On Thursday, Republicans took the first in a series of steps toward what is, for many, the culmination of a lifelong dream: slashing the corporate tax rate and lowering the tax burden on the long-suffering rich. By narrowly passing a budget resolution in the House, lawmakers are now closer to being able to use the reconciliation process to pass tax reform with a simple majority in the Senate (the Senate Budget Committee passed its own budget on Thursday and is expected to send the resolution to the floor for a vote in two weeks). The proposed G.O.P. budget naturally takes a sledgehammer to federal spending on the poor, which is fitting since the party’s corresponding tax cut would do so much for the rich. The final product would combine drastic cuts to the social safety net with a tax plan that could see some members of the middle class paying more in taxes—a one-two punch that would knock the non-rich in the ribs when they’re already down on the ground. (Hope you can swing that E.R. bill!)
The G.O.P. budget would cut $5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years, with a trillion of those dollars coming from the Medicaid program and half a trillion from Medicare. (“Entitlements” like housing assistance and food stamps wouldn’t fare much better.) Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s budget would increase to $620 billion.
Democrats, naturally, are alarmed. The House budget “targets disproportionately the most vulnerable,” said Representative Jim McGovern. “Budgets represent our values, and if this represents Republican values, then shame on you. That, to me, is what this budget represents—it’s about making things worse for people . . . to pay for a tax cut for wealthy people.” Equally incensed were Representatives John Yarmuth and Nancy Pelosi, who accurately described the budget as “a slap in the face [to] anyone who isn’t a millionaire” and “miserable, deceptive, [and] horrible,” respectively.
Republicans offered a not-entirely-convincing rebuttal, pointing to the fact that just because their program would impoverish grandma and grandpa that doesn’t mean said budget cuts will actually make their way into law. Sure, it’s on their wish list, but a lot of things could go on a wish list that might never materialize, like a call to exhume Ronald Reagan’s body and parade him around the Capitol on special occasions. If that’s the case, why not throw in a call to raise money by selling the healthiest elderly‘s organs on the black market? People are really in no place to get upset if it’s unlikely to happen!
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Speaking of tax cuts…
While the passing of the House budget was surely cause for excitement inside the Capitol, not everyone got the memo that it was a special day. Reuters reports that just as Republicans were celebrating this important step, the killjoy academics at the Fed had to open their mouths and ruin everyone’s good time. Although Federal Reserve officials usually refrain from commenting on fiscal policy, San Francisco Fed President John Williams apparently felt the need to offer his two cents in light of the fact that the tax plan revealed last week is so patently ridiculous. Williams said that the framework unveiled by the Trump administration and the G.O.P. might cause a “short-term growth surge” but could ultimately feed “unsustainable growth” that would “ultimately be undone by asset price bubbles, inflation, and possible recession.”
Area investor pioneers new way to avoid alimony
In November, billionaire property developer Asif Aziz and his wife of 14 years, Tagilde Aziz, officially divorced. Now, Aziz wants the decision to be reversed, but not because he’s realized it was all a huge mistake and Tagilde is the love of his life, but because he figures that if he can prove they were never actually married in the first place, he won’t have to split his fortune with her. Per Bloomberg:
Asif Aziz, founder and chief executive officer of the real estate investment company Criterion Capital Ltd., says he was never married to Tagilde Aziz under English law, in a case that lawyers say is one of the largest divorce cases ever in a U.K. court. Tagilde Aziz counters she is the mother of his four children and that he “presented to the world” that they were married. She is seeking a “fair share” of his wealth, which she values at 1.1 billion pounds.
The dispute at a London court Wednesday centers on whether an event that took place in Malawi in 2002, and a previous ceremony in Wimbledon in 1997, were valid weddings. . . . Asif Aziz, for his part, argues that “no ceremony took place at all” in Malawi. He calls the Malawi affair an excuse to obtain “a certificate of convenience” that would allow them to get a passport for a child that they had “informally adopted.”
“The parties have never been married, therefore there’s no marriage to be dissolved by this court,” Aziz’s lawyer, Richard Harrison, argued at a hearing on Wednesday. “I mean not married as a matter of English law.”
Elected official endorses theory George Soros funded Charlottesville Nazi rally
For a certain deranged subset of the far-right fringe, billionaire financier George Soros is a sort of ur-bogeyman, responsible for natural disasters, the bubonic plague, and the disappearance of every child whose face appears on a milk carton. Still, it takes a uniquely unbalanced individual to posit that the Hungarian-born Jew, who lived through the Holocaust, paid the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who descended on Charlottesville last August as part of some kind of false-flag campaign. Amazingly, one of those uniquely unbalanced individuals is Representative Paul Gosar, whose conversation with Vice News, in which he endorsed the theory first postulated by known crockpot Alex Jones, is . . . really something.
VICE News: In fairness, antifa is in the news because of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
GOSAR: Well, isn’t that interesting. Maybe that was created by the Left.
VICE News: Why do you say that?
GOSAR: Because let’s look at the person that actually started the rally. It’s come to our attention that this is a person from Occupy Wall Street that was an Obama sympathizer. So, wait a minute, be careful where you start taking these people to.
And look at the background. You know, you know George Soros is one of those people that actually helps back these individuals. Who is he? I think he’s from Hungary. I think he was Jewish. And I think he turned in his own people to the Nazis. Better be careful where we go with those.
VICE News: Do you think George Soros funded the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville?
GOSAR: Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out?
JPMorgan’s bylaws now include clause in the event of a nuclear disaster
Nothing to see here, just the largest U.S. bank adding a new section to its rules stating that in case there’s a “nuclear or atomic disaster,” any member of the company’s operating committee or board can call a meeting using “any available means of communication,” and that one person is enough to establish a quorum. Sleep well tonight!
Bank Behind Fearless Girl Statue Settles U.S. Gender Pay Dispute (Bloomberg)
Treasury Watchdog Finds Mnuchin’s Aircraft Use Violated No Laws (W.S.J.)
The One Fed Choice That Would Really Spook The Bond Market (Bloomberg)
Tax reform not needed for bull market to continue, says investing expert (CNBC)
Banks consider fleeing Catalonia over split from Spain (CNN Money)
“What’s cool about my fund . . .” (N.Y.P.)
Wells Fargo executives, board must face lawsuit over fake accounts, federal judge says (Reuters)
Bitcoin’s Rise Happened in Shadows of Finance. Now Banks Want In (Bloomberg)
Guinness World Records: Italian man pulls on 13 pairs of underwear in 30 seconds (U.P.I.)