Your tax cuts, M'sieur Corcaire

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker was the only Republican who voted against the first iteration of the Republican Tax-Cut Blowjob For the Rich, because it would add a trillion dollars to the national debt (even including the most optimistic estimates of economic growth). Friday, Corker announced out of nowhere that he would vote for the bill after all, giving Rs at least the 50 votes needed to pass it even though John McCain is back in Arizona for cancer treatment. Once the final text of the bill was released, some meddling reporters found a happy little provision that hadn't been in the House or Senate versions of the bill: A tax write-off for "pass-through" income to owners of real-estate LLCs that, as it happens, will help Bob Corker, already worth an estimated $69 million, to make an assload of money more. Oh, and Donald Trump will be able to deduct a lot more of his real-estate income, too! Corker insists he has no idea how that provision got into the final bill, but he hasn't exactly called for it to be removed, either.

In a series of brief interviews with the International Business Times, Corker's opinion of the measure morphed as rapidly as an evil alien critter in a bad sci-fi movie. First, he had no knowledge of what it even did, and said he'd "need an accountant" to understand it. But he had "no idea whatsoever" whether it would help him financially.

Then Corker called the IBT reporters back and asked them to tell him more about this thing. Boy, he really didn't like it, the way they described it, at least: "If I understand what [the provision] does, it sounds totally unnecessary and borderline ridiculous," he told them. But wait, maybe it's not so bad after all, he said in yet another call:

“I don’t really know what the provision does to be honest. I would need an accountant to explain it,” Corker said. “I had no knowledge of this and would have no knowledge of it except for you guys are calling me about it. I have no idea whatsoever whether it impacts me or doesn’t impact me.”

IBT reports Corker made about $7 million last year from the real-estate holdings that would be subject to the deduction, as it turns out. He must have talked to that accountant before that final call to the paper.

Also, in what must surely pain Donald Trump, who can't stop lying about how the tax cuts are bad for him, the special deduction would also apply to the $41 million to $68 million a year that Trump brings in through such investments. We bet he'll threaten a veto unless that thing's removed.

Corker is simply astonished that he's going to be much richer after changing his vote, and has written a very stern letter to Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch, demanding answers about how this mysterious deal-sweetener found its way into the bill:

Because this issue has raised concerns, I would ask that that you provide an explanation of the evolution of this provision and how it made it into the final conference report [...]

I think that because of many sensitivities, clarity on this issue is very important and hope that you will respond in an expeditious manner[.]

Yes, folks, Bob Corker will make a bundle, and he wants to know who's responsible for the Corker Kickback. Strangely, the letter doesn't demand the provision be stripped out before a final vote on the bill this week. After all, it's important legislation that must be passed right away for the good of the country, and there's no point in stopping progress just to eliminate one little tax cut for some lucky ducky senators and a lucky ducky president.

Texas Senator John Cornyn gave away the game on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. When George Stephanopoulos asked Cornyn to comment on Democratic senators' calls for the bill to be stopped because of the giveaway to real estate barons, Cornyn initially said it wasn't fair to talk about who might be getting rich off the bill:

Picking out one piece in a 1,000-page bill and saying, "well, this is going to benefit somebody" -- I just think that takes the whole bill out of context.

But then Stephanopoulos had to get shirty and ask why, John Cornyn, WHY is this thing that wasn't in either version of the bill suddenly added at the last minute, huh, WHY? And the answer was, obviously, those nasty Democrats, and also, umm, greasing a few palms:

Well, we were working very hard. It was a very intense process. As I said, the Democrats refused to participate. And what we've tried to do is cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.

Oh, so this was a little handout to win Corker's vote, then? Heavens, John Cornyn had already said too much, so it was time to consider how this wonderful bill will be great for everyone who's already filthy rich:

Well, the particular provision you're talking about, honestly, is just one piece of a 1,000-page bill which is going to grow the American economy.

And everybody has a share. Especially the guy who wasn't going to vote for anything that would increase the deficit.

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[International Business Times / The Tennessean / IBT]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Hell of a coincidence we have here! On the very same day that a Russian spy gets arrested for using the NRA as a conduit to the Republican Party -- ahem POLITICAL PARTY 1! -- the United States Treasury announces that it won't be collecting donor information from "social welfare groups." Guess which "GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION" is a tax exempt social welfare group that raised $337 million in 2016 and will now be able to hide its donor list from the prying eyes of the American public?

Here's a hint:

That's right, donors to the the NRA and those Kochsuckers at Americans for Prosperity can now dump infinity political dollars into their lobbying and electioneering efforts without having their names disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. Or the IRS. Or anyone who might object to propping up lunatic politicians who want to arm preschoolers.

In the bad old days, i.e. yesterday, "social welfare organizations" had to give the IRS names and addresses of anyone donating over $5,000. But now they get to keep it all secret, as White Jesus and Charles Koch intended. Here's how the Treasury explains the change on its website.

Tax-exempt organizations described by section 501(c), other than section 501(c)(3) organizations, are no longer required to report the names and addresses of their contributors on the Schedule B of their Forms 990 or 990-EZ.

Okay, now 'splain us how awesome this is gonna be, Steven Mnuchin!

Americans shouldn't be required to send the IRS information that it doesn't need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area. It is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency. The same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.

BOOOOORING! Hey, Mitch McConnell, you're a big old whore -- say the quiet part out loud to the Wall Street Journal.

The IRS's decision is a move in the right direction to end activist regulators' culture of intimidation to silence political speech. [...] More and more states were using these documents to chill political discourse, rather than encourage it.

That'll do it! Can't do anything about the pizza racists running their mouths and ruining the grift. But you can make it harder for customers to work out what corporate owners do with their earnings. Because money is speech, and speech is free, and we all have a First Amendment right to secretly fund organizations that team up with Russia to ratfuck American elections and starve the poor.

Thanks, Justice Kennedy!

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If you click here to fund us, we promise not to make you read about tax policy tomorrow! PROBABLY.

[ / WSJ]

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Fox News has been LI'L BIT CONFUSED about how to cover Donald Trump's treason meeting with Vladimir Putin. There was a lot of tut-tutting from Fox's daytime journalists (the "real" ones) on Monday, but then it was Double Dipshit Time on Monday night as Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity took over the commentary. Carlson found the real election hackers (brown Mexican people who either move to America and become legal citizens who vote or brown Mexican people who are just born here, as if THAT is allowed!) and declared that Russian meddling is like number 115 on the list of things that threaten America. (The other 114 are the blacks and the Mexicans and the gypsies, because Tucker Carlson is a white supremacist.) Meanwhile, Hannity hosted Donald Trump for some kind of mutual lick-off session where Trump said that Putin had informed him that there was NO COLLUSION. It's good to have a KGB handler who remembers stuff like that!

But even then, there was a hopeful moment! Fox News's Chris Wallace committed an actual act of journalism Monday night when he interviewed Vladimir Putin, going so far as to stick Robert Mueller's indictments in the Russian leader's stupid fucking face and dare him to read them. He even asked Putin why he constantly murders people with poison. GO GET HIM, CHRIS WALLACE!

Usually the next morning's "Fox & Friends" is like Carlson and Hannity's afterbirth, but Tuesday morning was a little bit different! For some reason, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade and Abby Huntsman were not 100% pleased with Dear Leader's behavior in Helsinki! So they put on their Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski masks and did their best impression of a more dumber version of "Morning Joe," and oh my god it was SO WEIRD. Like, they would be outraged for a second, but then they would immediately compliment him and reassure him that he is a Very Good Boy who won that presidential election fair and square.

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