Presidential Twitter Insanity, January 2, 2018 – January 8, 2018

The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to (a) call for an aide to his former presidential rival to be jailed; (b) claim that companies are giving their employees bonuses because of the recent tax bill; (c) continue to use epithets such as “Crooked Hillary,” “Sloppy Steve,” and “Rocket Man” to describe foreign and domestic rivals; (d) claim credit for the fact that there were zero deaths in commercial aviation in 2017 (in fact, there have been no deaths in U.S. commercial aviation since 2009); (e) maintain the myth that the New York Times apologized for its coverage of his campaign in 2016 (it did not); (f) compare the size of his nuclear button to Kim Jong Un’s nuclear button (take that as you will); (g) announce, and later postpone, a “MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR”; (h) complain that the states refused to hand over confidential voter data because “they know that many people are voting illegally”; (i) take credit for talks between North and South Korea after his nuclear-button-size tweet; (j) tweet multiple times about a book featuring several unflattering direct quotes about him from members of his administration, thus ensuring it higher sales and more attention; (k) claim that collusion with Russia “is proving to be a total hoax” (the investigation has so far yielded two indictments and two guilty pleas); (l) attack a former member of his administration who appears to have cooperated with the aforementioned book; and (m) claim that “my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart” and anointing himself “a very stable genius.”

Source: the Presidential Twitter feed. Scroll to the appropriate dates.

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Trump on Tax Bill at Mar-a-Lago, December 23, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly told friends at Mar-a-Lago that they “just got a lot richer” because of his tax bill. The tax bill, you may remember, was ostensibly designed to provide tax relief to the middle class.

Source: CBS News.

Ivanka Trump on Tax Bill, December 21, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s daughter, a senior White House adviser, does not even know which year the Republican tax bill applies to (it will not affect the 2017 taxes filed in April 2018). In addition, it is unlikely that, as she stated, Americans will be filing taxes on a postcard, as the much-vaunted simplification didn’t really pan out.

Sources: Fox News.

Corker “Kickback”, December 17, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL to insert a provision into a tax bill at the last minute that will substantially personally benefit a single senator, who coincidentally happens to be the last vote needed to pass the bill. The senator in question insists that he did not know about the provision when he agreed to vote for the bill, because he agreed to vote for the bill without reading it first, which also strikes me as problematic.

Sources: MSNBC, the Tennessean.

 

Tax Bill Rushed into Senate, December 1, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL for the Senate to try to pass a bill that will have an enormous impact on the nation’s economy that has been written hastily, is still in flux, is riddled with loopholes, and has had no hearings. Remember that the Senate was intended by the Founders to be a deliberative body that would serve as a check on the House of Representatives. This is not the process that the Founders had in mind.

Update, December 5, 2017: Apparently the hasty process worked against the bill’s supporters, who effectively nullified the corporate tax cut by forgetting to change other provisions.

Sources: the Washington Post; The Hill; Vox.

 

No Treasury Analysis of Tax Bill, November 30, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL for the Secretary of the Treasury to promise that the Treasury department will release an analysis of the tax bill that will show how it will pay for itself, when the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, who are supposedly running the models, say that no such analysis exists or is in the process of being created.

Update: The Treasury Department’s inspector general has now opened an inquiry into the missing analysis.

Update, December 11, 2017: The Treasury Department has now released a one-page statement about its analysis of the tax bill. Unfortunately, although the statement refers to models, it provides no details about how the numbers in the analysis were generated.

Sources: The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times.