Category Archives: Donald Trump

Trump Hosts Bipartisan Meeting on Resolving DACA, Immigration Conundrum: ‘I’ll Sign Anything’

Faces of immigrants make up the American flag © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

[Note: In an unprecedented action, the White House originally sent out a transcript in which Donald Trump’s statement, in which he seemed to agree with Senator Feinstein on passing a “clean DACA” was modified. When the change was discovered, the White House sent out a corrected transcript.]

Donald Trump may think that his bipartisan meeting on resolving the DACA issue went swimmingly, but it is not at all clear that the Republicans and Democrats can come together on a clean DACA fix, with or without the “security” elements (which Trump understands to mean a wall but Congress seems to acknowledge means a range of solutions) by  March 5th, the date that Trump himself set as the expiration of protections for Dreamers, much less by January 19th, the date when government could shut down if the budget resolution is not adopted.

[Adding to the drama, a federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction late Tuesday ordering the Trump administration to restart the DACA program because the way it was ended  “arbitrarily: and “capriciously” and questioned the contention that Obama did not have the authority to implement it to begin with.]

Still, the to-and-fro was eerily civil – probably because the worst hard-liners were left off the guest-list and the Congressmembers in the room were for the most part were veterans of years of negotiating immigration reform.

There was no discussion of making legal immigration actually work – having enough immigration judges to hear applications, giving parents of legal American children a means toward a legal status.

But in the end, Trump said he would sign whatever Congress came up with – a clear display that he does not actually care or have a grasp of policy. He contradicted himself numerous times, and went back-and-forth seeming to agree with whoever was speaking. He even seemed to moderate his concept of what a “wall” – “a great, beautiful wall” – would be, appearing to agree with Democrats that “wall” was a metaphor for border security, not one contiguous structure like the Great Wall of China, but fencing, mountains, rivers. But he insisted he could build it for less money and ahead of schedule than what is being proposed ($18 Billion is requested; estimates go as high as $45 billion), like Wolman ice rink in Central Park. No different than that. Indeed, throughout, Trump kept suggesting that it was a “simple” matter to solve immigration.

It should be – 86 percent of Americans favor a fix for DACA, and the vast majority support immigration reform. Yet just a few days after Trump appeared to come to agreement with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on DACA, for which Trump received rare praise, he hardened his line because of the reaction of the hardliners who are his base. There was universal wonder whether that would happen again.

And it is really interesting that the very day this civilized discussion of a “bill of love”, as Trump termed a DACA fix, was taking place, the Trump Administration announced it was kicking out some 200,000 Salvadorans, along with hundreds of thousands of Haitians and Nicaraguans, who had come here after some disaster as much as 20 years ago, who have children who are American citizens.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Trump’s tone was calm, even conciliatory – politely calling on the Senators and Representatives, not insulting Democrats and especially Democratic women – even urging the sides to come together, go out to dinner, bury the hatchets – a clear effort to counter the image that emerges from Michael Wolff’s inflammatory “Fire and Fury”. Trump only veered off topic a few times – notably, in extolling the virtues of bringing back earmarks as the best tool for forging (buying) compromise (whereas now, there is no incentive), and the need to build up the military.

The exchanges are rather extraordinary – most notably because the press was not thrown out after the photo op, but were allowed to listen in for 55 minutes.

Most astonishing was the comment by Senator Charles Grassley that he would support a pathway to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration reform. (A bill that had all the elements currently being discussed was passed 68-32 in the Senate in 2013, only to be tabled and effectively killed in the Republican-controlled House, leading President Obama to adopt DACA provision rather than have no action at all. That sparked the controversy that Obama trespassed into territory that belonged to Congress, even though Congress had abdicated its role. But there is no such criticism of Trump who through executive orders and administrative policy is defying the Affordable Care Act in an effort to sabotage Obamacare into oblivion.)

The climax to the bipartisan meeting – considered extraordinary for being bipartisan after an entire year of Republicans acting on their own, deliberately excluding Democrats on significant issues including health care and tax reform – was Trump’s reply to what sounded like a plea from Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been working on immigration for a decade, “If you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat,” POTUS said. “You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.”

Here is a highlighted (and corrected) transcript — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

IN MEETING WITH BIPARTISAN MEMBERS

OF CONGRESS ON IMMIGRATION

Cabinet Room

 

11:39 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everyone, for being here.  I’m thrilled to be with a distinguished group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers from both the House and the Senate.  We have something in common, we’d like to see this get done, and you know what this means.

We are here today to advance bipartisan immigration reform that serves the needs of the American families, workers, and taxpayers.  It’s DACA.  We’ve been talking about DACA for a long time.  I’ve been hearing about it for years, long before I decided to go into this particular line of work.  And maybe we can do something.

We have a lot of good people in this room.  A lot of people that have a great spirit for taking care of the people we represent — we all represent.  For that reason, any legislation on DACA, we feel — at least a strong part of this group feels — has to accomplish three vital goals.

And Chairman Goodlatte will be submitting a bill over the next two to three days that will cover many of the things.  And, obviously, that will — if it gets passed, it will go to the Senate and we can negotiate and we’ll see how it turns out.  But I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital because it should be a bipartisan bill.  It should be a bill of love.  Truly, it should be a bill of love, and we can do that.

But it also has to be a bill where we’re able to secure our border.  Drugs are pouring into our country at a record pace and a lot of people are coming in that we can’t have.  We’ve greatly stiffened, as you know, and fewer people are trying to come in.

But we have tremendous numbers of people and drugs pouring into our country.

So, in order to secure it, we need a wall.  We need closing enforcement — we have to close enforcement loopholes.  Give immigration officers — and these are tremendous people, the border security agents, the ICE agents — we have to give them the equipment they need, we have to close loopholes, and this really does include a very strong amount of different things for border security.  

I think everybody in the room would agree to that.  I think that we — it’s a question of the amounts.  But I think everyone agrees we have to have border security.  I don’t think there would be anybody that says “no.”

Second, it has to be a bill to end chain migration.  Chain migration is bringing in many, many people with one, and often it doesn’t work out very well.  Those many people are not doing us right.  And I think a lot of people in the room — and I’m not sure I can speak for everybody, but a lot of the people in this room want to see chain migration ended.

And we have a recent case along the West Side Highway, having to do with chain migration, where a man ran over — killed eight people and many people injured badly.  Loss of arms, loss of legs.  Horrible thing happened, and then you look at the chain and all of the people that came in because of him.  Terrible situation.

[False: Had nothing to do with chain migration]  

And the other is — cancel the lottery program.  They call it “visa lottery,” I just call it “lottery.”  But countries come in and they put names in a hopper.  They’re not giving you their best names; common sense means they’re not giving you their best names.  They’re giving you people that they don’t want.  And then we take them out of the lottery.  And when they do it by hand — where they put the hand in a bowl — they’re probably — what’s in their hand are the worst of the worst.  

[False. Not how visa lottery works. People in visa lottery are vetted.] 

But they put people that they don’t want into a lottery and the United States takes those people.  And again, they’re going back to that same person who came in through the lottery program.  They went — they visited his neighborhood and the people in the neighborhood said, “oh my God, we suffered with this man — the rudeness, the horrible way he treated us right from the beginning.”  So we don’t want the lottery system or the visa lottery system.  We want it ended. 

So those three things are paramountThese are measures that will make our community safer and more prosperous.  These reforms are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans.  They’re from every standpoint, from every poll, and they’re being requested by law enforcement officers. 

I had the big meeting with ICE last week; I had a big meeting with the Border Patrol agents last week.  Nobody knows it better than them.  As an example, on the wall, they say, “sir, we desperately need the wall.”

And we don’t need a 2,000-mile wall.  We don’t need a wall where you have rivers and mountains and everything else protecting it.  But we do need a wall for a fairly good portion.  We also — as you know, it was passed in 2006 — a essentially similar thing, which — a fence, a very substantial fence was passed.  But, unfortunately, I don’t know, they never got it done.  But they need it.

So I’m appealing to everyone in the room to put the country before party, and to sit down and negotiate and to compromise, and let’s see if we can get something done.  I really think that we have a chance to do it.  I think it’s very important.  You’re talking about 800,000 people — and we’re talking about lots of other people are also affected, including people that live in our country.  That’s from the security standpoint.

So maybe the press can stay for a little while and a couple of folks can make statements and I don’t mind the statements.  We want to have this as a very open forum.  I will say, though, that I really do believe Democratic and Republican — the people sitting around this table — want to get something done in good faith.  And I think we’re on our way to do it.

This was an idea I had last week.  I was sitting with some of our great Republican senators and we all agreed on everything.  It was a great meeting.  Right?  David, right?  We had a great meeting — Tom.  It was perfect.

Then I said, “yeah, but we’d like to get some Democrats.  Well, what do they say?”  And I say, “let’s have the same meeting, but let’s add the Democrats.”  And that’s what we’ve done.  And I think we’re going to come up with an answer.  I hope we’re going to come up with an answer for DACA, and then we go further than that later on down the road.

Dick, perhaps you’d like to say a few words?

SENATOR DURBIN:  Thanks, Mr. President, for inviting us.  We’re all honored to be a part of this conversation.

September the 5th, you challenged us.  You challenged Congress.  You said we’re going to end DACA, not replace it.  As of today, we have not done that.  We face a deadline of March 5th, which you created with your elimination of DACA, and we know that, in the meantime, there have been efforts underway by Senator Graham and I.

We sat down with a bipartisan group of senators.  We have worked long and hard, many hours have been put into it.  And we feel that we can put together a combination for the future of DACA as well as border security, and that there are elements you’re going to find Democrats support when it comes to border security.  We want a safe border in America, period, both when it comes to the issues of illegal migration, but also when it comes to drugs and all these other areas.

Now, I will say that there is a sense of urgency that’s felt by many of us when it comes to this issue.  There are many of these young people who are losing the protection of DACA on a daily basis.  As of March 5th, a thousand a day will lose DACA protection.  Nine hundred of them are members of the U.S. military.  Twenty thousand of them are schoolteachers.  In my state of Illinois and the city of Chicago, there are 25 of them in medical school who can’t apply for a residency if they lose their DACA status.

So lives are hanging in the balance of our getting the job done.  We’ve got the time to do it.  In a matter of days — literally of days — we can come together and reach an agreement.  And when that happens, I think good things will happen in other places.  And we’ll see some progress in Washington.

THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that, Dick.  I very much agree with that.  Tom, would you like to say something?  Tom Cotton.

SENATOR COTTON:  Thank you for inviting us all here and I’m glad to be here with Democrats and with House members as well.  You know, I think, on this issue, there’s a lack of trust and has been, for many years, a lack of trust between Republicans and Democrats; a lack of trust among Republicans; most fundamentally, a lack of trust between the American people and our elected leaders on not delivering a solution for many, many years about some of these problems.

And I hope that this meeting can be the beginning of building trust between our parties, between the chambers, because I know, for fact, all the Republicans around the table are committed to finding a solution, and I believe all the Democrats are as well.

So I think this is a good first step in building the trust we need for a good bill, Mr. President, that will achieve the objectives that you stated: providing legal protection for the DACA population, while also securing our border and ending chain migration and the diversity lottery.

Thank you for the invitation.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, thank you very much for having us down here.  I agree with Tom Cotton that the American public are very frustrated with us.  One of the reasons they’re frustrated with us is because we continue to couple things on which we have large agreement with things in which we do not agree.  This is a perfect example of that.

Eighty-six percent of the American people in the most recent poll are for ensuring, as you have said, not providing for DACA-protected kids to go to a place that they don’t know, they didn’t grow up in, and it’s not their home.  They’re Americans.  They don’t have a piece of paper that says they’re Americans, but they’re Americans.

And it seems to me, Mr. President, if we’re going to move ahead in a constructive way, that we take that on which we agree — pass it.  The American public will be pleased with all of us if we do that.  Just as, in September, you recall, we did the extension of the CR.  No drama.  We were all for it.  You and the four leaders met, we came to an agreement, and we passed that CR.

In my view, we can pass the protection in the — well, I understand your position is procedurally it was not done correctly.  You then, as Dick has said, challenged us — pass it correctly.

If it’s put on the floor, Mr. President, I believe we will have the overwhelming majority in both the House — and Senator Graham thinks that we’ll have a substantial majority in the United States Senate as well.  That, I think, is the first step, Tom, to creating some degree of confidence.

Democrats are for security at the borders; I want to state that emphatically.  There is not a Democrat that is not for having secure borders.

There are obviously differences however, Mr. President, on how you effect that.  You just indicated that yourself.  And you indicated this would be a first step, and then we continue to talk as we’re talking today about how we best secure the border.  There are differences of opinion within your party and within in our party.

So I would urge that we move forward on protecting the DACA-protected individuals — young people, young adults, as you pointed out in one of your statements — who are productive parts of our community — that we protect them and get that done.  And then, because I think everybody around the table, as you pointed out, is for security — and then the issue is going to be how do we best effect that border security.

So I would urge us to move, as Senator Durbin has urged us to move, on the DACA students.  As a matter of fact, the Speaker, I think today, but maybe yesterday, said, we need to solve the DACA issue, and we need to solve it in a way that is permanent, not temporary.  And I agree with him on that issue.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, interestingly, when you say that, President Obama, when he signed the executive order, actually said he doesn’t have the right to do this.  And so you do have to go through Congress, and you do have to make it permanent, whether he does, whether he doesn’t — let’s assume he doesn’t, he said it — and that was a temporary stopgap, I don’t think we want that.  I think we want to have a permanent solution to this.  And I think everybody in this room feels that way very strongly.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  What happened, Mr. President, I think, is that the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill, as you know.  We did not consider it in the House, so we didn’t reach those issues.

Very frankly, on border security, Mr. McCaul, the Chairman of the committee, reported out a unanimous security solution, which we then included in the bill that we filed on comprehensive immigration reform.  So I think we can reach agreement.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I also think that, after we do DACA — and I really believe we should be able to be successful — I really think we should look in terms of your permanent solution and to the whole situation with immigration.  I think a lot of people in this room would agree to that also, but we’ll do it in steps.  And most people agree with that, I think, that we’ll do the steps.  Even you say, ‘let’s do this, and then we go phase two.’

Kevin, what would you like to say?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Well, first, I want to thank you for bringing everybody together.  You got the Senate, you got the House, you got both parties.  And I like the exchange of ideas, and I think everybody has a point here.

The one thing I don’t want to have happen here is what I saw in the past.  There were four bills that were passed on border security years ago that never got finished.  There were immigration bills passed that — we’re right back at the table with the same problem.  Let’s make a commitment to each one, and, most importantly, to the American people, that, when we get done and come to an agreement, that we’re not back at this problem three, four years from now. 

That’s why — yes, we’ve got to do DACA, and I agree with you 100 percent — but if we do not do something with the security, if we do not do something with the chain migration, we are fooling each other that we solved the problem.  You know how difficult this issue is.  So let’s collectively — we’re here at the table together.  I’ll be the first one to tell you, we’re all going to have to give a little, and I’ll be the first one willing to.

But let’s solve the problem — but let’s not tell the American public at the end that it’s solved when it’s not.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think a good starting point would be Bob Goodlatte, who has done a bill, and I understand you’re ready to submit it.  And you’re going to take that and you’ll submit it and they’ll negotiate it in Congress or the House.  And then it goes to the Senate, and they’ll negotiate — both Republican and Democrat.  But it could be a good way of starting.

Now, if anyone has an idea different from that — but, I think, starting in the House.  Starting in the House — Mike, you good?  You’re ready.  I think you’re ready to go.

REPRESENTATIVE MCCAUL:  We are, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  I would like to add the words “merit” into any bill that’s submitted because I think we should have merit-based immigration like they have in Canada, like they have in Australia.  So we have people coming in that have a great track record, as opposed to what we’re doing now, to be honest with you.

But I think merit-based should be absolutely added to any bill, even if it has to do with DACA.  That would be added to the things I said.  I think it would be popular.  I can tell you, the American public very much wants that.

But, Bob, where are you with the bill?

REPRESENTATIVE GOODLATTE:  So, tomorrow, Chairman McCaul and Congresswoman McSally and Congressman Labrador — we’re the chairmen of the two committees and the chairmen of the two subcommittees — are going to introduce a bill that addresses the DACA concerns.

And let me thank you, Mr. President, both — I was an immigration lawyer before I was elected to Congress.  I want to thank you both for campaigning on securing our borders and the interior of our country, but also on addressing DACA in a way that makes sense.  Don’t do it ad hoc; do it through the congressional process.  So you’ve challenged us, and we should step up to that challenge.  And we’re going to do it in a bipartisan fashion, but we have to put our best foot forward.

And we’re going to do that with this legislation.  It’s going to address DACA in a permanent way, not a temporary short-term thing.  We’re going to address the border enforcement and security and the wall.  We’re going to address — in Mr. McCaul’s bill, we’re going to address interior enforcement, but not everything that the administration had on its list.  

We’re going to address chain migration.  We’re going to end the visa lottery program.  We’re going to address sanctuary cities and Kate’s Law. 

We think it is a good bill that will both address the two things our Speaker told us right after you made your decision, which is, we have to address the problem we have with the DACA kids being in limbo, as Dick Dubin described it, and I agree with that.  But we also have to make sure this does not happen again.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, Dick, you and the Democrats are going to have a lot of things that they’re not going to agree — you’re going to talk to us about it.  I just felt that this is something that was long overdue.  You’d have a meeting and you’d say, this is what we want.  We’d have a meeting — and this has been going on for years.  And I just — you know, at a certain point, maybe I’ll just lock the doors and I won’t let anybody out — (laughter) — until they come and agree.

Michael, do you have something to say about the bill?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCAUL:  Yes, I’ve been in Congress for seven terms.  I’ve been trying to get this border secure for seven terms in Congress.  I think this is a bipartisan issue.  I think DACA is a bipartisan issue. 

We have an opportunity, I think, before us to get this done for the American people.  When it comes to chain migration and the lottery system, we saw two recent terror attacks in New York that were the result of this, I think, failed immigration policy.  We’d like to see that fixed for the American people and along with, as Bob talked about, sanctuary cities.

Now, you and I talked about this extensively.  So we think our bill, our House bill would be a good starting ground for this negotiation.  And I, too, want to commend you for bringing everybody together. 

I think what we don’t want to see happen is for the conditions for DACA to occur again.  We want to get security done so we don’t have to deal with this problem five more years down the road. 

So thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there are so many points of agreement, and a lot of it is common sense.  And I really think we’re going to come out very well.

David Perdue, do you have something to say?

REPRESENTATIVE PERDUE:  Well, yeah, my observation is that three times in the last eleven years, well-intentioned people, some of whom are in this room, attempted to do what we’re starting to try to do today, and we failed.  And I think the difference is, is their mission creep ended up in an effort that became too comprehensive. 

And so, today, my encouragement for all of us is to do what Dick has been trying to do and talks about repeatedly, and that is to limit the scope of this.  And I like the idea that both sides have pressure to solve the DACA issue.  But I think the bigger issue here is not just the DACA issue, but what we can do to start the path to the steps that solve this immigration problem.  For several reasons — there are social issues; there are political issues; there are economic issues about our workforce that have to be addressed. 

But limiting this to the legal immigration side and combining the balance between various solutions on DACA; DREAMers, if it gets in the conversation; as well border security and chain migration, I think therein lies the balance of a good deal that can be done.

And I don’t think — I agree with Dick.  I don’t think it’s going to take long to get it done if we just lock ourselves in a room and make it happen.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think you’re right.  I think it could be done very quickly. 

Would anybody have anything to say prior to the press leaving?

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Mr. President, I just have one comment.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Senator Durbin mentioned that lives are hanging in the balance.  As we come up on the January 19th deadline, the lives that are hanging in the balance are those of our military that are needing the equipment and the funding and everything they need in order to keep us safe, and we should not playing politics on this issue to stop our military from getting the funding that they need.

I think we have the right people in the room to solve this issue.  The deadline is March 5th.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and work together on this.  But those who need us right now before the January 19 deadline is our military.  And let’s not play politics with that.  Let’s give them what they need to keep us safe.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, good.  And I think a lot of people would agree with that.  We need our military — I can’t say more than ever before.  We had wars.  Right, Lindsey?  We had a lot of other areas and times.  But we need our military desperately.  Our military has been very depleted.  We’re rebuilding, and we’re building it up quickly, and we’re negotiating much better deals with your purveyors and with your manufacturers and with your equipment-makers — much better than it was before.

I looked at boats that started off at $1.5 billion, and they’re up to $18 billion, and they’re still not finished.  In this case, a particular aircraft carrier.  I think it’s outrageous.  So we’re very much agreeing with you on that one.

Would anybody like to say?  Yes, Steny, go ahead.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  I want to follow up on that.  There are no Democrats that don’t want to make sure that the military is funded properly.  And over the last four years, we had an agreement between Mr. Ryan and Senator Murray — Speaker Ryan and — that we understand that our military is critically important.  But we also understand that our domestic issues, whether it’s education, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s environment, whether it’s transportation and infrastructure, they’re important, as well. 

And both the defense and non-defense sides of the budget are hurt when you have a CR, because they cannot blink and they cannot get contracts if they don’t have any money to do so.  So that, very frankly, I think Ms. McSally is correct.  But what we ought to have done over the last six months — particularly when we did the September and we gave 90 days — is to reach some agreement on what the caps are going to be.  The Murray-Ryan agreements were parity.  We believe that’s very important.

So we can get to where we should get and want to get there, but we ought to have an agreement based upon what the last —

THE PRESIDENT:  But, Steny, we do have to take politics out of the military.  We need that military.  All the other things we talk about, we’re not going to be here if we don’t have the right military.  And we need our military, and we need it stronger than ever before, and we’re ready to do it.  But we have to take politics out of the military.

One thing that I think we can really get along with on a bipartisan basis — and maybe I’m stronger on this than a lot of the people on the Republican side, but I will tell you, we have great support from the Republicans — is infrastructure.  I think we can do a great infrastructure bill.  I think we’re going to have a lot of support from both sides, and I’d like to get it done as quickly as possible.

[Trump doesn’t seem to get it: social spending – health care, education – are equally important to military spending.] 

Yes, John.

SENATOR CORNYN:  Mr. President, I, too, want to thank you for getting us together.  You made the point last week when Republicans were meeting with you that, why are we continuing to have these meetings just among ourselves when what we need to do to get to a solution is to meet, as we are today, as you insisted, on bipartisan basis.

[The only reason there is any interest at all in “bipartisan” solution – to DACA, immigration, infrastructure, the budget – is because they need 60 votes, not 51, to get measures through the Senate, unless McConnell does what Trump wants and gets rid of the filibuster.]

But part of my job is to count votes in the Senate.  And as you know when you hosted us, the leadership, at Camp David this weekend, I believe both the Speaker and Majority Leader McConnell made crystal clear that they would not proceed with a bill on the floor of the Senate or the House unless it had your support, unless you would sign it.

So that’s, I think, the picture we need to be looking through — the lens we need to be looking through is not only what could we agree to among ourselves on a bipartisan basis, but what will you sign into law.  Because we all want to get to a solution here, and we realize the clock is ticking.

But I think that for me frames the issue about as well as I can.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Very well said.  One of the reasons I’m here, Chuck, so importantly, is exactly that.  I mean, normally you wouldn’t have a President coming to this meeting.  Normally, frankly, you’d have Democrats, Republicans, and maybe nothing would get done. 

Our system lends itself to not getting things done, and I hear so much about earmarks — the old earmark system — how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks.  But of course, they had other problems with earmarks.  But maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks.  Because this system — (laughter) —

PARTICIPANT:  Yes, yes, yes.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  This system — (laughter) — but you should do it, and I’m there with you, because this system really lends itself to not getting along.  It lends itself to hostility and anger, and they hate the Republicans.  And they hate the Democrats.  And in the old days of earmarks, you can say what you want about certain Presidents and others, where they all talk about they went out to dinner at night and they all got along, and they passed bills.  That was an earmark system, and maybe we should think about it.

[This is true: earmarks allow for horse-trading, for a President like Johnson, but not Obama who did not have the benefit of earmarks, to make deals. Without it, politicians have no incentive to “compromise” and every incentive to revert to partisan fringes because all they have to fear is being primaried. Trump wants to return to using earmarks, so he can quite literally buy votes with taxpayer money. That is what is behind the infrastructure plan – it turn the US Treasury into a political slush fund to benefit Trump and the Republicans.] 

And we have to put better controls because it got a little bit out of hand, but maybe that brings people together.  Because our system right now, the way it’s set up, will never bring people together.  

Now, I think we’re going to get this done — DACA.  I think we’re going to get — I hope we’re going to get infrastructure done in the same way. 

But I think you should look at a form of earmarks.  I see Lindsey nodding very hard “yes.”

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Starting with the Port of Charleston.  Absolutely.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  A lot of the pros are saying that if you want to get along and if you want to get this country really rolling again, you have to look at a different form, because this is obviously out of control.

The levels of hatred — and I’m not talking about Trump.  I’m talking you go back throughout the eight years of Obama and you go before that, the animosity and the hatred between Republicans and Democrats.

I remember when I used to go out in Washington, and I’d see Democrats having dinner with Republicans.  And they were best friends, and everybody got along.  You don’t see that too much anymore.  In all due respect, you really don’t see that.  When was the last time you took a Republican out?  Why don’t you guys go and have dinner together?  (Laughter.)

But you don’t see it.  So maybe, and very importantly, totally different from this meeting, because we’re going to get DACA done — I hope we’re going to get DACA done, and we’re going to all try very hard — but maybe you should start bringing back a concept of earmarks.  It’s going to bring you together.  You’re going to do it honestly.  You’re going to get rid of the problems that the other system had — and it did have some problems.  But one thing it did is it brought everyone together.  And this country has to be brought together.  Okay?  Thank you.

Yes, Lindsey?

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Well, at 6:40 p.m., I’m going to go to Menendez’s office, and he’s taking me to dinner.  (Laughter.)

And he’s buying.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sounds like fun.

SENATOR GRAHAM:  He didn’t know that, but he’s buying.  We’re going to Morton’s.  You’re all welcome to come.  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  We can usually get bipartisan agreement when the other guy buys.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s a very important thing, because our system is designed, right now, that everybody should hate each other.  And we can’t have that.  You know, we have a great country.  We have a country that’s doing very well in many respects.  We’re just hitting a new high on the stock market again, and that means jobs.  I don’t look at the stocks, I look at the jobs.  I look at the 401(k)s, I look at what’s happening, where police come up to me and they say, “Thank you.  You’re making me look like a financial genius” — literally — meaning about them.  And their wives never thought that was possible, right?

No, the country is doing well in so many ways, but there’s such divisiveness, such division.  And I really believe we can solve that.  I think this system is a very bad system in terms of getting together.  And I’m going to leave it up to you, but I really believe you can do something to bring it together.

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Other than going to dinner with Bob — I’ve been doing this for 10 years — I don’t think I’ve seen a better chance to get it done than I do right now, because of you.  John’s right — I’m not going to support a deal if you don’t support it.  I’ve had my head beat out a bunch; I’m still standing.  I’m “Lindsey Grahamnesty,” “Lindsey Gomez” — you name every name you want to give to me, it’s been assigned to me.  And I’m still standing.

The people of South Carolina want a result.  How can I get a letter?  I’ve been for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people because I have no animosity toward them.  I don’t want crooks, I don’t want “bad hombres.”  I want to get a merit-based immigration system to make sure we can succeed in the 21st century, and I’m willing to be more than fair to the 11 million.  I just don’t want to do this every 20 years.

Now, we made a decision, Mr. President, not to do it comprehensively.  I think that’s a smart decision but a hard decision.  We’ve passed three comprehensive bills out of the Senate with over 55 votes.  They go to the House and die, and I’m not being disparaging to my House colleagues, this is tough politics if you’re a Republican House member turning on the radio. 

To my Democratic friends, thanks for coming.  The Resist Movement hates this guy.  They don’t want him to be successful at all.  You turn on Fox News, and I can hear the drumbeat coming.  Right-wing radio and TV talk show hosts are going to beat the crap out of us because it’s going to be amnesty all over again.  I don’t know if the Republican and Democratic Party can define love, but I think what we can do is do what the American people want us to do.

Sixty-two percent of the Trump voters support a pathway to citizenship for the DACA kids if you have strong borders.  You have created an opportunity in here, Mr. President, and you need to close the deal. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Lindsey.  You know, it’s very interesting because I do have people that are — just to use a very common term — very far right and very far left.  They’re very unhappy about what we’re doing, but I really don’t believe they have to be, because I really think this sells itself.  And, you know, when you talk about comprehensive immigration reform, which is where I would like to get to eventually — if we do the right bill here, we are not very far way.  You know, we’ve done most of it.  You want to know the truth, Dick?  If we do this properly, DACA, you’re not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform.

And if you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat, I don’t care.  I don’t care — I’ll take all the heat you want to give me, and I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans.  My whole life has been heat.  (Laughter.)  I like heat, in a certain way.  But I will.

I mean, you are somewhat more traditional politicians.  Two and a half years ago, I was never thinking in terms of politics.  Now I’m a politician.  You people have been doing it, many of you, all your lives.  I’ll take all the heat you want.  But you are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.  And if you wanted to go that final step, I think you should do it.  And if you want to study earmarks to bring us all together, so we all get together and do something, I think you should study it.

Chuck, did you have something to say?

SENATOR GRASSLEY:  I’d like to talk about the reality of the whole situation and take off from what Cornyn and Graham have said of the necessity of you working with us.  And you are doing that by having this meeting and other meetings as well.  But we’ve always talked in the United States Senate about the necessity of getting 60 votes.  And that’s pretty darn tough.

But if we would write a bill that you don’t like and you veto it, we’re talking about a 67-vote threshold — two-thirds in the United States Senate.  So that’s the reality of negotiating in good faith and getting something you can sign.

The second reality is the March 5th date that’s coming up.  Because if we don’t do some good-faith negotiation and make progress, and get a bill on the floor of the United States Senate, our leader is going to have to bring up either the House bill or the bill that some of us have introduced in the United States Senate, and we’re going to have a vote on it.  And those people that don’t want to vote to legalize DACA kids are going to have to explain why they haven’t wanted to protect the vulnerable people that we’re all here talking about.  We’re talking about everything except doing something for the DACA kids.

You know, I would vote for a path to citizenship, which isn’t very easy for me, but I would do it just as an effort.  But there are certain things that we got to guarantee that we’re going to do.

THE PRESIDENT:  Chuck, that’s going to be brought up.  I really believe that will be brought up as part of what we’re talking about, at some point.  It’s an incentive for people to do a good job, if you want to know the truth.  That whole path is an incentive for people — and they’re not all kids.  I mean, we’re used to talking about kids.  They’re not really kids.  You have them 39, 40 years old, in some cases.  But it would be an incentive for people to work hard and do a good job.  So that could very well be brought up.

SENATOR GRASSLEY:  We’re talking about legalizing people here that didn’t break the law because their parents, who broke the law, brought them here.  And we ought to be talking about what we can do for the people that had no fault of their own, and get the job done, and not worry about a lot of other things that we’re involved in.  And that means that we got to make sure that we tell the American people, when we’re taking this step, that we’re doing something that all the people agree to.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, let me just say, I think Dick and I agree with what Chuck Grassley just said.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s hard to believe.  When was the last time that happened?  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  We need to take care of these DACA kids, and we all agree on that.  Eighty-six percent of the American public agrees on that. 

With all due respect, Bob, and Mike, and Lindsey, there are some things that you’re proposing that are going to be very controversial and will be an impediment to agreement.

THE PRESIDENT:  But you’re going to negotiate those things.  You’re going to sit down and you’re going to say, listen, we can’t agree here, we’ll give you half of that, we’re going to — you’re going to negotiate those things.

     REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, comprehensive means comprehensive.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, we’re not talking about comprehensive.  Now we’re talking about —

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  No, we are.  We are talking about comprehensive.

THE PRESIDENT:  If you want to go there, it’s okay because you’re not that far away.

SENATOR HOYER:  Mr. President, many of the things that are mentioned ought be a part of the negotiations regarding comprehensive immigration reform. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I think if you want to take it a step further, you may — I’m going to have to rely on you, Dick — but you may complicate it and you may delay DACA somewhat.

SENATOR DURBIN:  I don’t want to do that.

SENATOR HOYER:  You can’t do that.

SENATOR DURBIN:  You said at the outset that we need to phase this.  I think the first phase is what Chuck and Steny and I have mentioned, and others as well:  We have a deadline looming and a lot of lives hanging.  We can agree on some very fundamental and important things together on border security, on chain, on the future of diversity visas.  Comprehensive, though, I worked on it for six months with Michael Bennet, and a number of — Bob Menendez, and Schumer, and McCain, and Jeff Flake — and it took us six months to put it together.  We don’t have six months for the DACA bill.

PARTICIPANT:  We’re not talking about comprehensive immigration.

PARTICIPANT:  Take a look at our bill and let’s talk some.

PARTICIPANT:  I hear you.

SENATOR DURBIN:  You’ve mentioned a number of factors that are going to be controversial, as Steny has mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT:  But you’re going to negotiate.  Dick, you’re going to negotiate.  Maybe we will agree and maybe we won’t.  I mean, it’s possible we’re not going to agree with you and it’s possible we will, but there should be no reason for us not to get this done.

And, Chuck, I will say, when this group comes back — hopefully with an agreement — this group and others from the Senate, from the House, comes back with an agreement, I’m signing it.  I mean, I will be signing it.  I’m not going to say, “Oh, gee, I want this or I want that.”  I’ll be signing it, because I have a lot of confidence in the people in this room that they’re going to come up with something really good. 

Senator, would you like to say something?

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  I would.  As you know, we tried for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate.  It was on the floor, there were a number of amendments, it got a lot of attention in the judiciary committee, and then the House didn’t take it up. 

I think there needs to be a willingness on both sides.  And I think — and I don’t know how you would feel about this, but I’d like to ask the question:  What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure?  Like we did back — oh, I remember when Kennedy was here and it was really a major, major effort, and it was a great disappointment that it went nowhere.

THE PRESIDENT:  I remember that.  I have no problem.  I think that’s basically what Dick is saying.  We’re going to come up with DACA.  We’re going to do DACA, and then we can start immediately on the phase two, which would be comprehensive.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Would you be agreeable to that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I would like — I would like to do that.*  Go ahead. I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we have to do DACA first. 

[The original transcript, which was modified by the White House to change what Trump actually said, read: THE PRESIDENT:  I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we have to do DACA first.]

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Mr. President, you need to be clear though.  I think what Senator Feinstein is asking here: When we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later.  We have to have security, as the Secretary would tell you. 

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  But I think that’s what she’s saying.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  What do you think I’m saying?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  I’m thinking you’re saying DACA is not secure.  Are you talking about security as well?

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Well, I think if we have some meaningful comprehensive immigration reform, that’s really where the security goes.  And if we can get the DACA bill, because March is coming and people are losing their status every day — 

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  But, let’s be honest.  Security was voted on just a few years ago, and, no disrespect, there’s people in the room on the other side of the aisle who voted for it.  If I recall, Senator Clinton voted for it.  So I don’t think that’s comprehensive; I think that’s dealing with DACA at the same time.  I think that’s really what the President is making.

It’s kind of like three pillars: DACA, because we’re all in the room want to do it; border security, so we’re not back out here; and chain migration.  It’s just three items, and then everything else that’s comprehensive is kind of moved to the side. 

So I believe when the (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  And the lottery.

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  And the lottery.

THE PRESIDENT:  And I think you should add merit.  I mean, if you can, add merit-based.  (Laughter.)  I don’t think — I don’t know who is going to argue with merit-based?  Who can argue with merit-based?

Dianne, go ahead.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Can I ask a question?  Do you really think that there can be agreement on all of that, quickly, to get DACA passed in time?  I wanted to ask Mr. McCarthy a question.  Do you really think there can be agreement on those three difficult subjects you raised in time to get DACA passed and effective?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Yes, because you have heard from Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan, who said they will put the bill onto the floor if the President agrees to it.  And us getting to the room, I haven’t seen us be this close and having this discussion in quite a few years — or the whole last four years.

So I think, yes, we can make this happen.  We all know it.  We’ve done it before.  You and I spent a long time — we did probably one of the most difficult things to do in California — water.  And I believe we can get there and we can just keep working each day on this.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think what we’re all saying is we’ll do DACA and we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon.  Okay?  We’ll take an hour off and then we’ll start. 

SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Okay.

THE PRESIDENT:  I do believe that.  Because once we get DACA done — if it’s done properly — with, you know, security, and everything else —

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  That’s the point.

THE PRESIDENT:  If it’s done properly, we have taken a big chunk of comprehensive out of the negotiation, and I don’t think it’s going to be that complicated.

SENATOR PERDUE:  Mr. President, we have —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

SENATOR PERDUE:  We have to be very clear though.

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

SENATOR PERDUE:  In my opinion, we’ll be right back here either five years, thirty years, whatever.  But this, the chain migration, is so insidious; it is the fundamental flaw in the immigration policy of the United States.  If any conversation about DACA is being held without that consideration — I agree with border security as well — but any conversation about that is not going to go anywhere in the United States Senate.  And if we think we’re going to divide one side versus the other, that’s just not going to happen on this issue.

THE PRESIDENT:  David, I think chain migration has taken a very big hit over the last six months.  People are seeing what’s happening.

People — for instance, the man on the Westside Highway that killed the people and so badly wounded.  You know, it’s incredible when they talk about wounded, they don’t say that arms are off, and legs are off, one person lost two legs.  You know, nobody talks about it.  They said eight died, but they don’t talk about the twelve people that have no legs, no arms, and all of the things.  So I’m talking about everybody.

I really believe that when you talk about the subject that we’re all mentioning right now, I think they had — how many people came in?  Twenty-two to twenty-four people came in through him.  He’s a killer.  He’s a guy who ran over eight — many people — eight died; ten to twelve are really badly injured.  So I really think that a lot of people are going to agree with us now on that subject.  I really don’t see there’s a big —

SENATOR PERDUE:  Seventy percent of Americans want the immigration policy to be, the family — the nuclear family and the workers.  Seventy percent.   

THE PRESIDENT:  David, the chain immigration, though, has taken a very big hit in the last year with what’s happening.  I mean, you’re looking at these killers — whether you like or not — we’re looking at these killers and then you see, 18 people came in, 22 people came in, 30 people came in, with this one person that just killed a lot of people.  I really don’t believe there are a lot of Democrats saying, “We will be supporting chain migration,” anymore.

PARTICIPANT:   Mr. President, should we get the Homeland Security Secretary —

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  Yeah, if you don’t mind.  Just on a couple of things on border security.  I just want to try to make sure we’re all linking.

The reason that border security is so important to have as part of this discussion is that it doesn’t solve the problem if we can apprehend people but we can’t remove them.  So we need the wall system, which is some physical infrastructure as the President described — personnel and technology — but we have to close those legal loopholes, because the effect is that is this incredible pull up from Central America that just continues to exacerbate the problem.  So border security has to be part of this or we will be here again in three, four, five years again — maybe, unfortunately, sooner.

The other point I would just make is, the President asked DHS — he asked the men and women of DHS, what do you need to do your job?  Congress and the American people have entrusted to you, the security of our country.  What is it that you need?  The list that we have provided is what we need to do our mission that you asked us to do.  It’s not less than, it’s not more than; it is what we need to close those loopholes to be able to protect our country.

So I would just encourage — everyone, much more eloquently than I can, described all the reasons why we all, I think, are committed to helping the DACA population.  But to truly solve the problem, it’s got to be in conjunction with border security. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Jeff.

SENATOR FLAKE:  I would just echo what has been said by some here.  Those of us who have been through comprehension reform, that was six, seven months of every night negotiating, staff on weekends.  And a lot of things we’re talking about on border security and some of the interior things have trade-offs, and we made those during that process.  I don’t see how we get there before March 5th.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s okay.  So I think that’s why we make it a phase two.  We do a phase one, which is DACA and security, and we do phase two, which is comprehensive immigration.  And I think we should go right to it, I really do.  We do one and we then do the other.  But we go right to it.

Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE DIAZ-BALART:  Mr. President, I think it’s important to thank you for your flexibility and your leadership.  And so I think what all of us have to do is have the same willingness to have a little bit of flexibility to get this issue done.  And, obviously, I want to do a lot more than DACA.  But the urgent thing now, for obvious reasons, are these young men and women who we have to deal with, first and foremost.

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree.

REPRESENTATIVE DIAZ-BALART:  And to Steny’s point, there are two issues which we keep hearing that everybody agrees to, and that is dealing with these individuals on a permanent and real solution, and border security.  

     So I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to do that, and I’m hoping that that will then lead us — to Senator Collins’ point, there’s a lot of lack of trust.  If we can get real border security and deal with these individuals, if we can get that done, then I think, my gosh, it all opens up to do a lot more things in the future for the Americans.

REPRESENTATIVE GOODLATTE:  I just want to reemphasize what Secretary Nielsen said.  It is so important they understand when you talk about border security, if you apprehend somebody at the border, but then you cannot send them back outside the United States, even though they’re unlawfully present in the United States, you have not solved this problem, because they’re then released into the interior of the country and the problem persists.  And that sends a message back to wherever they come from. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree, Bob.  And you know what?  We’re going to negotiate that.  I agree, and I think a lot of people agree on both sides.

Henry?

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And I agree with my good friend, Mario, in the sense that if we focus on DACA and border security, I think we can address this.  Issues of chain migration or the other issues, I think that should be looked at in the second phase.

But again, I say this with all due respect to both Democrats, Republicans — but being from the border, I always get a kick out of people that go down, spend a few hours, and they think they know the border better than Cornyn — or some of us there, because we’ve lived there all our life.

Let me explain this.  For example, if you look at the latest DEA — you’re worried about drugs, look at the latest DEA report — more drugs come through the ports of entry than in between ports.  But we’re not even talking about ports of entry, number one.

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Our bill does.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  No, I know — I’m just saying.  I’m saying.  (Laughter.)  I’m just saying ports — let’s finish this.  And some of us have been working this longer than some other folks.

Number one, if you look at the 11 or 12 million undocumented aliens, which is the second phase, 40 percent of them came through visa overstays.  So you can put the most beautiful wall out there, it’s not going to stop them there because they’ll either come by plane, boat, or vehicle itself. 

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  That’s in our bill, too.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yeah, and I know.  So the other thing is, the other thing that we had looked at — the wall itself, Mr. President — if you talk to your Border Patrol chief or the former Border Patrol chiefs, I’ve asked them, how much time does a wall buy you?  They’ll say a couple minutes or a few seconds.  And this is our own Border Patrol chiefs that have said that.

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  It’s not mine.  Mine has made clear the wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not the ones I spoke to.

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  They have not.  The wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not the ones I spoke to.  They say, without the wall, we cannot have border security.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All right.  Okay.  Let me show you.

THE PRESIDENT:  All you have to do is ask Israel.  Look what happened with them. 

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  No, ask Yuma.  Ask San Diego.  The wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, without the wall, you can’t have it.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All right.  Homeland Appropriations, your chief that was there, and the former chiefs have all said that.

Now, the other thing is —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they didn’t do a very good job.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Well, if you look at — this is where the wall — Mr. President, if you look at where the walls are at right now, this is where the activity is where the walls are at right now.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have massive miles of area where people are pouring through.  Now, one of the good things, because of our rhetoric or because of the perceived — you know, my perceived attitude — fewer people are trying to come through.  That’s a great thing.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Right.

THE PRESIDENT:  And therefore — I mean, our numbers have been fantastic, maybe for all the right reasons.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But let me just finish my thought.  I want to ask you that — we’re playing — you saw the game last night.  It was a good game last night.

THE PRESIDENT:  I did.  Very good game.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We’re playing defense on the one-yard line called the U.S. border.  We spend over $18 billion a year on the border. 

If we think about playing defense on the 20-yard line — if you look at what Mexico has done, they stop thousands of people on the southern border with Guatemala.  We ought to be looking at working with them.

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, we stopped them.  We stopped them.  You know why?  Mexico told me, the President told me, everybody tells me — not as many people are coming through their southern border because they don’t think they can get through our southern border and therefore they don’t come.  That’s what happened with Mexico.  We did Mexico a tremendous favor.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We actually put appropriations to help them with the southern border.

THE PRESIDENT:  The point is — I know, we always give everybody — every other nation gets money except ours.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But finally —

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re always looking for money.  We give the money to other nations.  That we have to stop.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But finally, the last point, Mr. President, is instead of playing defense on the one-yard line, if you look — this is your material — we know where the stash houses are at, we know where the hotels are at, we know where they cross the river —

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  And we’re going after those.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Why stop — why play defense on the one-yard line called the U.S. —

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, we’re going after them like never before.  We’re going after the stash houses —

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All I’m saying is, if we focus on DACA, we can work on the other things separately — on sensible border security, listen to the folks that are from the border, and we can work with the —

THE PRESIDENT:  And you folks are going to have to — you’re one voice — you folks are going to have to come up with a solution. 

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  And if you do, I’m going to sign that solution.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have a lot of smart people in this room.  Really smart people.  We have a lot of people that are good people, big hearts.  They want to get it done.

I think almost everybody — I can think of one or two I don’t particularly like, but that’s okay.  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Where is he looking?

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Who is he looking at?  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m trying to figure that out.  Everybody wants a solution.  You want it, Henry.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.  I want to work with you on this.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think we have a great group of people to sit down and get this done.  In fact, when the media leaves, which I think should be probably pretty soon.  (Laughter.)  But I like — but I will tell you, I like opening it up to the media because I think they’re seeing, more than anything else, that we’re all very much on a similar page.  We’re on the same page.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We are.  We are.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, Henry, I think we can really get something done.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  So why don’t we ask the media to leave.  We appreciate you being here. 

Q    Is there any agreement without the wall? 

THE PRESIDENT:  No, there wouldn’t be.  You need it.  John, you need the wall.  I mean, it’s wonderful — I’d love not to build the wall, but you need the wall.

And I will tell you this, the ICE officers and the Border Patrol agents — I had them just recently on — they say, if you don’t have the wall — you know, in certain areas, obviously, that aren’t protected by nature — if you don’t have the wall, you cannot have security.  You just can’t have it.  It doesn’t work.

And part of the problem we have is walls and fences that we currently have are in very bad shape.  They’re broken.  We have to get them fixed or rebuilt.

But, you know, you speak to the agents, and I spoke to all of them.  I spoke — I lived with themThey endorsed me for President, which they’ve never done before — the Border Patrol agents and ICE.  They both endorsed Trump.  And they never did that before.  And I have a great relationship with them.  They say, sir, without the wall, security doesn’t work; we’re all wasting time. 

Now, that doesn’t mean 2,000 miles of wall because you just don’t need that because of nature, because of mountains and rivers and lots of other things.  But we need a certain portion of that border to have the wall.  If we don’t have it, you can never have security.  You could never stop that portion of drugs that comes through that area.

Yes, it comes through planes and lots of other ways and ships.  But a lot of it comes through the southern border.  You can never fix the situation without additional wall.  And we have to fix existing wall that we already have.

Q    So you would not be for what Senator Feinstein asked you, which would be a clean DACA bill that doesn’t —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think a clean DACA bill, to me, is a DACA bill where we take care of the 800,000 people.  They are actually not necessarily young people; everyone talks about young — you know, they could be 40 years old, 41 years old, but they’re also 16 years old.

But I think, to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA.  We take care of them and we also take care of security.  That’s very important.

And I think the Democrats want security too.  I mean, we started off with Steny saying, we want security also.  Everybody wants security.  And then we can go to comprehensive later on, and maybe that is a longer subject and a bigger subject, and I think we can get that done too.

But we’ll get it done at a later date.

Yes, ma’am.  Go ahead.

SENATOR HIRONO:  Mr. President, I’m Senator Hirono from Hawaii.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I know.

SENATOR HIRONO:  And as the only immigrant serving in the United States Senate right now, I would like nothing better than for us to get to comprehensive immigration reform.  But what I’m hearing around the table right now is a commitment to resolving the DACA situation because there is a sense of urgency.

You have put it out there that you want $18 billion for a wall or else there will be no DACA.  Is that still your position? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  I can build it for less, by the way.

SENATOR HIRONO:  But you want that wall? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I must tell you, I’m looking at these prices.  Somebody said $42 billion.  This is like the aircraft carrier.  It started off at a billion and a half, and it’s now at $18 billion.

No, we can do it for less.  We can do a great job.  We can do a great wall.  But you need the wall.  And I’m now getting involved.  I like to build under budget, okay?  I like to go under-budget, ahead of schedule. 

There’s no reason for seven years, also.  I heard the other day — please, don’t do that to me.  (Laughter.)  Seven years to build the wall.  We can build the wall in one year, and we can build it for much less money than what they’re talking about.  And any excess funds — and we’ll have a lot of — whether it’s a Wollman Rink or whether it’s any — I build under budget and I build ahead of schedule.  There is no reason to ever mention seven years again, please.  I heard that and I said — I wanted to come out with a major news conference, Tom, yesterday.

No.  It can go up quickly, it can go up effectively, and we can fix a lot of the areas right now that are really satisfactory if we renovate those walls. 

SENATOR HIRONO:  And can you tell us how many miles of wall you’re contemplating?  Whether it’s $17 million or $13 million or whatever is — can you tell us?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, we’re doing a study on that right now.  But there are large areas where you don’t need a wall because you have a mountain and you have a river — you have a violent river — and you don’t need it.  Okay?

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  Senator, I’m happy to come visit you this week to walk you through the numbers.

Q    I’m not the most politically astute person in the world, but it seems to me not much has actually changed here in terms of your position at this particular meeting.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think it’s changed.  I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.  I am very much reliant on the people in this room.  I know most of the people on both sides.  I have a lot of respect for the people on both sides.  And my — what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with.  I have great confidence in the people.  If they come to me with things that I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it because I respect them. 

Thank you all very much.

Q    Think you could beat Oprah, by the way?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I’ll beat Oprah.  Oprah would be a lot of fun.  I know her very well.  You know I did one of her last shows.  She had Donald Trump — this is before politics — her last week.  And she had Donald Trump and my family.  It was very nice.  No, I like Oprah.  I don’t think she’s going to run.  I don’t think she’s going to run.  I know her very well.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, it’s phase two.  I think comprehensive will be phase two.  I think — I really agree with Dick.  I think we get the one thing done and then we go into comprehensive the following day.  I think it’ll happen.

Thank you all very much.  I hope we’ve given you enough material.  That should cover you for about two weeks.  (Laughter.)

12:33 P.M. EST

See also: 

Trump/Sessions Anti-Immigrant Policy Requires Novel Theory of Constitution: Citizens Only 

NYS Takes Actions to Protect Immigrants from Trump Decision to End Temporary Protected Status

 

NYS Takes Actions to Protect Immigrants from Trump Decision to End Temporary Protected Status

Federal Government Ends TPS Status for 16,200 Salvadorans and Thousands of Haitians and Nicaraguans Currently Living in NYS

Governor Directs NYS Department of State to Increase Resources Available to Communities Across New York

Residents Seeking Information and Legal Counsel Urged to Call New Americans Hotline: 1-800-566-7636

Office for New American Outreach Centers, Liberty Defense Project to Increase Outreach

Statue of Liberty, New York City: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed the New York State Department of State to increase access to and offer additional resources for communities impacted by the Trump administration’s arbitrary decision to end Temporary Protected Status for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the New York State Department of State to increase access to and offer additional resources for communities impacted by the Trump administration’s arbitrary decision to end Temporary Protected Status for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. Of the 114,127 Salvadorans currently living in New York State, 16,200 are TPS beneficiaries and will be impacted by the federal government’s decision to end TPS recognition for the country.

“After fleeing a horrific natural disaster, Salvadorans found safe haven on our shores and have called the U.S. home for more than a decade. They have worked hard, paid taxes, bought homes, and had families – all in an effort to achieve the American Dream,” Governor Cuomo said. “This federal administration’s decision to tear families apart, disrupt small businesses, and lead those who have become part of the American fabric to an uncertain future, is disgraceful and unjust. We will work day in and day out to connect with impacted New Yorkers and make sure they know their rights and legal options in order to help protect these hard-working men and women.”

Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced it was ending TPS recognition for Salvadorans living in the U.S., effective September 9, 2019. El Salvador residents had been granted TPS since 2001, when an earthquake devastated the Central American country. The decision to end TPS for Salvadorans follows the Trump administration’s recent termination of TPS recognition for Haiti, impacting 50,000 individuals nationwide, and Nicaragua, impacting 2,800 individuals nationwide.

Governor Cuomo has directed the New York State Office for New Americans and the Liberty Defense Project – both hosted by the New York State Department of State – to increase outreach and communication efforts to impacted residents and communities across the state to ensure they understand their rights and legal options.

Since 1990, the United States has offered TPS to immigrants from 10 countries that have experienced civil unrest, violence, a natural disaster or an epidemic. Those who are granted TPS – approximately 342,570 individuals across the nation – have the legal right to reside and work in the United States. El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras constitute the countries with the most TPS beneficiaries in the U.S.

U.S. Representative Yvette Clark of the 9th District, who recently sponsored legislation to let every person covered by TPS on Jan. 1, 2017 apply for permanent residency by proving before a judge that they would face extreme hardship if forced to return home, said, “Our nation has welcomed TPS beneficiaries who fled unexpected and, in some cases, deplorable circumstances in their home countries, and has given them opportunity to flourish here in the U.S. These hard-working men, women, and their children have embraced their new lives and have become a part of the fabric of our nation. Many are business owners, hairdressers, teachers, nurses, and doctors. They are our neighbors and friends. I applaud the Governor’s continued commitment to these individuals and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him in protecting our communities.”

Jose Calderon, President of Hispanic Federation, said, “By terminating the Temporary Protected Status program to Salvadorans, the Trump administration has turned its back on America’s promise to be a haven for those unable to safely return to their home country. Ending TPS will not make us richer or safer. Instead it will damage our economy irreparably, heartlessly break up families, and destabilize established communities (nearly one-third of TPS holders own homes in their communities). We stand with Governor Cuomo and call on Congress to rectify this grave injustice immediately by passing legislation that would provide permanent residency for long-time TPS holders.”

Additional Resources and the New Americans Hotline

Anyone impacted by the TPS decision may contact the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. The toll-free, multilingual hotline provides live assistance in more than 200 languages. Anyone can call the hotline for information and referrals, regardless of citizenship or documented status. Calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous. The hotline operates from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays), and is managed by Catholic Charities Community Services.

The Office for New Americans’ 27 neighborhood-based Opportunity Centers, and lawyers specializing in immigration law and members of the Liberty Defense Project, will provide free up-to-date information and advice to TPS individuals from all affected countries and through individual consultations. The consultations can also provide guidance and screening for possible adjustment of immigration status.

To locate an Office for New Americans Opportunity Center, click here. To view the Office for New Americans Opportunity Centers Map, click here.

Upcoming Know Your Rights seminars and consultations will take place on the dates included below. Locations will be announced as soon as possible and made available through the hotline and online at: www.newamericans.ny.gov.

  • February 8 – Hispanic Federation and Make the Road New York
  • February 15 – Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and Hispanic Federation
  • February 22 – Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

The New York State Office for New Americans

Governor Cuomo established the Office for New Americans to assist newcomers to New York State who are eager to contribute to our economy and become part of the family of New York State. The New York State Office for New Americans helps New Americans fully participate in New York State civic and economic life.

The Office is committed to strengthening New York State’s welcoming environment for New Americans and facilitating their success by:

  • Creating a network of neighborhood-based “Opportunity” Centers;
  • Increasing access to English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages (ESOL) training;
  • Preparing New Americans for the naturalization process;
  • Connecting New Americans to business resources to harness their entrepreneurial spirit;
  • Developing and leveraging the professional skills of New Americans;
  • Strengthening the connections between New Americans and their communities through civic engagement and other opportunities;
  • Reduce exploitation of New Americans by scammers and con artists; and
  • Marshal State resources to better serve New Americans.

The New York State Liberty Defense Project

The Liberty Defense Project is the first-in-the-nation, state-led public-private project to assist immigrants, regardless of status, in obtaining access to legal services and process. In 2017, Governor Cuomo announced a historic $11.4 million investment in this project.

The Liberty Defense Project is administered by the state’s Office for New Americans and is run in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, major colleges and universities, and bar associations.

The Liberty Defense Project provides:

  • Free legal consultations and screenings for immigrants throughout New York State;
  • Direct representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings as well as other cases;
  • Help with filing immigration applications for naturalization, employment authorization, permanent residency, etc.; and
  • Know Your Rights trainings for immigrants and community at large.

Angela Fernandez, Esq, Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, said, “In light of the federal government’s termination of TPS for 277,000 El Salvadorians, we celebrate Governor Cuomo’s forethought in creating the Liberty Defense Program of the NYS Office of New Americans. The Liberty Defense Program allows organizations like ours, and other across the state, provide the highest quality immigration legal defense to those who are most disenfranchised.  And in this case, it will mean the difference between being deported or being able to remain in the only country many TPS holders call home.”

Elise Damas, Lawyer for Central American Refugee Center, said, “The federal government’s decision to end TPS will be disastrous for our Salvadoran neighbors across New York State, but in the face of this injustice we must stand up and fight. New York State has always welcomed new Americans and we will not allow anti-immigrant sentiments in Washington to change that.”

“New York is a beacon for immigrant rights, and our legal partners are critical to protecting these populations,” New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “The Office for New Americans and the Liberty Defense Project stand ready to assist our diverse immigrant communities in navigating the drastic changes put forth by the federal government.”

Donald Trump Issues Statement Disavowing Steve Bannon

Protestors outnumbered supporters as Trump’s limousine rides down the Pennsylvania Avenue for the inaugural parade, Jan. 20, 2017 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald Trump issued this statement concerning Steve Bannon:

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.

Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.

Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.

We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.

 

Trump/Sessions Anti-Immigrant Policy Requires Novel Theory of Constitution: Citizens Only

US Supreme Court Building, DC. The Trump/Sessions anti-immigration policy relies on a novel theory of the Constitution: that it does not apply to noncitizens © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The question that came to my mind as I listened to Natanya Briendel, director of the Westchester Division at the Pace Women’s Justice Center, speak at the monthly meeting of Reach Out America, a Long Island-based activist group, was how Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ roundups of undocumented immigrants rests on a concept that the Constitution – specifically due process – does not apply to non-citizens. Technically, then, any foreigner in the United States could be picked up and denied habeas corpus – the right to appear speedily in front of a judge, hear the charges and put up a defense.

She described situations where people are being rounded up based on an accusation, and if they are undocumented, immediately incarcerated and deported.  No warrant. No reasonable cause to justify a search. No right to legal counsel or even a hearing before a judge.

Even people who are claiming asylum based on escaping violence in their home country, are treated as if they were criminals.

The result has been sheer terror for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Why so many? Because Republicans going back to Reagan have refused to establish a workable immigration program; during Obama’s Administration, the House Republicans literally shoved a Comprehensive Immigration bill in the desk and never voted on it. Employers have benefited from having a pool of people who are abused, cheated, and treated like indentured servants.

Here in Long Island, we have an instance where just being Hispanic renders a high school student vulnerable to accusations of membership in the dreaded M-13 gang based on what colors you wear to school.

Donald Trump in his national security speech (really a rehash of his dystopian inaugural address), equates all immigrants as terrorists, regardless if they have lived, worked and paid taxes in the United States for decades, describing the need to shut off refugees, cancel DACA, end the possibility of family members obtaining legal status. Even individuals currently serving in the military, who were promised citizenship at the end of their tour, will be subject to deportation.

Our strategy advances four vital national interests.  First, we must protect the American people, the homeland, and our great American way of life.  This strategy recognizes that we cannot secure our nation if we do not secure our borders.  So for the first time ever, American strategy now includes a serious plan to defend our homeland.  It calls for the construction of a wall on our southern border; ending chain migration and the horrible visa and lottery programs; closing loopholes that undermine enforcement; and strongly supporting our Border Patrol agents, ICE officers, and Homeland Security personnel.”

The callousness, the stupidity, the sheer contradiction of American values, principles, and law.

Meanwhile, 12,762 DACA recipients – 122 a day – have lost their protected status since September 5, when President Trump rescinded the executive order that protected immigrants who arrived here as children from deportation, who were raised in the United States which is the only country they know. Trump gave a deadline of March, but the Republican Congress has shown it doesn’t actually care. Trump has reneged on the “deal” he appeared to make with Schumer and Pelosi; Democrats have threatened to use the only leverage they have – shutting down government by refusing to reauthorize a budget resolution – but that is unlikely.

Immigrants are no longer welcome. That is, unless the immigrant can buy a visa by investing $500,000 in a Trump family real estate venture,  or a migrant imported to work at Mar-a-Lago (when there are tens of thousands of Puerto Rican hotel workers who lost their jobs after Maria and have sought refuge in Florida – why is he not hiring them? Answer: because they can register to vote in Florida. After all, Puerto Ricans are American citizens.)

“Critics say that if passed, the reform [of the H-2A agricultural visa program] could lead to millions of virtually indentured workers,” writes Simon Davis-Cohen in Truthout. (“Republicans Push Bill to Strip Migrant Workers of Their Few Rights, Undercut US Workers”)

On the other hand, the way Trump and Sessions are inflicting their might, it means that undocumented individuals are no longer protected by law – they can be physically abused by a spouse, cheated by an employer of their wages, have their children taken from them without recourse to seek custody. They have no way of protecting their civil rights, their human rights, because the courthouse has become a locus for them to be snatched up by immigration officers. They are fearful to report crimes; certainly to warn officials of any terror threats.

Here on Long Island – the very place where Trump gave a speech suggesting that police officers don’t have to be “so nice” when they stuff someone into their patrol car, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office Monday, arguing that it lacks authority under state law to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Detainers ask local officers to hold immigrants after they would otherwise be released from custody. This suit seeks the release of Susai Francis, a resident of Long Island for 21 years, where he has raised two sons, who should have been released after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct but instead was being held for ICE in a Suffolk County jail.

“Not only should local law enforcement reject the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, but state law is also clear that local law enforcement can’t violate people’s rights in order to do ICE’s bidding,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The role of local law enforcement is to protect and serve all New Yorkers, and that is incompatible with the unlawful detention of our neighbors and family members at the behest of the Trump deportation machine.”

The day before Trump gave his national security speech calling again for a border wall and shutting down immigration, and offering not a crumb of possibility of the comprehensive immigration reform that should have been in place for 30 years so that people can get some legal status and not live in the shadows where they can be exploited, was United Nations International Migrants Day. Not a peep from the White House. Instead, the United States announced it would end participation in the UN process to develop a Global Compact on Migration (GCM) based on the claim that it would undermine “sovereignty”.

With civil war, ethnic conflict, gang violence, drought, famine, floods, wildfires and climate disasters, there are the largest number of refugees and displaced people in numbers not seen since World War II: 40 8 million displaced people worldwide as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2015; an estimated 64 million are impacted by climate.

(Trump, in his national security speech, dismissed climate change as a national security threat, suggesting instead that increasing American energy production would be the counter balance.)

Immigrants are lumped together.  “You think the countries are giving us their best people? No. What kind of a system is that?”Trump said at a press conference. “They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand when he’s picking them is really the worst of the worst.”

Trump’s view – big on a wall stretching along the southern border, a travel ban which shuts down access from six Muslim majority nations (none of which have been responsible for terrorism in the US), reducing the number of refugees who will be accepted to a trickle (45,000) while threatening to throw out others (Haitians, Nicaraguans) – is to pull up the drawbridge, much like the Soviet Union’s Iron Curtain or China’s Bamboo Curtain, and keep us equally isolated and ignorant, reciting the Trump mantra of America’s Greatness.

Combined with banning words and phrases at agencies, scrubbing reports and websites, spying on federal workers, Trump’s declaration is more ominous: “With this strategy, we are calling for a great reawakening of America, a resurgence of confidence, and a rebirth of patriotism, prosperity, and pride.

It is more: the disdain for civil rights for noncitizens within our borders means that the Trump Doctrine, which we now know is purely transactional, means that there is zero interest in upholding human rights.

“We want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity.  We will make new partnerships with those who share our goals, and make common interests into a common cause.  We will not allow inflexible ideology to become an obsolete and obstacle to peace.”

Trump’s view, enabled by the Republican Congress, is so warped. But there is another way: reauthorize DACA with a path to citizenship; provide legal status (not citizenship) for people who came illegally but who have worked and made homes here and have no significant criminal record, particularly the parents of DACA recipients and American children; have vetting for travelers, but accept travelers; exercise moral responsibility in accepting refugees, helping resettle refugees, and contributing funds toward refugee communities. And participate in the world to reduce the causes for refugees, migrants and immigrants: help end the conflicts and violence that sets people on their precarious journey; address climate change that is resulting in communities being uninhabitable; and advance the quality of life in these countries.

None of these generators of the desperation that motivates people to uproot their lives and take a treacherous journey to a strange place are satisfied by Trump’s “national security strategy” which puts American First and to hell with the rest of the world.

_________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Trump National Security Strategy: Up With the Wall, Down with Climate Action, Human Rights

Donald Trump outlines the Trump Doctrine in his National Security Strategy speech © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Donald Trump’s “National Security Strategy” speech which he delivered at the Reagan Building on Dec. 18 is a rehash of his inaugural address which painted a dystopian view of the nation (“carnage”) and the world. He suggests that he is the first president to care about national security: “So for the first time ever, American strategy now includes a serious plan to defend our homeland.” Notably, Trump’s national security strategy ignores the biggest national security threat the nation faces: climate change. He uses the speech to further his anti-immigrant policy, to again call for a wall, to advance tax cuts, and a policy of “liberating” the economy by eliminating regulations.

Combined with banning words and phrases at agencies like the CDC, scrubbing reports and websites from the EPA, spying on federal workers, Trump’s declaration is more ominous: “With this strategy, we are calling for a great reawakening of America, a resurgence of confidence, and a rebirth of patriotism, prosperity, and pride.”

While George W. Bush’s national security strategy boiled down to preemption, the Trump Doctrine is purely transactional, means that there is zero interest in upholding human rights.

“We want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity.  We will make new partnerships with those who share our goals, and make common interests into a common cause.  We will not allow inflexible ideology to become an obsolete and obstacle to peace.”

China blasted Trump’s national security strategy saying, “It is completely selfish for a country to claim that its own interests are superior to the interests of other countries and to the shared interests of the international community. This mentality will only lead to isolation,” the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

“We call on the United States to abandon its outdated zero-sum thinking, and work together with China to seek common ground and engage in win-win cooperation,” the embassy said.

Here is a highlighted and annotated White House transcript:

December 18, 2017

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

ON THE ADMINISTRATION’S

NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

Washington, D.C.

2:03 P.M. EST

…We’re here today to discuss matters of vital importance to us all:  America’s security, prosperity, and standing in the world.  I want to talk about where we’ve been, where we are now, and, finally, our strategy for where we are going in the years ahead.

Over the past 11 months, I have traveled tens of thousands of miles to visit 13 countries.  I have met with more than 100 world leaders.  I have carried America’s message to a grand hall in Saudi Arabia, a great square in Warsaw, to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and to the seat of democracy on the Korean Peninsula.  Everywhere I traveled, it was my highest privilege and greatest honor to represent the American people.

Throughout our history, the American people have always been the true source of American greatness.  Our people have promoted our culture and promoted our values.  Americans have fought and sacrificed on the battlefields all over the world.  We have liberated captive nations, transformed former enemies into the best of friends, and lifted entire regions of the planet from poverty to prosperity.

Because of our people, America has been among the greatest forces for peace and justice in the history of the world.  The American people are generous.  You are determined, you are brave, you are strong, and you are wise.

When the American people speak, all of us should listen.  And just over one year ago, you spoke loud and you spoke clear.  On November 8, 2016, you voted to make America great again.  (Applause.)  You embraced new leadership and very new strategies, and also a glorious new hope.  That is why we are here today.

But to seize the opportunities of the future, we must first understand the failures of the past.  For many years, our citizens watched as Washington politicians presided over one disappointment after another.  To many of our leaders — so many who forgot whose voices they were to respect and whose interests they were supposed to defend — our leaders in Washington negotiated disastrous trade deals that brought massive profits to many foreign nations, but sent thousands of American factories, and millions of American jobs, to those other countries.

Our leaders engaged in nation-building abroad, while they failed to build up and replenish our nation at home.  They undercut and shortchanged our men and women in uniform with inadequate resources, unstable funding, and unclear missions.  They failed to insist that our often very wealthy allies pay their fair share for defense, putting a massive and unfair burden on the U.S. taxpayer and our great U.S. military.

They neglected a nuclear menace in North Korea; made a disastrous, weak, and incomprehensibly bad deal with Iran; and allowed terrorists such as ISIS to gain control of vast parts of territory all across the Middle East.

They put American energy under lock and key.  They imposed punishing regulations and crippling taxes.  They surrendered our sovereignty to foreign bureaucrats in faraway and distant capitals.

And over the profound objections of the American people, our politicians left our borders wide open.  Millions of immigrants entered illegally.  Millions more were admitted into our country without the proper vetting needed to protect our security and our economy.  Leaders in Washington imposed on the country an immigration policy that Americans never voted for, never asked for, and never approved — a policy where the wrong people are allowed into our country and the right people are rejected.  American citizens, as usual, have been left to bear the cost and to pick up the tab. 

On top of everything else, our leaders drifted from American principles.  They lost sight of America’s destiny.  And they lost their belief in American greatness.  As a result, our citizens lost something as well.  The people lost confidence in their government and, eventually, even lost confidence in their future.

But last year, all of that began to change.  The American people rejected the failures of the past.  You rediscovered your voice and reclaimed ownership of this nation and its destiny.

On January 20th, 2017, I stood on the steps of the Capitol to herald the day the people became the rulers of their nation again.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Now, less than one year later, I am proud to report that the entire world has heard the news and has already seen the signs.  America is coming back, and America is coming back strong.

Upon my inauguration, I announced that the United States would return to a simple principle:  The first duty of our government is to serve its citizens, many of whom have been forgotten.  But they are not forgotten anymore.  With every decision and every action, we are now putting America first.

We are rebuilding our nation, our confidence, and our standing in the world.  We have moved swiftly to confront our challenges, and we have confronted them head-on.

We are once again investing in our defense — almost $700 billion, a record, this coming year.  We are demanding extraordinary strength, which will hopefully lead to long and extraordinary peace.  We are giving our courageous military men and women the support they need and so dearly deserve.

We have withdrawn the United States from job-killing deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the very expensive and unfair Paris Climate Accord.  And on our trip to Asia last month, I announced that we will no longer tolerate trading abuse.

We have established strict new vetting procedures to keep terrorists out of the United States, and our vetting is getting tougher each month.

To counter Iran and block its path to a nuclear weapon, I sanctioned the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support of terrorism, and I declined to certify the Iran Deal to Congress.

Following my trip to the Middle East, the Gulf states and other Muslim-majority nations joined together to fight radical Islamist ideology and terrorist financing.  We have dealt ISIS one devastating defeat after another.  The coalition to defeat ISIS has now recaptured almost 100 percent of the land once held by these terrorists in Iraq and Syria.  Great job.  (Applause.)  Great job.  Really good.  Thank you.  Thank you.  We have a great military.  We’re now chasing them wherever they flee, and we will not let them into the United States.

In Afghanistan, our troops are no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies of our plans.  We are beginning to see results on the battlefield.  And we have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory.  And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan.  They have to help.

Our efforts to strengthen the NATO Alliance set the stage for significant increases in member contributions, with tens of billions of dollars more pouring in because I would not allow member states to be delinquent in the payment while we guarantee their safety and are willing to fight wars for them.  We have made clear that countries that are immensely wealthy should reimburse the United States for the cost of defending them.  This is a major departure from the past, but a fair and necessary one — necessary for our country, necessary for our taxpayer, necessary for our own thought process.

Our campaign of maximum pressure on the North Korean regime has resulted in the toughest-ever sanctions.  We have united our allies in an unprecedented effort to isolate North Korea.  However, there is much more work to do.  America and its allies will take all necessary steps to achieve a denuclearization and ensure that this regime cannot threaten the world.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  This situation should have been taken care of long before I got into office, when it was much easier to handle.  But it will be taken care of.  We have no choice.

At home, we are keeping our promises and liberating the American economy.  We have created more than 2 million jobs since the election.  Unemployment is at a 17-year-low.  The stock market is at an all-time high and, just a little while ago, hit yet another all-time high — the 85th time since my election.  (Applause.)

We have cut 22 regulations for every one new regulation, the most in the history of our country.  We have unlocked America’s vast energy resources.

As the world watches — and the world is indeed watching — we are days away from passing historic tax cuts for American families and businesses.  It will be the biggest tax cut and tax reform in the history of our country.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

And we are seeing the response we fully expected.  Economic growth has topped 3 percent for two quarters in a row.  GDP growth, which is way ahead of schedule under my administration, will be one of America’s truly greatest weapons.

Optimism has surged.  Confidence has returned.  With this new confidence, we are also bringing back clarity to our thinking.  We are reasserting these fundamental truths:

A nation without borders is not a nation.  (Applause.)

A nation that does not protect prosperity at home cannot protect its interests abroad.

A nation that is not prepared to win a war is a nation not capable of preventing a war.

A nation that is not proud of its history cannot be confident in its future.

And a nation that is not certain of its values cannot summon the will to defend them.

Today, grounded in these truths, we are presenting to the world our new National Security Strategy.  Based on my direction, this document has been in development for over a year.  It has the endorsement of my entire Cabinet.

Our new strategy is based on a principled realism, guided by our vital national interests, and rooted in our timeless values.

This strategy recognizes that, whether we like it or not, we are engaged in a new era of competition.  We accept that vigorous military, economic, and political contests are now playing out all around the world.

We face rogue regimes that threaten the United States and our allies.  We face terrorist organizations, transnational criminal networks, and others who spread violence and evil around the globe.

We also face rival powers, Russia and China, that seek to challenge American influence, values, and wealth.  We will attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries, but in a manner that always protects our national interest.

As an example, yesterday I received a call from President Putin of Russia thanking our country for the intelligence that our CIA was able to provide them concerning a major terrorist attack planned in St. Petersburg, where many people, perhaps in the thousands, could have been killed.  They were able to apprehend these terrorists before the event, with no loss of life.  And that’s a great thing, and the way it’s supposed to work.  That is the way it’s supposed to work.

But while we seek such opportunities of cooperation, we will stand up for ourselves, and we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

We know that American success is not a forgone conclusion.  It must be earned and it must be won.  Our rivals are tough, they’re tenacious, and committed to the long term.  But so are we. 

To succeed, we must integrate every dimension of our national strength, and we must compete with every instrument of our national power.

Under the Trump administration, America is gaining wealth, leading to enhanced power — faster than anyone thought — with $6 trillion more in the stock market alone since the election — $6 trillion.

With the strategy I am announcing today, we are declaring that America is in the game and America is going to win.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Our strategy advances four vital national interests.  First, we must protect the American people, the homeland, and our great American way of life.  This strategy recognizes that we cannot secure our nation if we do not secure our borders.  So for the first time ever, American strategy now includes a serious plan to defend our homeland.  It calls for the construction of a wall on our southern border; ending chain migration and the horrible visa and lottery programs; closing loopholes that undermine enforcement; and strongly supporting our Border Patrol agents, ICE officers, and Homeland Security personnel.  (Applause.)

In addition, our strategy calls for us to confront, discredit, and defeat radical Islamic terrorism and ideology and to prevent it from spreading into the United States.  And we will develop new ways to counter those who use new domains, such as cyber and social media, to attack our nation or threaten our society.

The second pillar of our strategy is to promote American prosperity.  For the first time, American strategy recognizes that economic security is national security.  Economic vitality, growth, and prosperity at home is absolutely necessary for American power and influence abroad.  Any nation that trades away its prosperity for security will end up losing both.

That is why this National Security Strategy emphasizes, more than any before, the critical steps we must take to ensure the prosperity of our nation for a long, long time to come.

It calls for cutting taxes and rolling back unnecessary regulations.  It calls for trade based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity.  It calls for firm action against unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft.  And it calls for new steps to protect our national security industrial and innovation base.

The strategy proposes a complete rebuilding of American infrastructure — our roads, bridges, airports, waterways, and communications infrastructure.  And it embraces a future of American energy dominance and self-sufficiency.

[Where is the money coming from? Where is the $300 billion to rebuild after 2017 climate disasters?] 

The third pillar of our strategy is to preserve peace through strength.  (Applause.)  We recognize that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unrivaled power is the most certain means of defense.  For this reason, our strategy breaks from the damaging defense sequester.  We’re going to get rid of that.  (Applause.)

It calls for a total modernization of our military, and reversing previous decisions to shrink our armed forces — even as threats to national security grew.  It calls for streamlining acquisition, eliminating bloated bureaucracy, and massively building up our military, which has the fundamental side benefit of creating millions and millions of jobs.

This strategy includes plans to counter modern threats, such as cyber and electromagnetic attacks.  It recognizes space as a competitive domain and calls for multi-layered missile defense.  (Applause.)  This strategy outlines important steps to address new forms of conflict such as economic and political aggression.

[He signaled his interest in militarizing space in his call to Americans in the international space station.]

And our strategy emphasizes strengthening alliances to cope with these threats.  It recognizes that our strength is magnified by allies who share principles — and our principles — and shoulder their fair share of responsibility for our common security.

Fourth and finally, our strategy is to advance American influence in the world, but this begins with building up our wealth and power at home.

America will lead again.  We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but we will champion the values without apology.  We want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity.  We will make new partnerships with those who share our goals, and make common interests into a common cause.  We will not allow inflexible ideology to become an obsolete and obstacle to peace. 

[America was leading just fine under Obama – ie. Paris Climate Agreement, Iran Nuclear Agreement, getting Syria to get rid of chemical weapons, TPP. Second: he is talking about purely transactional agreements, the US will no longer be bothered defending human rights.]

We will pursue the vision we have carried around the world over this past year — a vision of strong, sovereign, and independent nations that respect their citizens and respect their neighbors; nations that thrive in commerce and cooperation, rooted in their histories and branching out toward their destinies.

That is the future we wish for this world, and that is the future we seek in America.  (Applause.)

With this strategy, we are calling for a great reawakening of America, a resurgence of confidence, and a rebirth of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. 

[By that he means a return to McCarthyism.]

And we are returning to the wisdom of our founders.  In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign.  What we have built here in America is precious and unique.  In all of history, never before has freedom reigned, the rule of law prevailed, and the people thrived as we have here for nearly 250 years.

We must love and defend it.  We must guard it with vigilance and spirit, and, if necessary, like so many before us, with our very lives.  And we declare that our will is renewed, our future is regained, and our dreams are restored.

Every American has a role to play in this grand national effort.  And today, I invite every citizen to take their part in our vital mission.  Together, our task is to strengthen our families, to build up our communities, to serve our citizens, and to celebrate American greatness as a shining example to the world.

 [Jingoism] 

As long as we are proud — and very proud — of who we are, how we got here, and what we are fighting for to preserve, we will not fail.

If we do all of this, if we rediscover our resolve and commit ourselves to compete and win again, then together we will leave our children and our grandchildren a nation that is stronger, better, freer, prouder, and, yes, an America that is greater than ever before.

God Bless You.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                 2:32 P.M. EST

White House Messagers Sugar Coat Trump/Republican Tax Plan, Invoking ‘American Dream’

The US Treasury building is literally next door to the White House. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that over 100 people in Treasury are “working around the clock on running scenarios for us,” to prove that the Republican tax cuts would pay for themselves and benefit middle class families, but never produced the analysis, beyond a single-page of hopeful assumptions. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

During a press call previewing Donald Trump’s “closing message to the American people” about the glories of the Republican tax plan supported by less than 25% of Americans, Trump’s leading “messagers” – the people charged with making the deal palatable – had to “research” the American Dream, as if they had never heard of the concept before:

“At the president’s direction, we did research into the concept of American Dream,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Tony Sayegh. “It is interesting what we found, where the concept came from and what it meant. And part was that in the United States, you were not destined to die in the same income class you were born into, children were not destined to have same quality of life that you had, people had the ability to rise. This was unique thing in world history. Most of the world, most of history, born in a certain class and died in that class, children were born and died in same economic class. America [brought the] idea of economic opportunity for all.”

But now, he said with dubious accuracy because this same criticism has arisen since the Reagan “Revolution”, if he in fact bothered to research, “for first time in American history, parents no longer think their children will be better off. …We will bring back the American spirit, that’s what president likes to talk about it. Consumer confidence is at all time high. That kind of optimism is at the core of the message.”

He asserted, “We’re nearing a historic moment in which we will decide the economic future of the nation. We have the power to reject [the notion]  that 2% growth is the new normal and the majority of Americans for first time in history will lose faith that next generation will do better…[We want an] economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy and well connected….Ultimately message will be that middle class will no longer just be getting by, finally have the opportunity to get ahead, and that’s what will Make America Great Again.”

When asked about the scores of economists and experts who have challenged the theory that the tax cuts to the wealthiest and corporations will trickle down to working people, that the cumulative impact of the tax plan will hurt working class and middle class Americans, upset the very mechanisms that promote the American Dream (education, health care, home ownership), that it will result in $1.5 trillion added to the national debt which will result in cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and that large majority of Americans oppose the tax plan, White House message strategy director Cliff Sims went on the attack:

”I encourage you to spend a little less time reading [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer’s talking points, and more time reading the plan [which has yet to be finalized or scored]. This plan offers a lot for the middle class…. [The plan] substantially increased child tax credit, $1000 now to $1600 or $2000; nearly doubles standard deduction so a married couple can take $24,000 tax free and more if they itemize; it lowers the tax rate so more income is taxed at lower rates… Quite frankly anyone who says otherwise is purposefully disingenuous or taking a partisan line that doesn’t meet the reality.”

Sayegh  added, “Analysis and studies. The Council of Economic Advisors reported a month ago clearly demonstrates what we are doing on corporate side helps workers, because workers absorb the greatest burden when corporate taxes are high… We know that through analysis, the average worker gets anywhere $4000-$9000.. after policies implemented – because there is a more productive and investment-friendly environment when corporations can compete with significantly lower rate. It is a benefit to hardworking Americans, the American worker.”

Asked where was the analysis that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said  “over 100 people in Treasury are “working around the clock on running scenarios for us,,” Sims said that Treasury “in very rare instances will ever release analysis of a bill that has not already been voted on and passed because as anyone who has followed process understands, there are two bills – House, Senate –there are  differences between them and a final bill will be voted on.”

Sayegh also pushed back against polling which shows the vast majority of Americans believe the tax plan substantially favors the wealthy over working people, pointing to rolling back the estate tax and eliminating the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax), by which Trump in 2005, in the only 2 pages of his tax returns revealed to the public, shows that he would have saved $30 million in tax payments but for the AMT.

“We’ve poured through this from a lot of angles, political strategy and public opinion. It is abundantly clear that almost every poll nationally cited – CBS, Quinnipiac, Marist – is deliberately trying to shake and manipulate public opinion and not accurately reflect it. Quinnipiac uses a methodology where only 20% of respondents are Republican, 33% are Democrats, 38% are independents –a  preposterous formula. Negative of 12% between Democrats and Republicans is not close to reality – so does not reflect public opinion.”

Sims added “The more people learn about specifics, the more they love it. 61% to 21% supported it after learning we are doubling the standard deduction from $12 to $24K, 54% support only 14% oppose the child tax credit, 54% support only 18% oppose after being informed of basic provisions. Does anyone on the planet not believe Americans don’t want lower taxes, a fairer corporate tax rate that will create more jobs and higher wages? When polls get into specifics…support goes through the roof. When you have polls that try to manipulate, push questions, you get numbers you can put in Chiron or story to manipulate public opinion, but not reflect what Americans feel.”

Except that polling only specific, popular provisions (who doesn’t want higher standard deduction), does not put the whole picture into view: the higher premiums likely to come when the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act is eliminated; the personhood provision; drilling in the Arctic National Refuge; taxing graduate school fellowships as income; eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes and significantly limiting the mortgage interest deduction, and adding more than $1 trillion to the national debt, which will trigger cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, curtail investment and infrastructure spending.

And no one has asked where the $300 billion to pay for disaster relief just from the 2017 climate catastrophes will come from, or why the Republicans have refused to reauthorize CHIP, which provides access to health care for 9 million children and pregnant mothers.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan and others have said that the tax plan – precisely because it adds more than $1 trillion to the national debt – will be followed next year by cuts to “entitlements.”

And Trump, in his tax speech in St. Louis said:

“Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history; healthcare, phenomenal healthcare. I know you don’t want this — welfare reform. Does anybody want welfare reform? (Applause.) And infrastructure. But welfare reform — I see it and I’ve talked to people. I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.) So we’re going to go into welfare reform…”

See also:

Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’ Is Vision of New Reality in Trump’s America Where Money is Entitlement

Republican Tax Scam: They Don’t Care 85% Oppose. Here’s Why

Republican Tax Plan is Attack on Blue States; Fight Back by Holding Money ‘in Escrow’

Ready the Revolution: GOP Tax Plan Decimates Middle-Class, Gives Rise to New American Aristocracy

Trump Selling Tax Plan in Missouri, the Show Me State: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

Democrats Should Shut Down Government over Republican Tax Scam

_________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

NY, CA, NJ Governors Assail Republican Tax Plan as ‘Evil in the Extreme,’ a Wrench to Nation’s Economic Engine

Blue State governors including New York’s Andrew Cuomo hope their Republican Congressmembers will do the right thing for their constituents; otherwise, they raise the specter of court challenges to Republican Tax Plan © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Governors of New York and California and the Governor-Elect of New Jersey and California joined forces to condemn the Republican tax plan as a “stake in the heart” of the nation’s economic engine, a cynical ploy to punish Democratic-majority states, and only the first-step toward generating such an increase in the national debt to justify cuts in Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, CHIP and other social programs, and threatened to challenge the legality of elements of the tax plan should it become law.

In a joint press call, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, California Governor Jerry Brown and New Jersey Governor-Elect Phil Murphy and using phrases such as “evil,”  “nefarious” and “cynical,” raised issues of the legality of elements of the Republican tax plan, which shifts $1.5 trillion in wealth from middle class and working families to the wealthy  – indeed, 50% of the tax cuts go directly into the pocket of the top 1% – through lowered tax rates, elimination of the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax), reductions if not elimination in the Estate Tax (which only impacts 2 out of 1000 families now), and new rules enabling the wealthiest to shelter tax through pass-throughs.

But the Republicans pay for the cuts by largely eliminating or significantly reducing the deductibility of state and local taxes, including property taxes, effectively double-taxing, something that has not existed since income taxes were first implemented in 1913, which disproportionately targets 12 states that happen to vote Democratic and also happen to be the donor states that account for 40% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). A similar effort during the 1986 Reagan tax reform effort was defeated by both Republicans and Democrats. The governors say this may be challenged as unconstitutional double-taxation.

Other provisions, such as establishing a legal framework for “personhood” may also be challenged as unconstitutional.

The way the Republican tax plan is structured, it shifts wealth from the 12 “donor” (Democratic-majority) states, to the rest of the country, by eliminating or dramatically reducing the tax deductibility of state and local taxes, including property taxes. In effect, it makes those states structurally uncompetitive by effectively increasing taxes by 20-25 percent for homeowners, may reduce home values by that amount, as well as make it difficult for schools (which account for 60-65% of New Yorkers’ property taxes and 40% of California’s) to raise the revenue they need to property function. But while individuals lose the deductibility of SALT, corporations do not.

In a further blow to public education and stripping away of the separation of Church & State, the Republicans would allow the tax-exempt 529 funds, created to fund college, to be used for K-12 education for parochial and private schools, even homeschooling. (This is on top of repealing the Johnson Amendment, opening floodgates of “charitable” contributions to religious institutions to become political PACs; a particularly insidious breach of the Constitution’s Establishment clause because the religious leader preaching from the pulpit has a special ability to coerce.

The governors held at the hope that the wildly unpopular Congress (only 13% approval) and the most unpopular president in history (33% approval), will recognize the tax plan is similarly wildly unpopular, with barely 20% support, and that Republican Congressmen who have to stand for election in 2018, will do what is best for their constituents.

The Senate version, which eliminates the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), would result in 13 million more people without health insurance by 2025, and 10 percent annual increases in premiums on everyone else.

The bill also “pays” for the tax cuts to the richest Americans and corporations by eliminating the deductibility of student loan interest, tax credits for renewable energy, and opens the way for drilling in the Arctic National Refuge, and other provisions which help the upward mobility of working families and middle class striving to achieve the American Dream.

The governors held out a glimmer of hope that enough of the Republicans (the only ones who voted in favor of the tax plan) would vote for their constituents’ interests.

“The tax plan that passed Senate, the House, and is headed to reconciliation, is a long way from done. It is a fraud on the American people. They talk about tax cuts for middle class and working people, but what it is, is tax cut for the rich – 50% of the tax cuts go to the top 1%. That’s an inarguable fact. Their theory isn’t new or novel. It’s ‘trickle down’ on steroids.” He argued that instead of corporations taking their tax cuts to raise wages for workers or create more jobs  through investment, corporations in the past have pocketed the extra cash or used it to buy back stock (raising the share prices) or paying dividends.

“To add insult to injury,” Cuomo said. “the tax cut is then targeted at 12 states that happen to be Blue States where they target eliminating state and local deductions. People don’t understand what that will do, but it will be devastating for states. In essence, it is an increase in property taxes and state income tax only on those 12 states. It puts us at a structurally competitive disadvantage because structurally our taxes will be higher.” That gives residents additional complaint about their government (Republicans even now charge that New York’s taxes are high because of mismanagement, or lavish spending on services). Cuomo countered the claim by Republicans that the poorer states somehow subsidize the public services of the richer states.  New York, California and New Jersey are donor states, which means we put more into the [federal] till than we take out. This aggravates and enhances the injustice where we are subsidizing the other states, and now you’re using New York and New Jersey as a piggybank to finance tax cuts in other states.

“That amounts to political retaliation through the tax code. That’s why they passed it with only their own votes,” Cuomo charged.

California Governor Jerry Brown assailed the Republican tax plan saying, “the most immediate evil of this cynical maneuver called the tax bill is to further divide America when we are at one of our most divisive periods in history. The idea that a president and representatives only in the majority would use that power to penalize 12 states – most of which voted strongly against this president– is not going to bring country together. We are divided while some of our most important competitors are getting more unified, authoritarian. We need to come together. This will further divide blue states from red, Democrats from Republicans. It is evil in the extreme. It exacerbates inequality….It’s not right. It won’t stand.”

New Jersey Governor-Elect Philip Murphy further expounded on the devastating impact in terms of widening inequality and continuing down the awful path of us vs Washington leadership.

“It is based on the trickle down theory, which we have seen time and again doesn’t work. Executives get paid better, the gap between the top of corporate food chain and bottom widens; shareholders benefit from buybacks while working people are neglected. It is a scam at the ultimate extreme. On more than one occasion we all heard, when asked for the rationale, the awful answer [from Republicans] was ‘it is our donors, our donor base will dry up if we don’t.’ We saw the chaos Friday night, literally lobbyists hand-writing in pen, amending the bill. This is as bad as it gets.

“But in a ‘glass half full’ sense, as Governor Cuomo stated,  It’s not over yet. This is the ninth inning. Each of our states have Republican House members. This is beyond Republican, Democrat; it is a clear question of whether you are representing the constituents who elected you. Black & white.”

“The changes in the SALT deduction, are particularly problematic, Murphy said. “That’s been part of the tax code since income tax became legal in 1913. For over 100 years, Congress realized taxing people twice is unfair. We are the biggest odnor states in terms of the federal money we give. This will only make it worse.

“The stronger we are together, the more numbers, the more locked arms, we fight together as a team. There is a lot to be said for that. I am honored to be with you.”

Asked what actions, beyond political pressure on Republican members of Congress, the governors might take, they said that just as the Republicans, the day after Obamacare was signed into law, pledged to repeal and replace, they would also take whatever means – even court challenges– to repeal and replace this tax law.

“We’re looking at the legality now. [SALT deductions] has been in the tax code since it started over 100 years ago. This is double taxation – they are taxing taxes, this from the party that’s against taxation, redistribution [or what Republicans used to condemn as “class warfare”]. This is redistribution in an exponential form –taking from richer states and subsidizing a tax cut in less wealthy states. Hypocritical. Everything they said were against: double-taxation, taxing tax for first time, redistribution state to state, so may well be illegal, unconstitutional. We’re looking at it.”

“There may be some legal action but this is a quintessentially political challenge,” Governor Brown stated. “Our job is to communicate the fraudulent and nefarious character of this tax bill – the way it proceeded, which John McCain said follows no normal pathway. We want to make sure our members of Congress know they are hurting New York, California, New Jersey but also hurting America. We are the key elements of America’s engine of prosperity, and when Trump and his allies attack New York, New Jersey, California, they are attacking the vital seams of the American economy. That’s stupid. They will regret it, and we will do everything we can to convince our Republican representatives that the right thing to do is defeat.

Murphy said they are working with state Attorneys General “to tear up all the floor boards, to the fullest extent of law, and challenge this. There are 500 pages of amendments, a lot handwritten. I am betting there are flaws, holes. If we don’t succeed in the next few days, we will have to take this to the limit.

“This is double taxation and I’m not sure it’s legal,” said Cuomo. “We will find out if it is. But Governor Brown’s point is that it is counterproductive. These 12 states are 40% of GDP. If you say this will help the American economy, how do you do that by assaulting 12 states that are 40% of GDP: this will be negative for our states and regional economies. No doubt about that.”

“Attacking the innovation of NY, CA, NJ and others is just a dumb move, only explained by the desperate situation the Republican leadership find themselves,” Governor Brown added. “This president is the most unpopular is history. They are riding a dead horse in this tax bill, acting irrationally, not in interest of country, throwing a wrench into engine of economy.”

“The more people understand, the more people understand how unfair, divisive and harmful it is to them individually,” Cuomo commented. “The problem is, there is so much news, so much happening. This is so complicated – elimination of state and local taxes but the more people understand it, the more they are against it. Congresspeople and Senators ultimately have to go home, and if they vote for this, they are voting against the interests of their constituents, and they have election next year. Ultimately democracy works. A congressperson who votes for this, there’s no going home again.

“I’m an optimist for the simple reason that we all believe in a different America than this bill articulates,” Murphy said. “The more people understand what’s in this thing, the more actively they push back. What it will do for higher education by repealing tax deduction for student loans, stripping credits for renewable energy, opening Arctic to drilling, on and on –repealing the individual mandate in ACA – the more people realize what’s at stake, the more collectively they say this can’t go forward.

Largely eliminating the SALT deductions, Cuomo said, contradicts the Republican claim their tax plan is supposed to spur the economy. “But targeting 40% of GDP, then saying that’s how you are going to spur economy, by putting arrow into economic heart of these 12 states? There are predictions it will drop the value of homes in our states because property taxes in effect will go up 20-25% over night. If you drop the value of homes, disrupt the whole financial system. Mortgage foreclosures. I don’t think they understand what they are doing.

“We talk about [eliminating SALT deductions] as if it were a new concept,” Governor Cuomo said. “It’s not new. They proposed eliminating SALT during Reagan’s time. At that time, Democrats and Republicans both said it was wrong and defeated it. The difference now is the political extremism and their willingness to divide, and the political extremes they will go to.

“This is only step one of their plan – we know what their plan is, because not new, we’ve seen the playbook. Step one is tax cuts for the rich. Step 2, is to drive up the debt, the deficit, and then come back and say we have $1.5 trillion debt that we created (by cutting taxes for rich), and now we have this debt, we have to address it by cutting government spending. Where will they go? The right to Medicaid, healthcare for poor people. The right to CHIP for poor children, Right to housing programs, food stamps, etc. That’s inevitable. They are creating the debt that will then justify their philosophical step to cut government spending to hurt the poorest Americans.”

“Look at this in its entirety, beyond SALT,” Murphy added. “This is their way to cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security. It is the height of hypocrisy from the so-called deficit hawks. Look at higher education and student loans, Obamacare individual mandate, Seen result of trickle down. Pass through. Taken in its entirety, the Republican tax plan is exceedingly damaging not just to our states, but entire country.”

“Republicans saw Obamacare passed and the next day they started Repeal & Replace,” Cuomo said. “If they do this, the next day, we will start the repeal and replace of the divisive Tax Act.”

None of them mentioned, but should have, the increasing pressures on the federal government for disaster relief from climate catastrophes (hundreds of billions of dollars in 2017 alone), the need to address the opioid crisis, and to rebuild and mitigate infrastructure.

See also:

Republican Tax Scam: They Don’t Care 85% Oppose. Here’s Why

Republican Tax Plan is Attack on Blue States; Fight Back by Holding Money ‘in Escrow’

Ready the Revolution: GOP Tax Plan Decimates Middle-Class, Gives Rise to New American Aristocracy

Trump Selling Tax Plan in Missouri, the Show Me State: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

Democrats Should Shut Down Government over Republican Tax Scam

________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump Selling Tax Plan in Missouri, the Show Me State: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

I was watching “The President’s Show” Christmas special (Anthony Atamanuik does a brilliant impersonation of Donald Trump)  and happened to switch back to MSNBC’s coverage of Trump’s speech in Missouri in which he extolls how great the Republican tax plan is and quite frankly, could not tell the difference between which was the satire and which the actual speech. See for yourself: President Trump Tax Reform Speech In St Louis 11/29/17 – YouTube

 46:09

Every fact checker has given Donald Trump’s speech at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri on the Republican tax cuts scheme four-Pinnochios, most especially for his absurd declarations that the proposed cuts would hurt him and his rich buddies. Here’s just a small sample:

President Trump says the tax bill will ‘cost me a fortune.’ That’s false.

Trump’s Claims Don’t Add Up

Here is the White House transcript highlighted and annotated:

Remarks by President Trump on Tax Reform

St. Charles Convention Center, St. Charles, Missouri

2:22 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: I told you that we would be saying, merry Christmas again, right? (Applause.) And it’s great to be back in Missouri — a sign of a lot of good things because you’re doing really well.

And I want to thank Governor Greitens and Attorney General Hawley, who — by the way, Josh — where’s Josh? Josh, our next senator. Where is he? (Applause.) He’s going to be a great senator. And he wants to see a major tax cut. I think I can speak for him, right? (Applause.) And your current senator does not want to see a tax cut. That’s not good. That’s not good. She wants your taxes to go up.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Secretary Mnuchin, who’s doing such a fantastic job — (applause) — thank you — and Linda McMahon. Everybody knows Administrator — small business, became a big business under Linda. She’s helping a lot of people. Thank you very much, Linda. (Applause.)….

[Mnuchin claimed that he had a team of 100 specialists at US Treasury doing an analysis to show that the tax cuts would not add to national debt, now at $20 trillion. That was a lie – Treasury did not offer any analysis, but other nonpartisan and bipartisan agencies released reports that show that the Republican tax plan will add $1 trillion to the national debt and have only marginal benefit to increasing jobs, wages, or economic growth. What is more, the projections are “optimistic” and do not take into account the likelihood of a recession in the next decade.]

With your help, we can usher in a thrilling new era of opportunity and growth for this nation that we love so much. Tax cuts have already passed the House of Representatives. (Applause.) Big ones. Big ones. The eyes of the world now turn to the United States Senate.

A successful vote in the Senate this week will bring us one giant step closer to delivering an incredible victory for the American people. Massive tax cuts and reform. I don’t even mention the word reform because people don’t know exactly what we’re talking about.

You know, for years, they have not been able to get tax cuts — many, many years, since Reagan. And the problem was they talked about tax reform, not tax cuts. I said, don’t call it “reform,” call it “tax cuts and reform.” So every once in a while we’ll add the name “reform.” But it’s tax cuts.

[That’s true because it does not eliminate any of the loopholes that enable the wealthiest and biggest corporations to avoid paying taxes altogether; it only cuts taxes for the wealthiest, and makes up the lost revenue by taking away the credits and deductions that working class and middle class Americans use for home ownership, education, job training, and healthcare, for upward mobility.]

We cannot sit — (applause.) Right? The Governor agrees.

We cannot sit idly by and watch ourselves losing in competition to other countries as they continue to take away our jobs because their tax codes are more competitive and less burdensome than ours. That’s why we must cut our taxes, reduce economic burdens, and restore America’s competitive edge. We’re going to do that, too. And it’s already happening. Look what’s happening with our markets. People get it. (Applause.)

[It has been happening before Trump because of economic programs put into place by Obama, including trade deals, job training, summits designed to incentivize international businesses to locate here. As a result, corporations are flush with cash – $2 trillion worth – but have not raised wages. Trump’s tax plan has no incentives to raise wages and because consumer spending will be weak, and there are no rules to prevent companies from off-shoring jobs and profits, companies have no reason to invest here.]

If we do this, then America will win again like never, ever before. (Applause.) A vote to cut taxes is a vote to put America first again. We want to do that. We want to put America first again. (Applause.) It’s time to take care of our workers, to protect our communities, and to rebuild our great country. (Applause.)

You know, we’ve spent almost $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 16 years — $7 trillion. Now, I’m taking care of it. We’re doing numbers like ISIS has never seen before. We’re wiping them out — terrorists, they’re bad. (Applause.)

And all of that, but we’ve spent almost $7 trillion. We could have rebuilt our country four times over. And we’re going to start spending here. We’re going to start spending here. (Applause.)

And with that being said, we’re going to protect our country, whether it’s North Korea or any — but we’re going to protect our country like never before. We’re going to build up our military and make our product here and make our planes, and our boats, and our everything here. But we’re going to build up our military. (Applause.)

But we’ve got to start focusing on our country. That’s why I’m saying America first. Make America great again — you’ve never heard that expression. (Applause.) All those hats. All those — they’ve never heard that expression before.

Oh, that was a good expression and it’s a true expression and it’s already happening and long ahead of schedule. And in fact, today, some numbers came out that people haven’t seen in many, many years.

This beautiful city of St. Charles is the perfect place to deliver the message that I want to deliver. It’s the place where America’s past and future come to life on its historic brick-lined Main Street. Nice street, do you agree? (Applause.)

It was along these very streets that, in 1804, the great American explorers, Lewis and Clark, gathered their final supplies before setting out on their very historic expedition of discovery. I have to say, I didn’t really know that until two days ago. (Laughter.)

See? See, now the world is watching. Look at all the fake news back there. They’re all —

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: They’re all watching.

Today, more than two centuries later, a new generation of American pioneers begins its own adventure, gathering inside the startups and the storefronts of main streets across the country, blazing new trails into totally uncharted territory of business and technology, and once again leading our nation into a future of limitless potential.

That’s what we have in this country. We have the greatest people. It’s the greatest country. I love this country so much. (Applause.)

Our country was not treated properly for a long time. We’re treating it properly. We’re treating it with love and with this. You got to treat it with this.

And today, just as it’s always been, Main Street is the heart of our economy, the soul of our community, and the birthplace of American dreams.

But over the years, crippling taxes, massive regulation, and totally disastrous trade deals — oh, the trade deals. Oh, I get a headache thinking about who made these deals. (Laughter.) One after another. WTO, NAFTA, the wonderful deal with South Korea — remember, they said it’s going to produce 200,000 jobs? And it did, for South Korea. (Laughter.) Didn’t produce — we lost 200,000 jobs. It turned some of our businesses’ main streets into empty ghost towns. You see what’s happened.

Now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore American prosperity and reclaim America’s great destiny. We’ve already made tremendous progress — far greater than I would have thought. I will tell you this in a non-braggadocious way — (laughter) — there has never been a 10-month President that has accomplished what we have accomplished. That I can tell you. That I can tell you. (Applause.)

Today, again, the stock market has reached another record, all-time high. (Applause.) The unemployment rate nationwide is the lowest it’s been in 17 years — (applause) — and 13 states this year have seen unemployment drop to the lowest levels in the history of their state. And I hate to tell you, but Missouri happens to be one of them. (Applause.)

[Increases in stock market have nothing to do with jobs or wages or prosperity. In the first place, they are paper profits only realized when the stock is sold. In the second place, only 20% of Americans have a stake in the stock market. In the third place, sales of shares do not go to the company to invest or add jobs except when it is the Initial Public Offering. Fourth: the stock market only reflects short term, not long term, and today, with computer trading, will buy/sell based on small changes in market price. Fifth: Wall Street does not care about the well being of ordinary Americans – witness how the stock market rose on news that hundreds of thousands of jobs were being shed in the lead up to the 2008 financial collapse.]

We’ve created nearly 2 million jobs — 2 million jobs, think of that. We used to lose millions. Now we’ve created 2 million jobs since I won the election. And, I want to say, since you won the election. I didn’t win the election; you won the election. (Applause.)

And we will create countless more if we can sustain the 3 percent growth rate we have achieved for the past two quarters. But we’re going to do much better than that. Remember I used to say, we can hit 4 and we can hit 3? And they were all saying, forget it, forget it. It was 1.2. It was doing terribly. We were flat. We were even. In all fairness, the stock market was going this way.

[No credible economists expect the US, a mature economy, to grow by 3% a year.]

And now, we’re hitting numbers that nobody thought possible, certainly not in this time. And the numbers going up are going to be much better than anybody anticipates. In fact, they’re going to say that Trump is the opposite of an exaggerator — the exact opposite. (Laughter and applause.) They’re going to start saying, Governor, that he ought to be a little bit more optimistic because his predictions were low, can you believe it?

You know, a year and a half ago, they were saying, oh, he can’t do that. Now they’re saying, hm, that was quick. (Laughter.)

But by the way, the Commerce Department announced this morning that our GDP — that’s the big one — in the third quarter, grew even faster than they reported previously. They made a mistake, they were too low. They had it at 3 percent. By the way, 3 percent — did you ever think you’d hear that in less than a year?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: And now it comes in at 3.3 percent, which is the largest increase in many years. (Applause.)

And if we didn’t have the hurricanes, we would have been at 4 percent. The hurricanes were devastating. And I said, they’re worth a point. They said they were worth like .006, but I said they were worth a point. We would have been at 4 percent, maybe even over 4 percent, but we had hurricanes.

We took care of them. In Texas and Florida, they did a great, great job — amazing job, tremendous leadership. And we’re very proud.

[Where is the money coming from for disaster relief, which is all too common with climate change and increasing frequency of climate catastrophe?]

Puerto Rico has been a very tough situation because of the fact that it was in very, very bad shape before the storms ever hit. But they’re doing well there and it’s healing and it’s getting better. And we’re getting them power, and all of the things that they have to have.

But I want to tell you there are a lot of brave people in every state. We have great, great people, and it’s our number one resource, believe me. Really great. (Applause.)

But in order to achieve this bright and glowing future, the Senate must pass those tax cuts. Bring Main Street roaring back — and that’s what’s going to happen. This was all done without the tax cuts, and I’m not sure that people even believe the tax cuts. I want to see what happens….

So right now, America’s tax code is a total dysfunctional mess. The current system has cost our nation millions of American jobs, trillions and trillions of dollars, and billions of hours wasted on paperwork and compliance. It is riddled with loopholes that let some special interests — including myself, in all fairness. This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

Believe me, this is not good for me. (Laughter.) Me, it’s not so — I have some very wealthy friends — not so happy with me, but that’s okay. You know, I keep hearing Schumer, “This is for the wealthy.” Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it. (Laughter.) I have to explain why.

[Like in poker, Trump has a “tell” when he is bluffing (lying): Whenever he says “Believe me,” especially when he repeats “Believe me” he is lying.]

Now it is great for companies, because companies are going to bring back jobs. And we’re lowering the rates very substantially. But right now, we’re bringing the rates down from 35 percent — which is totally non-competitive. The highest industrialized nation in the world, by far, and we’re bringing it all the way down to 20 percent. (Applause.)

[35% is the nominal tax rate before deductions and loopholes. The average rate paid by US companies is 18%, which is below average for industrialized nations, and profitable companies like Apple and General Electric pay little or no taxes.]

But that’s good for everybody in the room, whether you have company or whether you want a job, because we’re going to bring back jobs. (Applause.)

And what we’ve had is a massive giveaway to foreign countries, which encourage businesses to relocate offshore. And you’ve seen what’s happened.

Before this — this is, really, I’m most proud, because, as bad as our tax code is, we have Toyota, we have big car companies coming back in, building plants in Michigan and other places. We have a lot of businesses coming back in, and they see what’s happening. They see what’s going on.

[International companies have building factories in the US, predating and having nothing to do with Trump. Even the announcements he made after winning election were plans to expand made during Obama’s administration.]

That’s why they’re doing — our current code is a giant — and really it is — it’s a self-inflicted economic wound. It’s been that way for so many years and nobody wanted to do anything about it.

But all that will change and it will change immediately if Congress sends a tax cut and reform bill. The biggest tax cut in the history of our country — bigger than Reagan. If they send it to my desk, I promise all of the people in this room — my friends, so many friends in this room. It’s a great state. I promise you I will sign it. I promise. I will not veto that bill. There will be no veto. (Applause.)

Under the plan moving forward in the Senate, a typical family of four earning $75,000, as an example, will see their taxes go down by as much as $2,000. That’s a lot. (Applause.)

[Individual tax cuts are temporary; what is more, losing the deductions for state and local taxes, interest on school loans and the like, will wipe out any reduction in taxes because of the doubling in the personal exemption. And with the deal to eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate for health insurance – to appear to save $338 billion in government spending so that the tax plan can pass with only 51 Senate votes – everyone’s premiums will increase 10% a year.]

Now, we’re doing that not just to help people. We’re doing that because it helps our country. You’re going to take that $2,000 and maybe you’ll save some, and you’re going to spend some. And we’re going to make product back in our country again. It’s going to be made here — going to be made elsewhere. But it’s going to be made here. We’re opening up plants. We’re opening up factories, and we’re going to be great to small business. Wait until you see the final product. Wait until you see what finally comes out in what I call the mixer.

The beating heart of our plan is a tax cut for working families. That’s what it is. We’re going to make sure — (applause) — that you keep more of your hard-earned money. We’re going to make sure, also, that you have a job that you want. You’re going to have choice. In education we now have choice. Good word. Here you’re going to have a choice. You’re not just going to have one — you’re going to have a choice of many jobs. People are moving back into our country.

Under our plan, the first $12,000 of income earned by a single individual will be totally income-tax-free — zero. (Applause.) And a married couple won’t pay one dime of income tax on their first $24,000 of income — zero. (Applause.)

Our plan will significantly increase the child tax credit and make it available to more middle-class families because the single most important investment our nation can make is in our children. Do we agree? You agree? You better agree. (Applause.)

Families will also benefit from a new credit for other dependents like a child in college, or an elderly loved one. We have our mothers, our fathers. You have your grandparents. You have people that are elderly that have done a fantastic job. They’ve grown old. You want to help them. Now we are going to help you help them. (Applause.)

We’re also going to eliminate tax breaks and complex loopholes taken advantage of by the wealthy. Who are they? I don’t know. (Laughter.) I think my accountants are going crazy right now. It’s all right. Hey, look, I’m President. (Laughter.) I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care. (Laughter and applause.)

Some of my wealthy friends care. Me? I don’t care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree? (Applause.) As Hillary said, what difference does it make? It made a difference. It made a big difference. It made a big, big difference. (Applause.)

[If the tax plan isn’t going to give Trump and his family millions of dollars – by eliminating the AMT and Estate Tax – where are his tax returns to prove that?]

We want a tax code that is simple and fair, and that’s for all Americans. The plan that senators will be voting on this week — hopefully as soon as possible — closes the loopholes that corporations use to shift their profits to tax havens, and it eliminates deductions for CEO salaries over $1 million. You see what some of these people are making — a little ridiculous. (Applause.)

[NOT TRUE.]

I’m driving up their stock. They’re making a fortune. Then they go to their board, and they tell everybody what a great job they’re doing. But what am I going to do? (Laughter.) And many of them, honestly, I don’t like. (Laughter.) Oh, some of these bankers I don’t like them, and they’re making a fortune, and it’s one of those things.

Steve knows a couple of them that I’m talking about, doesn’t he? (Laughter.) They say what a great job they do. Right now anybody could do their job because we’re making it easy for them because we’re giving them a great and strong economy. And because we’ve cut regulations more than any President in the history of this country by far, and that’s for full terms. That’s not for 10 months. (Applause.)

And it allows builders to build, and it allows farmers to farm. You know what I’ve done for farmers. (Applause.) Where if you had a little puddle in the middle of your field, you go to jail if you touch it, right? You know what I’m talking about. Not anymore. Not anymore. Not anymore. (Applause.)

And it allows bankers to lend. It allows bankers to lend again. So many people came up to me, and they said, we had a 20-year relationship with a bank. We never had a default. We never had a bad loan. Now we go back to the bank, and they say, we can’t do business with you anymore.

Because they don’t qualify, even though they’re better than the people that do qualify. It’s incredible. But we’re back to the strong days of our banks. And not the days of trouble — pre-that — we’re back to the — where bankers can make loans and community bankers can make great loans to good people.

You saw what happened recently where the certain agency or bureau that was causing so much trouble to lenders, where they could not lend. They just couldn’t lend. It was devastating. They were going out of business. Well, we’re taking care of that. We’ve already taken care of a big part of it, and yesterday you saw we won the lawsuit. So that’s going to be taken care of automatically. (Applause.) Got to get back to business.

Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mailrooms and machine shops of America — the plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers, the pipe fitters — the people that like me best. (Laughter.) Actually, the rich people actually don’t like me, which is sort of interesting.

And that’s fine. You know what? I like that trade. (Laughter.) But really, the people that like me best are those people — the workers. They’re the people I understand the best. Those are the people I grew up with. Those are the people I worked on construction sites with. (Applause.)

All of the people who give their best each and every day to take care of their family and the country that they love — these are incredible people. They came out to vote for me. They came out to vote for us. People that worked hard, two jobs, three jobs, that hadn’t voted in many years because they never had anybody they wanted to vote for.

And they came out — I’ll never forget, in Tennessee, a great congressman told me — they had early voting — said, I’ll tell you what, we just went through four days of early voting. At that time, it was Mr. Trump. Now they say, Mr. President. But it was Mr. Trump.

He said, and if the other parts of the country are like what’s happening in Tennessee — people are coming from all over Tennessee. They haven’t voted in years, and now they’ve got Trump shirts and they’ve got Trump hats, and they’ve got Trump-Pence, and they’ve got everything Trump and Trump-Pence.

[Trump can’t get through a single speech without crowing over the 2016 Election.]

And he said, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been a politician for a lot of years. And if it’s anything like Tennessee, you’re going to have one hell of a victory. It turned out to be a lot like Tennessee, so — (applause). And it turned out to be a lot like Missouri. That I can tell you. (Applause.) Because we had a big one here.

And I promised Josh that, when he gets it going — and he’s got it in very good shape, from what I hear, he’s a popular — everybody said, Josh, got to be Josh. Everyone who saw me — I said, who’s going to run against her? Josh, Josh. I said, Josh, when you’re ready, you have my word, I’m going to come here and campaign with you. We got to get you in. Okay? (Applause.) Got to get you in.

It’s not enough for the middle class to keep getting by; we want them to start getting way ahead. (Applause.) We’re going to have them start getting way ahead.

Under our plan, middle-class families will not only see their tax bill go down, they will see their incomes go up by an average of around $4,000. (Applause.) And that’s because we’re going to cut taxes on American businesses so they will compete for workers, they’ll raise salaries. The business is going to be happy and the workers are going to be happy and the country is going to be a happy place.

Although, we’re going to have very strong borders. Please remember that, okay? Please remember. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Build the wall.

THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to have the wall. Don’t worry about it, we’re going to have the wall. (Applause.) We don’t forget that wall. A lot of people say, now that he got elected, is he going to build the wall? The answer is, absolutely — more so, I think more so. (Applause.)

It’s not easy dealing with the Democrats. They want to have people pour into our country — illegals. They don’t care where the hell they come from. They want to have them pour into our country, they want to raise your taxes, they don’t want to take care of your military, and all they’re good at, frankly, is obstructing. They want to obstruct.

But you know what? They may obstruct, but we have gotten through all of the obstruction so far. We’ll keep it going, believe me. (Applause.)

Today, America has one of the least competitive tax rates on planet Earth — 60 percent. Think of that: 60 percent higher than the average in the developed world. So our taxes are 60 percent higher.

On my recent trip to Asia, every single one of the countries I visited, even those with communist governments, have slashed its corporate tax rates and slashed them dramatically. And it’s very tough competition anyway. But when their taxes are a lot lower, it really makes it very tough.

And that trip was a tremendous success. You know, we brought back $250 billion in contracts. That’s going to be over a trillion dollars very soon. (Applause.) That’s a good week and a half’s work. Boeing came back with contracts. So many of our companies came back, and I’m very proud of them. And we’re doing great.

But at the same time, we’re going to fix trade because trade is unfair. We’re getting killed on trade. So we’re going to fix our trade. Unless anybody would like to continue with this horrible situation that we have.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Our plan gets America from the back of the pack and it’ll bring us right to number one, where we were for years but where we haven’t been for decades. We’re going to be right back at number one. (Applause.)

And we’re going to work on trade, but we’re also going to work on military. When we defend nations that are very wealthy, and we do it for almost nothing, I say, why are we defending them? We love them. I won’t mention names, but there are a lot of them. We love them. They’re wealthy.

One of them has a cash flow that they say is unsustainable, it’s so large. Think of that. How would you like to have an unsustainable cash flow? They don’t know what to do with their money. And we defend them. It’s going to change, folks. We’re going to defend them, but they’re going to treat us fairly. And they’re going to pay for their defense. Does that make sense? (Applause.)

And a lot of this is from many, many years ago, when we defended a defeated country and then they became strong and they became rich and we just kept the same defense. What happened? Why didn’t anybody go in and negotiate?

And when I was in Asia, I spoke to a couple of the countries about it, and they looked like this. Do you know what this is? (Laughter.) That means they know they’re getting away with murder and they got to start helping us out, okay? So if you don’t mind, I’ll start bringing that up with some of our good friends. (Applause.)

We’re going to lower our tax rate to the very competitive number of 20 percent, as I said. And we’re going to create jobs and factories will be pouring into this country, and they already are starting. A lot of people think it’s going to happen. I don’t want to say anything. I’m not going to talk about it. I thought we had healthcare, and we will have healthcare. It’s going to happen. As soon as we get the taxes, we work on the healthcare, we’re going to happen. Because we thought we had the votes and something happened a little strange — (laughter) — that’s okay.

When you lose by one vote, then it’s called — you go back. You know, some people said, oh, you failed with healthcare. I said, what do you mean we failed? We didn’t fail. And by the way, what happened — what happened is Obama took a long time — years — to get Obamacare, right? Again, ten months? We’ve had two runs at it. We’re coming closer, closer. I think now we have a plan that’s going to be great. But we’re not talking about it until after taxes. And then we take care of healthcare.

Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history; healthcare, phenomenal healthcare. I know you don’t want this — welfare reform. Does anybody want welfare reform? (Applause.) And infrastructure. But welfare reform — I see it and I’ve talked to people. I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.)

So we’re going to go into welfare reform, unless Billy doesn’t want it. Billy, am I okay in saying that I speak for you? He said, yes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Billy. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You got a lot of friends out there, Bill.

Well, we’ll also cut taxes for the millions of small businesses that file as individuals, and that’s going to come out of the hopper. (Applause.) It’s getting there and it’s going to be better and better. We’re reducing the tax burden on businesses of all sizes and of every, single kind.

As a candidate, I pledged to fight for American jobs. I think it’s possibly the number one reason I got elected. And I think we’ve done a lot better, at this point, than anybody ever even thought possible. Think of that, two million jobs since the election — two million more jobs in this country since the election. Nobody expected that. Nobody expected that. Excuse me, I didn’t even expect that. (Laughter.)

But you cut those regulations and you give people spirit and incentive. And when you have the highest ratings, in terms of confidence, that the country has had in many, many years — maybe ever — things happen.

The tax cut will mean more companies moving to America, staying in America, and hiring American workers right here. So that’s so important, right? (Applause.)

Small business groups across our nation, retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, grocers, contractors support this plan. We have tremendous support for this plan. Tremendous. Because these massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel — (laughter) — Little Rocket Man — (laughter) — rocket fuel for the American economy. (Applause.) He is a sick puppy….

[Out of no where, a gratuitous dig at North Korea.]

We want to make it easier for loving families to pass on their life’s work to their children. Be nice. Be very nice, right? (Applause.)

That’s a tough one. The Democrats fight that one I think harder than any other thing that we’re doing. They fight the death tax. They don’t want it. They don’t like it. They don’t want it. It’s one of those things. But that is one of the hardest things. I have to be — I see people right here. They’re obviously very rich, and they love their children, right, in this group? (Laughter.) They love their children. They’re very rich. They want to pass on what they have without having to have the kids sell the property, mortgage up half of it. But the biggest problem we have on that one, these Democrats are being brutal. And I call them obstructionists, but they want to stop the estate tax. They want to stop the death tax from being rescinded. But we’re going to try our best on that one.

[Of course Trump and his donors, the Kochs, Mercers, Adelson, want to rescind the estate tax which impacts a few thousand individuals because the cap is so high: Trump’s kids stand to pocket an extra $1 billion when Donald kicks the bucket.]

Our economy will receive another enormous boost as trillions of dollars in wealth that’s parked overseas will be able to come back to our country.

Now, this one that’s interesting because for years Republicans and Democrats agreed. You have Apple, and you have these great companies having billions and billions of dollars overseas. Now who doesn’t want the money to come back?

But to show you the lack of leadership that this country had in the past, the Republicans want it, and the Democrats want it. And nothing ever happened. You could have passed that one easy. In fact, we’re just throwing it into this bill. I could have had a separate bill on that one — I think. Don’t you agree, fellas? I could have had a separate bill on that one and gotten it passed in record time. But I figured I’d put it here because it is actually popular.

But it used to be $2.5 trillion. You know what that is? Trillion. Money you can’t bring back in. It’s prohibitive — both in complexity and in the amount of tax you have to pay. So nobody brings back in — $2.5 trillion. But $2.5 [trillion] I’ve been saying for six years. I think now it’s $4 trillion to $5 trillion. All that money is coming back into the United States, and it’s going to be invested in our country, instead of sitting and helping others. We want our own help. (Applause.)

That’s sort of an easy one. Last year, American multinational companies left more than 70 percent of their foreign profits overseas because the current tax system penalizes them for bringing that money back home. They actually get penalized. Our plan switches to a territorial tax system that encourages companies to return their profits to America — right here to the United States — where that money belongs going back to work for you. Territorial. (Applause.)

[Democrats support the concept in theory, but not the way it will be abused. The Republican plan doesn’t prevent companies from continuing to offshore profits to avoid tax. Democrats including Obama were always in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate to the range of 20%, but removing the loopholes so they actually do pay tax.]

If we want America to thrive in the 21st century, then we must stop running from the competition. And instead, we must start totally winning and winning and winning again. Remember when I used to say: We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win — that the people of Missouri are going to go to your governor, and they’re going to say, Governor, please, go see the President. We can’t stand winning so much. Remember I used to say that? (Laughter.) Right? I used to say it, and that’s what’s happening. That’s what’s happening. (Applause.)

And then the governor is going to come to that beautiful historic Oval Office. He’s going to say to me, Mr. President, the people of Missouri cannot stand all this winning. (Laughter.) They don’t want to win so much. They love the old way where they had lousy job numbers, lousy economic numbers, lousy — yeah, they loved it. Please, Mr. President, please, not — and I’ll say, Governor, I don’t care what they say in Missouri, we’re going to keep winning and winning and winning. Remember? (Laughter.) That’s right. (Applause.)

I used to say that. I had fun with that. But we are winning. We’re winning again. We’re winning a lot bigger than anyone ever thought possible for such a short period of time.

For too long, our tax code has incentivized companies to leave our country in search of lower tax rates. It happens. Many, many companies — they’re going to Ireland. They’re going all over. They’re going all over Asia. But they’re stopping because they now want to take advantage of what’s happening and what we’re about to pass, hopefully.

My administration rejects the offshoring model. In other words, let’s build a factory in another country. Isn’t that wonderful? That really helps us a lot. Fire everybody, and let’s build a product, and let’s send it in, without tax, back into the United States.

That model doesn’t work for me. It never worked, and it shouldn’t have worked for any of our other past Presidents, believe me. (Applause.)

Our new model is the American model. Call it the Trump model, where we build it here. As much as possible, we build it here. Simply put, our tax plan is anti-offshoring and 100 percent worker, 100 percent worker, 100 percent pro-America. (Applause.)

Under the American model, we’re reducing burdens on our businesses as long as they do business in our country. Okay? They do business here.

Now, we love Mexico. It’s a wonderful place. But I don’t like when our car companies move to Mexico, fire everybody, build the same car in Mexico, send it through our borders with no taxes, no nothing, and we buy the car. Same price. We buy the car.

In the meantime, what do we get out of it? We get no tax and we get unemployment all over. That’s stopping. So now the plants are starting to move back. And now there’s a price to pay when they do that little number on us. (Applause.) That’s how we will all succeed and we grow together as one team, one people, as one American family. (Applause.)

This week’s vote can be the beginning of the next great chapter for the American worker.

To summarize: Our plan cuts taxes for the working and middle-income families; it nearly doubles the amount of income taxed at the rate of zero; it lowers tax rate; it expands the child tax credit; it provides relief from the estate tax, also known as the death tax; it cuts small business taxes; it reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent all the way down to 20 percent; and it provides a one-time low tax rate to return corporate money parked overseas — trillions and trillions of dollars.

This is the right plan. This is the right time. We have a moment in time. The Republicans have the Senate. The Republicans have the House. The Republicans have the White House. It’s very unusual. It’s very unusual. (Applause.)

This is our chance to free our economy from our workers — from the terrible tax burdens. We have workers that are so burdened with taxes. We’re freeing our workers from those terrible burdens.

Republicans in Congress campaigned on cutting taxes. We also campaigned on repeal and replace. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. Take your time, it’s going to happen — going to happen. (Applause.)

Many Democrats have promised tax cuts that don’t mean anything because they really want major tax increases. Senator Claire McCaskill — have you ever heard of her?

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: — is doing you a tremendous disservice. She wants your taxes to go up. She’s weak on crime, she’s weak on borders, she’s weak on illegal immigrations, and she’s weak on the military. Other than that, I think she’s doing a fantastic job. (Laughter.)

[Trump uses this kneejerk attack on any Democrat or anyone he doesn’t like without regard for truth.]

But now comes the moment of truth. In the coming days, the American people will learn which politicians are part of the swamp and which politicians want to drain the swamp. (Applause.)

If you make your voices heard and call up your congressmen — and they’ve been terrific — and call up your senators — and they have been totally terrific. Most of them have been incredible. They really are. They’re friends of mine. They’ve been incredible.

But, it doesn’t take much. That’s why we need more. We need to have a larger number. But most of them have been incredible. But call your senators. Call you congressmen, because we have no choice. We have to act. We have to act as a country. This isn’t good for the Republican Party; this is good for the country and that’s ultimately what’s it all about. (Applause.)

So, this week, hopefully, the Senate can join the House and take that strong stand for middle-class families and for business, and for jobs, and for competition, and for bringing money back. Together, we will give the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present. (Applause.)

And remember, I was the one — when I was here last time, I said, we’re going to have Christmas again. I was the one that said, you go to the department stores and you see “Happy New Years,” and you see red, and you see snow, and you see all these things. You don’t see “Merry Christmas” anymore.

With Trump as your President, we are going to be celebrating Merry Christmas again, and it’s going to be done with a big, beautiful tax cut. (Applause.)

Thank you everybody. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.

________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

In US of Trump, Don’t Expect Justice ‘Without Fear or Favor’

“Equal Justice Under Law” is inscribed above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court. Under Trump, though, justice is being politicized. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By KarenRubin, News & PhotoFeatures

“Equal Justice Under Law,” is what is inscribed above the entrance to the Supreme Court.

No One is Above the Law. Justice Without Fear or Favor.

Alas, these clichés can be thrown onto the ash heap of myths that are really only fantasy, along with American Dream, American Exceptionalism and the biggest lie of all: one person, one vote.

What we see all around is the ability for the wealthy, the powerful and the connected to evade justice.  One way is by simply affording a battery of top lawyers which poor people, dependent upon funds-strapped public defenders, cannot, so are pressured to accept plea deals even if they are innocent and then branded for the rest of their lives, while wealthy people can have their arrest record expunged, or excuse their crime as the result of “Affluenza,” as Texas teenager Ethan Couch, did despite driving drunk without a license and killing four and injuring nine people. On the other hand, when 16-year old Cyntoia Brown, killed the pimp who kept her as a sex slave and had been beating her, she was tried as an adult and sentenced to life without parole.

If Paul Manafort, accused of 11 counts including money laundering millions of dollars, were a poor black teenager, he would be in jail for weeks, even months, instead of comfortably ensconced in one of his multi-million dollar homes (and that’s only because of the strong argument that he has the money, means and foreign ties to make him a flight risk – otherwise he would be out and about).

How different from Kalief Browder, a Bronx teenager held at Rikers Island for three years without ever being convicted including 400 days in solitary confinement, was so damaged the 22-year old committed suicide when he was finally released. Or the thousands of people held in jail because they can’t afford bail, losing their job, home, family.

Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. get waved aside for defrauding buyers in their Soho coop after their lawyer makes a hefty contribution to DA Cy Vance’s election campaign, but Eric Garner gets put in a choke hold, thrown to the ground, and suffocated to death for selling loose cigarettes on a Staten Island street. That’s called a “quality of life” crime and it apparently is a capital offense. So is an innocuous traffic violation: Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, was arrested during a traffic stop and found hanging in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, three days later.

Imagine a defendant claiming “I didn’t remember, but after reading the newspaper accounts, it jogged my memory,” as an excuse for lying to federal officials and Congress. And this is the Attorney General, who has taken such a strong stand for Law & Order, along with his boss, Donald Trump, who has no problem at all breaking laws, dismissing laws, ignoring or overturning Constitutional protections. Actually Jeff Sessions, as a prosecutor and Senator, didn’t harbor any sympathy for anyone who “can’t recall” – prosecuting a rookie police officer whose memory failed, and, of course, Hillary Clinton, but he’s used that phrase dozens and dozens of times in his own hearings, and even outright lies (I never met with any Russians during the course of the campaign; didn’t know of anyone in the campaign who did) – perjury, lying to Congress – will likely go without consequences.

Instead, the nation’s highest law enforcement officer has stopped prosecuting hate crimes, police brutality, systemic discrimination in sentencing and prosecution, and voter suppression, and authorizes Gestapo-like tactics to round up undocumented immigrants without due process and the relaunch the “war on drugs” as a pretext for heavy-handed policing. Meanwhile, Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy Devoes is no longer taking steps against sexual assault on college campuses.

Nowadays, the wealth in the justice system is also related to threatening lawsuits to anyone who dares bring a complaint, such as sexual assault (Trump, Roy Moore), or literally buying up the Fourth Estate so that the press is no longer free and no longer the watchdog against abuses of power (Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts buys chain of local papers to shut them down). Latest: Koch Brothers’ investment arm providing $650 million toward $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc. Won’t have effect on editorial? Well, the big donors to PBS used its weight to prevent the documentary, “Citizen Koch” from being televised.

The Rule of Law is now routinely trampled by Trump: attacking a judge’s impartiality because of his Hispanic heritage; challenging the ruling of the 9th Circuit against his unconstitutional Travel Ban, pardoning Sheriff Arpaio (sending a message to other conspirators) and supporting Roy Moore for the US Senate, who not only has had credible accusations of committing felony pedophilia and sexual assault, but twice was removed for defying Supreme Court rulings, otherwise known as the “Rule of Law.”

Here are just some of the many ways the justice system and Rule of Law is being overturned:

Obstruction of justice: Trump has not only dismissed the federal prosecutors like Preet Bharara who were investigating Trump’s dubious financial dealings including money laundering for Russian oligarchs, but is now personally interviewing candidates in the regions where Trump has business investments. This follows his dismissal of James Comey as FBI director for failing to give his oath of loyalty and ending the investigation into Michael Flynn and Russian meddling into the 2016 election.

Politicizing justice: The pressure from Trump to get Sessions’ DoJ to launch a special counsel investigation into Hillary Clinton and the Uranium One deal and (yet again) her emails (ironic considering Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Steve Bannon were all found to use private emails once they got into the White House), is a Banana-Republic move against a political opponent.

As Sally Yates (who exposed Michael Flynn and was fired as Acting Attorney General by Trump for refusing to enforce his unconstitutional Travel Ban), the Justice Department isn’t there to “go after his enemies and protect his friends”

For the first time since Nixon era, the Department of Justice has sought to block a merger of a telecom company (then it was ITT, today it is ATT), for personal reasons. AT&T is seeking to acquire Time Warner – which on face of it, especially for a consolidation-happy, bigness is bestest administration that has no problem with monopolies and oligopolies, even to the point of overturning regulations to allow Sinclair to massively control local TV stations. But Trump has made clear he hates CNN, and has made it a condition of allowing the sale for Time Warner to divest of CNN. The DoJ is doing Trump’s bidding.

Stacking courts with political hacks: Trump has a flurry of judicial nominees who are political and ideological hacks, enabled by the way Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has abused his power in the first instance to withhold the confirmation process for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and now, by overturning the long-standing tradition of a Senator using a “blue slip” to blackball a judicial nominee – something that Republicans used incessantly to block Obama’s ability to make appointments, leaving a staggering number of vacancies. Yet four of Trump’s nominees – an unprecedented number – have been designated as “Unqualified” by the American Bar Association. Among them Brett Talley, with just three years practicing law, has never tried a case, and who was rated unanimously “not qualified” for a federal judgeship by the American Bar Association — their lowest rating; who withheld from his Senate questionnaire that his wife is the chief of staff for the White House counsel, who has pledged support for the NRA, mocked gun control, retweeted Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory that Sandy Hook was a hoax, and called for Hillary “Rotten” Clinton to be locked up.

Controlling the press/de-fanging the Fourth Estate: the role of a free press is to serve as a watchdog on those in power, especially the government. Trump has waged an actual de-legitimizing campaign, calling every story and every media organization which raises questions about his governance and his administration as “fake news”, actually threatening to take away a broadcast license, and now, sending his DoJ to challenge a merger between AT&T and Time Warner not because it is monopolistic, but to force Time Warner to shed CNN. And yet, the Trump Administration’s FCC, under Ajit Pai, a former Verizon executive,  has no problem with the merger of ultra-conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media which would violate existing regulations intended to block a monopoly of political viewpoints in a media market; the merger would mean that “Trump TV” would reach 72% of American homes. This follows Pai’s determination to overturn net neutrality, which is designed to give a level playing field across the now ubiquitous and essential cyberspace,

Just this week, James O’Keefe, whose scams have brought down Acorn and Planned Parenthood, through his Project Veritas, tried to scam the Washington Post in order to bolster Roy Moore.  O’Keefe should be prosecuted for industrial sabotage and fraud. They are intent on damaging the Washington Post’s reputation, which costs them money, and force the real press to spend more time and money in their investigative reporting which obstructs publication. What they did is no different than poisoning a Tylenol bottle. But a politicized DoJ, under Sessions, won’t prosecute.

On the other hand, a West Virginia reporter was arrested simply for shouting out a question about health care at (then) HHS Secretary Tom Price and a Code Pink activist was arrested, prosecuted and tried for giggling during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing.

Unequal Justice: Take for example how George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s murderer, was acquitted based on Stand Your Ground laws, but Marissa Alexander, who fired a warning shot to scare off her enraged estranged and violent husband who was about to beat or kill her, was found guilty after just 12 minutes of jury deliberation and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Personhood laws that states are trying to install set up more imprisonments of mothers who lose their children to miscarriage, who are shown to drink or do drugs during pregnancy, or who seek to abort a pregnancy. (A hidden provision of the Republican tax plan would create personhood for a fetus, and pave the way for abortion to be illegal and mothers prosecuted for miscarrying or bad behavior during pregnancy, stripping the woman of civil and human rights.)

The way that women who have been victims of sexual assault, become victimized by the predators with the assistance of the judicial system is the reason that so few have come forward before to charge Trump, Roy Moore and others.

Discrimination in sentencing: African-American men serve prison sentences that average almost 20 percent longer than those served by white men for similar crimes, according to a study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. There has a consequence for voting rights as well, with as many as 6 million blacks (one in 13) disenfranchised because of a prison record.

School to prison pipeline67,000 preschool kids, 3 and 4 years old, are being suspended or expelled a year for ‘infractions’ that might be considered normal development, but African American kids are twice as likely to be punished in this way, setting the stage for failure in school and ultimately a path to prison.

Privatizing Prisons:  Meanwhile, AG Sessions has abandoned efforts to reform sentencing guidelines which profit private prison companies and have made the US the most incarcerated country on earth. His renewed War on Drugs policy – overturning Obama’s effort to empty prisons of unfairly sentenced individuals – assures they will be full, and profitable.

Raise your hand if you believe Jared Kushner will ever go to jail for lying to Congress and federal agent, conspiracy, treason, dealing with sanctioned Russian banks and oligarchs, and obstruction of justice? Can you imagine what would happen if instead of Don Jr., it was Chelsea Clinton who met with the Russians? But as long as you can imagine a different result depending upon who is president, judge, prosecutor  or defendant, or which party is in control of Congress, there is no “Rule of Law” or equal justice.

________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Village Halloween Parade Goes on Despite Act of Terror, With a Few Messages for Trump

At the 2017 Village Halloween Parade, Rise and Resist came with costumes and signs with the message, “The Emperor Has No Clothes!” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The Village Halloween Parade is not nearly as political and outrageous as it used to be – the goal is to be an expression of creativity and if anything, good will and spirituality. But still, there were a few standouts. Notably, a whole group of Gays Against Guns, and a group calling itself “Rise & Resist” wearing costumes and carrying signs with the message, “The Emperor Has No Clothes!” Indeed, the entire parade wound up being a form of resistance against the terror attack that occurred just hours before and less than a mile away – as one parade regular put it, “a giant F-U to the terrorists.”

Just a few hours and less than a mile away from where a 29-year old used a rented pickup truck to mow down cyclists and pedestrians on the West Side Highway bikepath, killing eight and injuring 12, thousands were gathering in costumes for the 44th annual Village Halloween Parade. With high confidence that the terror attack was by a lone wolf and not coordinated, the decision was made for the parade to go on, albeit with enhanced security. Even with the counter-terrorism officers draped in military-style assault weapons, vests and helmets, and with the heightened sense of security, the police were accommodating and the mood of marchers and viewers alike more playful than seditious.

Political issues come to fore at 2017 Village Halloween Parade, NYCJust a few hours after a terror attack in Lower Manhattan, Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio join some one million marchers and onlookers at the Village Halloween Parade: “An attack won’t stop New Yorkers from being New Yorkers,” Cuomo declared. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio and NY Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill marched with the parade – which brings out one million people who line the mile-long route along Sixth Avenue and tens of thousands of marchers, giving a shout out for New Yorkers to defy terrorism by going on with their lives.

While the terrorist committed mayhem, Governor Cuomo said, “He did not stop New Yorkers from being New Yorkers.”

Speaking to Anderson Cooper on CNN, Cuomo said, “This was an attack that was designed to create terror, and it — it killed and frightened people. It was despicable. But, New Yorkers are resilient, New Yorkers go on. We learned the hard way on 9/11 that we are a target, we are the international symbol of democracy and freedom and we understand that. And since 9/11 we’ve lived with this and we’ve put together the best security force on the globe in my opinion, and we worked together and the response was great. But this afternoon was terrible.

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill, with Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio address terror attack with Spectrum News1 during the Village Halloween Parade © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Tonight we’re at a Halloween parade to say you didn’t win and you didn’t affect us and we’re out and celebrating and we’re doing what New Yorkers do and we’re living our lives because we’re not going to allow the terrorists to win, period. And that’s why I’m here marching in the parade, not because I have a great costume.”

“They are trying to divide. The point is to unite, to show normalcy. To politicize this event [as Trump did immediately] is wholly unproductive,” Governor Cuomo said later in a press conference.

Mayor DiBlasio shows appreciation to NYPD officers at the Village Halloween Parade. Security was enhanced dramatically for the 44th annual parade which draws one million people, after the terror attack just a few hours earlier and a mile away © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Trump, predictably and unlike the reaction to the Las Vegas massacre which killed 58 and injured hundreds, ridiculously blamed Senator Schumer, and called for a travel ban and even more extreme vetting, in contrast to the call “this is not the time to politicize a tragedy” in response to the most lethal massacre in modern history. (Interestingly, he did not bother to call Governor Cuomo or Mayor DiBlasio as every president would have done after such a heinous event, spending his time tweeting out attacks on Democrat Sen Schumer for a diversity visa program adopted 20 years ago and signed by George HW Bush when Schumer was in the House; Schumer and the “Gang of 8” in their grand attempt to devise comprehensive immigration reform, proposed changes but Republicans blocked consideration of the immigration bill.)

Down Sixth Avenue, you could see the Freedom Tower that rose from the shattered Twin Towers, lighted red, white and blue.

“One World Trade Center was 9/11,” Cuomo told Anderson Cooper. “It was the darkest day that we went through in New York, but what we did is we got right back up and didn’t let them win. and we built back bigger, better and stronger than ever before, that’s who we are. If you think you’re going to beat us, you’re wrong. If you think these terrorist attacks are going to put a dent in the New York spirit, you’re wrong. And New York, America is about freedom and it is about democracy and will always be. And whatever attack you think you can bring is going to fail because our spirit is stronger than theirs.”

Indeed, none of Trump’s bigoted, racist anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies would have prevented this tragedy: not The Wall (this guy came into the US in 2010 through JFK), the travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries (Uzbekistan, though accounting for a large proportion of ISIS fighters, is not one of the countries excluded); or ending sanctuary cities (he was not undocumented or “illegal” but had a green card). While the pro-gun lobby is fast to blame any massacre on mental health rather than political or terror motive (like Dylann Roof or the guy who shot up a Planned Parenthood office), a “suicide by cop” or other derangement is never taken into account if the perpetrator is a Muslim or non-native.

Enhanced security at the Village Halloween Parade which took place mere hours and barely a mile from a terror attack when a 29-year old Uzbek national rammed a rented pick-up truck down the Hudson River Conservancy bikeway, killing 8 people and injuring 11. A decision was made not to cancel the 44th annual parade, which attracts million viewers and marchers along the mile-long route. NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill notes that NYC is the most heavily policed, secure city in the nation © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But what is Trump’s solution to terror?  He is threatening to cut off funds to New York City for anti-terrorism and policing, the #1 terror target in the US, because of New York City’s stance on making undocumented immigrants feel secure if the New York City does not abandon its sanctuary city policy. Indeed, this guy, who had nothing more than a traffic ticket during his time in the US, was radicalized in this country, and very likely Trump’s policies had something to do with why he was receptive to ISIS propaganda. Obama had a much more effective program to stem and stop this sort of homegrown, self-radicalized, lone-wolf terrorism – working in immigrant communities, forging relationships, making people feel secure and a part of American society with a stake in it, so they report suspicious behavior and do not fall under the spell of radicalism.

But in the end, it is impossible to completely stop such acts of terror. It is mind-blowing the speed with which authorities are looking to harden communities against such attacks — making bikelanes more secure – and yet, completely ignore the pervasive terror of gun violence that takes 33,000 lives and maims thousands more each year.

Those positions were on view during the Village Halloween Parade, which is an opportunity for people to express themselves in creative, even humorous, ways.

Here are “New Yorkers being New Yorkers”:

A regular of the Village Halloween Parade with the Parade’s long-time Artistic and Producing Director Jeanne Fleming. The 44th annual parade going on just hours after a horrific terror attack just a mile away, he said, “is a giant F-U to the terrorists.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rise & Resist: “The Emperor Has No Clothes” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rise & Resist: “The Emperor Has No Clothes” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
White Supremacist Steve Miller © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Hands Off Mueller” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Putin with Trump © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Twitter in Chief © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The King’s Fools: “Trump’s Next Cabinet Picks” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Gays Against Guns: Back Ground Checks Work © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin