debunked Facts During Dark RNC Speech

In accepting his party’s nomination for president, Donald Trump said “here, at our convention, there will be no lies.” But we found plenty of instances where Trump twisted facts or made false claims.

Reality

2nd Amendment

TRUMP: My opponent wants to essentially abolish the 2nd amendment.

THE FACTS: Clinton has proposed gun regulations, like background checks to purchase firearms. Yet the 2008 Supreme Court decision protecting and individual’s right to possess firearms also stated that the right isn’t unlimited — and can be subjected to regulations. (NBC)

Crime

TRUMP: Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.

THE FACTS: Trump is correct that there has recently been an uptick in crime, including in some (but not all) of America’s largest cities, but he is cherry-picking.

The country has essentially halved its national homicide rate since 1991. Overall, violent crime is down significantly since the 1980s and 1990s, according to FBI statistics.

The current violent crime rate is lower today per the most recent data (365 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 people) than when President Obama first took office in 2009 (431 incidents per 100,000 people). (NBC) (Wonkblog)

Crime in Baltimore

TRUMP: In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.

THE FACTS: Those statistics are based on an analysis performed by The Washington Post, which found no clear pattern in which cities saw increases in homicides. (NY Times)

Crime in Chicago

TRUMP: In the president’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office.

THE FACTS: Nearly 60% of guns involved in Chicago crimes were purchased outside the state of Illinois. Twenty percent of those were purchased next door, in Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana. (Quartz)

Hillary Clinton Email Scandal

TRUMP: And when a secretary of state illegally stores her emails on a private server, deletes 33,000 of them so the authorities can’t see her crime, puts our country at risk, lies about it in every different form and faces no consequence – I know that corruption has reached a level like never before.

THE FACTS: Trump twisted the facts when he said that Clinton “illegally” stored emails on her private server while secretary of state, and deleted 33,000 of them “so the authorities can’t see her crime.” The FBI on July 5 cleared Clinton of wrongdoing, and found no evidence of a cover-up. (FactCheck.org)

Immigration

TRUMP: The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015.

THE FACTS: That statistic is true, but it’s also a bit of cherry-picking. In Fiscal Year 2014, there were more than 68,000 apprehensions of immigrant families crossing the border. That number declined to 40,000 in Fiscal Year 2015. In Fiscal Year 2016 (which ends in September), the number stands at 51,000 — so higher than in 2015, but lower than 2014 (see here and here). (NBC)

Immigration Crime

TRUMP: Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.

THE FACTS: Those numbers come from a report by the Department of Homeland Security, which told Congress late last year that nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants have been ordered deported but remain in the country. Mr. Trump did not mention that most of those 180,000 are likely people charged with nonviolent crimes.

TRUMP: Where was sanctuary for all the other … Americans who have been so brutally murdered [by undocumented immigrants], and who have suffered so, so horribly?

THE FACTS: Researchers have found that first-generation immigrants (legal or not) commit less crime than native-born Americans or second-generation immigrants. (NBC)

Iran Deal

TRUMP: We all remember the images of our sailors being forced to their knees by their Iranian captors at gunpoint. This was just prior to the signing of the Iran deal.

THE FACTS: It actually came AFTER the signing of the Iran deal, which happened on July 14, 2015. The sailors were captured in Jan. 2016 — right before President Obama’s State of the Union address. (NBC)

TRUMP: Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons.

At the time of the deal, Iran was already on a path to acquiring nuclear weapons.

Prior to the agreement, the breakout time was thought to be months, but now it is more than a year for at least 10 years, as the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service explains in its May report “Iran Nuclear Agreement.” (FactCheck.org)

Libya Regime Change

TRUMP: We must abandon the failed policy of nation-building and regime change that Hillary Clinton pushed in Iraq, Libya, in Egypt, and Syria.

THE FACTS: Trump criticized Clinton for her “failed policy of nation-building and regime change” and he counted Libya among them. Left unsaid was that Trump also supported the military ouster of Moammar Gadhafi at that time.

In a video posted to his YouTube channel in February 2011, Trump stated, “We should do it on a humanitarian basis. Immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively and save the lives.” (FactCheck.org)

National Debt

TRUMP: President Obama has almost doubled our national debt to more than 19 trillion dollars, and growing.

THE FACTS: He’s right. When Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the public debt stood at $10.6 trillion. It is now $19.4 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Obamacare

TRUMP: We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. You will be able to choose your own doctor again.

Trump used a popular false talking point about the Affordable Care Act when he said that he’d repeal it and “you will be able to choose your own doctor again.” The law didn’t take away the ability to choose a doctor.

The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, expanded Medicaid but also expanded private insurance coverage. And as most Americans know — since 55 percent have private insurance — the insurers usually have a network of doctors to choose from. The Affordable Care Act didn’t change that.

Police Killed in Line of Duty

TRUMP: The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50% compared to this point last year.

THE FACTS: This is a tragic stat which is why Trump should not be dishonest with these figures. The number of officers killed in the line of duty has not changed compared to last year.

The Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks officer deaths, reports that 68 police officers have been killed so far this year, almost exactly the same as the 69 who were killed in the same period last year. (NY Times)

Poverty

TRUMP: Nearly four in 10 African-American children are living in poverty, while 58 percent of African-American youth are now not employed. Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when the President took his oath of office less than eight years ago.

THE FACTS: Yes, 38 percent of African American children are living in poverty, according to Census data. But Trump isn’t correct that 58 percent of African American youth are unemployed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the African American unemployment rate for those ages 16-19 is 28.4 percent (versus 16.9 percent for all youth that age). And Trump is misleading on his claim about Latinos living in poverty. In 2009, 12.3 million Latinos were living in poverty (with a rate of 25.3 percent). In 2014, the number jumped to 13 million — but the rate actually DECLINED to 23.6 percent. (NBC)

Refugees

TRUMP: My opponent has called for a radical 550 percent increase in Syrian refugees on top of existing massive refugee flows coming into our country under President Obama. She proposes this despite the fact that there’s no way to screen these refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from. I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people.

THE FACTS: While criticizing Hillary Clinton’s support for admitting more Syrian refugees to the U.S., Trump said that “there’s no way to screen” those refugees to determine “who they are or where they come from.” That’s false. All refugees admitted to the U.S. go through an extensive vetting process that involves multiple federal agencies and can take up to 24 months to complete. (FactCheck.org)

Regulations

TRUMP: Then we are going to deal with the issue of regulation, one of the greatest job-killers of them all. Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion a year, and we will end it.

Trump repeated an overstatement on the costs of regulation — a claim we heard on the second day of the convention from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. Trump said that “excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion a year,” but that figure comes from a conservative group’s admitted “back-of-the-envelope” calculation and is an estimate of regulatory costs that does not include potential savings.

The calculation comes from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a staunch opponent of government over-regulation. In the report, “Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State,” author Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. calculates the 2013 cost of federal regulatory compliance at nearly $1.9 trillion.

That figure is based on the Office of Management and Budget’s annual reports to Congress on the benefits and costs of federal regulation. The problem is that the Competitive Enterprise report focused on the “costs” and ignored the “benefits” listed in those reports. That tells only half the story. (FactCheck.org)

Tax Reform

TRUMP: While Hillary Clinton plans a massive tax increase, I have proposed the largest tax reduction of any candidate who has declared for the presidential race this year – Democrat or Republican. Middle-income Americans will experience profound relief, and taxes will be simplified for everyone.

THE FACTS: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and The Tax Foundation reached a similar conclusion about Clinton’s tax plan. Nearly all of the tax increases would fall on the top 1 percent; the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers would see little or no change in their taxes.

On the flip-side, Trump’s tax plan includes tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich (like Trump) and there is no possible world where the revenue from his proposed new taxes could make up for the tax cuts. Not by a long shot.

As we already reviewed, estimates of Trump’s proposal would reduce federal revenue by $9.5 trillion over its first decade and reduce an additional $15.0 trillion over the subsequent 10 years causing massive cuts to every government program. (FactCheck.org)

Trade

TRUMP: [Hillary Clinton] supported NAFTA, and she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization — another one of her husband’s colossal mistakes and disasters … She supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

THE FACTS: This is not entirely true. Trump is correct that Clinton backed NAFTA and China’s entry into the WTO, which took place while her husband was president. Yet although touting the TPP trade agreement while she served as secretary of state, Clinton has since opposed the measure. Notably, Trump’s vice-presidential running mate Mike Pence also has praised NAFTA and TPP. (NBC)

Trump Changes Republican Platform From Helping Ukraine against Russia, Spurring Outrage

For decades, Republican doctrine has viewed Russia as a power to mistrust. But in Donald Trump’s GOP, Moscow’s sins seem to matter less.

The platform written at the GOP convention in Cleveland this week eliminated references to arming Ukraine in its fight with Russia, which seized the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has supported separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Many in the party’s foreign policy establishment are outraged.

They note that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had worked as a consultant for the now-ousted pro-Russian government in Ukraine.

Trump’s investments in hotels, golf courses and other business interests overseas already have raised concerns of potential conflicts of interest with U.S. policy if he is elected.

Originally, the GOP platform was to call for providing Ukraine with weapons in addition to the substantial non-lethal aid the U.S. already provides, according to congressional reports.

After Trump surrogates reportedly intervened, the final passage supports “providing appropriate assistance” to Ukraine, but doesn’t mention providing arms to the government in Kiev.

Charlie Black, a longtime Republican strategist, said the change was “most unusual.”

“Virtually every Republican in Congress voted to provide defensive arms to Ukraine and they still support it,” said Black, now chairman of Prime Policy Group, a government relations firm.  “This puts the platform on the side of the Obama administration and its weak response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

Although Obama’s advisors have debated whether to provide weapons to help Kiev battle the Russian-backed forces, the president has declined to do so.

The war has largely stalemated over the past year. Moreover, Ukraine is not a member of NATO and the U.S. has no treaty obligations to help defend it.

White House aides fear that sending U.S. arms into the war would further inflame tensions with Moscow.

That may be Trump’s worry as well.

He has lavished praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen as an autocratic bully in much of the world, and welcomed Putin’s quasi-endorsement of his candidacy. Trump apparently admires Putin’s strongman image and willingness to crush opponents, dissidents and critical journalists.

Manafort also had a direct interest in Ukraine.

As a crisis public relations manager, Manafort had clients that included the Russian-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, who was driven from power in 2014 amid corruption scandals and violent demonstrations. He fled to Russia.

Manafort worked on Yanukovich’s election campaign in 2009. Yanukovich’s opponent, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, had hired Jeff Link, a Democratic strategist from Iowa.

Link says the Yanukovich campaign was virulently anti-West, anti-NATO and pro-Russia.

“What I kept thinking about was how Manafort and his team were supposed to be the Reagan guys, Reagan who stood up to the Soviet Union,” Link said in a telephone interview. “And now here they were working for Putin’s candidate for Ukraine.”

Manafort was asked about the GOP platform language on Ukraine during a news conference in Cleveland, but he deflected the question, saying only that the worlds needs a “strong U.S. presence.”

As with Ukraine, Trump’s foreign policy positions are more isolationist that Republicans traditionally embrace.

He doubled-down on that approach Wednesday when he told the New York Times he would not necessarily defend fellow NATO members in the Baltic region if they are threatened Russia.

Trump also said he would not call on authoritarian leaders, like the president of Turkey, to respect the rule of law and human rights as they crack down on opponents.

Those represent sharp departures from U.S. policy and recent GOP positions and sparked immediate concerns that Trump would abandon treaty commitments to allies.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is not attending the convention in his home state, was among the Republicans who slammed Trump’s comments.

“We think NATO doesn’t matter? Are we kidding?” Kasich said to the International Republican Institute. He vowed to support arming Ukraine “as long as I’m breathing” and said changing the platform was “a terrible mistake.”

Paul Saunders, executive director of the Washington-based Center for the National Interest, said a wing of the GOP has always sought to avoid international conflicts absent a direct U.S. interest.

He noted that Reagan and President Nixon, two Republicans who were toughest on Moscow during the Cold War, ultimately negotiated with the Soviet Union.

But Trump’s proposals suggested a clear break to their strategy.

“This is certainly a very significant change,” Saunders said, “and clearly reflects a very different approach to foreign policy.”

(h/t Los Angeles Times)

Reality

First we require a little context.

Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has since veered between seeking closer integration with Western Europe and being drawn into the orbit of Russia, which sees its interests as threatened by a Western-leaning Ukraine.

During this time however, Russians never thought of Ukrainians as a separate entity from them, but considered them as fellow Russians. And Moscow loved having a pro-Russian country acting as a buffer between Russia and western NATO countries.

However inside Ukraine massive corruption was the status quo, from the bottom of the government to the very top.

Then Ukraine became gripped by unrest when President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in 2013. An organized political movement known as ‘Euromaidan‘ demanded closer ties with the European Union, and the ousting of Yanukovych. This movement was ultimately successful, culminating in the February 2014 revolution, which removed Yanukovych and his government. However, some people in largely Russophone eastern and southern Ukraine, the traditional bases of support for Yanukovych and his Party of the Regions, did not approve of the revolution, and began to protest in favor of closer ties with Russia. Various demonstrations were held in Crimea in favor of leaving Ukraine and accession to the Russian Federation, leading to the 2014 Crimean crisis and the continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

Several times Ukraine has attempted to join NATO membership, and has either been voted down from NATO members or from pro-Russian opposition in Ukraine.

One of the key foreign policy positions on both Republican and Democratic platforms was a stronger and pro-western Ukraine. That is until Donald Trump.

Make no mistake, Donald Trump has taken a very pro-Russian stance on Ukraine.

A White Supremacist Trump Delegate Tweets Racial Slur While at RNC

An elected Trump delegate from Chicago known for months to be a white supremacist has had her credentials stripped by the Illinois Republican party after posting a racial slur to Facebook and making “threats of violence” against black people.

Lori Gayne, a Chicago-area mortgage banker, was attending the Republican National Convention and posted a photo on Sunday night of police officers standing on the roof of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where an opening party was taking place. She wrote the following caption, indicating that cops were prepared to shoot black protesters:

“Our brave snipers just waiting for some “n—- to try something. Love them.”

The Chicago Sun Times reported that she had used an abbreviation for the racial slur.

Gayne admitted to party officials and reporters that she authored the abhorrent post and later apologized in a statement.

“I strongly regret the offensive statements I recently made on social media. While I in no way intended to make racist or threatening statements, I now realize that they could be interpreted that way,” she said.

Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider revoked Gayne’s credentials as a RNC delegate and told the Sun-Times that the party “has zero tolerance for racism of any kind and threats of violence against anyone.”

Gayne was elected in March’s Illinois Republican Primary as a Trump delegate for the 5th Congressional District and was identified as early as May for her white-power loving social media posts under the Twitter handle “whitepride.”

In an interview with Chicago Tribune in May, Gayne said the following:

“With all the racism going on today, I’m very proud to be white. Just like black people are proud to be black and now, as white people, whenever we say something critical we’re punished as if we’re racists. I’m tired of it. I’m very proud,” Gayne said.

“I’m so angry I don’t even feel like I live in America. You can call me a racist. Black Lives Matter? Those people are out of control,” she said.

She used other social media accounts under different names to attack Muslims, the Tribune reported.

Gayne is not even the first Trump delegate to tout white supremacy.

Los Angeles doctor William Johnson resigned in May after Mother Jones revealed that he was the leader of the white nationalist American Freedom Party.

A day later, anti-Muslim pastor and fellow California delegate Guy St.-Onge resigned after racist social media posts surfaced, including “Barack Hussein Obama and his tranny wife Michelle hate the USA!”

The AFP claims that there are even more of its members who are delegates but have declined to identify them, Mother Jones reported.

Trump has also garnered the support of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and former Louisiana lawmaker David Duke, who said in February that it would be treason to white voters’ heritage to not cast a vote for the real estate magnate.

(h/t New York Daily News)

 

Former Ghostwriter Sued by Trump Shortly After Making Critical Comments

The ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal” reveals he has received a cease and desist letter from the Republican presidential nominee following an interview with The New Yorker where he made unflattering comments about the billionaire, such as calling him a “sociopath” and describing as having “no attention span.”

“Yes, it is true. I got almost immediately this cease and desist letter delivered to me by FedEx and it’s nuts, and completely indicative of who he is,” Tony Schwartz told MSNBC.

Schwartz said the letter wanted him to return all the royalty payments he made from the book.

In an interview with The New Yorker, the writer said he put “lipstick on a pig” over a mythical figure in Trump he helped to create in the memoir.

“I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is,” Schwartz told The New Yorker. “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

Schwartz told MSNBC that there was “no basis in anything legal” in the letter.

“I suspect Donald Trump called up his chief legal person and said, ‘Go after that guy and do whatever you have to do.’ So this poor head of legal affairs for the Trump organization had to concoct some … stuff about most of which is untrue,” he said.

He continued, “So, for example, this notion I didn’t write the book is so preposterous. I am not certain Donald Trump read every word, but I’m sure certain I wrote every word. He made a few red marks on the manuscript and sent it back to me and the rest was history. The idea that he would dispute that is part of why I felt I had to come forward, the notion that if he could lie about that, he could lie about anything.”

Howard Kaminsky, the former head of Random House, which published “The Art of the Deal,” agreed with Schwartz’s statements.

“Trump didn’t write a postcard for us!” he told The New Yorker.

(h/t CBS)

Media

Secret Service Investigating Trump Adviser Who Said Hillary Clinton Should Be ‘Shot for Treason’

An adviser to Donald Trump on veterans issues said that Hillary Clinton should be put in a firing line and shot for treason.

New Hampshire state representative Al Baldasaro, who is also a Trump delegate from the state and has appeared with Trump at campaign events, made the comments on the Jeff Kuhner Show.

“I’m a veteran that went to Desert Shield, Desert Storm. I’m also a father who sent a son to war, to Iraq, as a Marine Corps helicopter avionics technician. Hillary Clinton to me is the Jane Fonda of the Vietnam,” he said. “She is a disgrace for the lies that she told those mothers about their children that got killed over there in Benghazi. She dropped the ball on over 400 emails requesting back up security. Something’s wrong there.”

“This whole thing disgusts me, Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” he added.

Baldasaro has spoken at several Trump events, introducing Trump multiple times, including at an event in late May where he admonished the media for focusing on questions over Trump’s donations to veteran’s charities.

He later added in the radio interview that Clinton was a “piece of garbage.”

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Boston Globe followed up with Baldasaro after BuzzFeed News’ report and he said he stood by his comments.

Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks told NH1 News, “We’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.”

As first reported by The Daily Beast, the Secret Service is investigating Baldasaro’s comments.

“The U.S. Secret Service is aware of this matter and will conduct the appropriate investigation,” a Secret Service spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

(h/t BuzzFeed)

Reality

From promising to help defend supporters who beat up protesters in court, paying for their legal fees, to his campaign manager manhandling a protester, Donald Trump and his campaign has had a long history of supporting violence against those who disagree with them.

Republicans lead one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history. In June, 2016, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report, finding no evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.

While there is no dispute that security was inadequate in Benghazi and that the State Department failed to respond to all requests for security, the total number of security requests cited by Mr. Baldasaro and others in the right-wing media has long been debunked as misleading.

Media

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