Tag: trump election lies
Right-Wing Media Back Trump's 'Deranged' Plan To Replace Tax With Tariffs

Right-Wing Media Back Trump's 'Deranged' Plan To Replace Tax With Tariffs

During a June 13 meeting with Republican elected officials on Capitol Hill, disgraced former president, convicted felon, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reportedly floated a proposal for a second term that could involve replacing income taxes with tariffs (taxes on imported goods). Republican attendees later confirmed that Trump had proposed using tariffs (which increase costs for consumers) to cut or even replace income taxes.

Tax and economic policy experts from across the political spectrum criticized Trump's proposal, which could severely disrupt international commerce and the domestic economy while supplanting the United States' existing system of progressive income taxation with regressive consumption taxes.

Some in media blasted the idea as impossible and even “deranged,” pointing out that it would be impossible to replace income tax revenue with tariffs, with experts highlighting that the plan would amount to a huge tax increase for middle class and lower-income Americans. Yet, some in conservative media offered support for the unworkable idea.

Media outlets explain that Trump’s idea just can’t work

Business-focused news organizations such as Bloomberg and even the conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal noted in their reporting of Trump’s idea that replacing income taxes with tariffs is simply unworkable. On cable news, MSNBC called out Trump’s idea as “bananas,” “deranged,” and devastating for working Americans.

  • Bloomberg: “Using tariff increases to offset income taxes is a tall order, because the US brings in much more money from levies on individuals than on imported products.” Bloomberg noted that “customs duties still make up just 2% of federal revenues — while the individual income tax made up almost half of federal receipts in 2023, according to the Office of Management and Budget.” Bloomberg further explained that “increasing tariffs to pay for even a modest tax cut would require a massive hike in import levies that would mean a big increase on consumer prices.” [Bloomberg, 6/13/24]
  • The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s idea of “replacing the entire income tax system with tariffs” is “an arithmetically challenged plan that would reverse more than 100 years of progressive taxation and is virtually assured to raise consumer prices.”The Wall Street Journal further explained that “Trump’s tariffs—or any tariffs—are almost certainly too small to replace the entire income tax. The U.S. imports less than $4 trillion of goods annually and it collects $2.5 trillion in individual income taxes, which means it would take tariff rates of 70% or higher to fill the void left by repealing income taxes. It depends, too, on how much demand for imported goods changes as tariffs rise.” [The Wall Street Journal, 6/14/24]
  • MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle: Trump’s policy pitch “was bananas.” One of her guests, CNBC senior analyst Ron Insana, replied that “it would launch a global trade war because you’d get retaliatory tariffs from every other country on the planet.” He added, “We import $3.8 trillion worth of goods. We take in $2.5 trillion in revenue from individual income taxes. So, do the math. You’d have to basically almost put 100% tariffs on all imported goods coming to the United States, which would exacerbate inflation, launch a global trade war, possibly spark a recession or worse.” [MSNBC, The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 6/13/24]
  • MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: “Donald Trump proposed one of the most deranged policies I have ever heard.” [MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes, 6/13/24]

CHRIS HAYES (HOST): Today, behind closed doors, outside of the view of cameras, Donald Trump proposed one of the most deranged policies I have ever heard. He told Republican lawmakers behind closed doors he wants to eliminate the income tax and replace it entirely with tariffs, effectively taking us back to the 19th century. This idea makes as much sense as ripping up the entire Interstate Highway System and replacing it with canals.

Economist Paul Krugman did some back of the envelope math and estimates the policy, quote, “would require an average tariff of 133%.” Not 10%. That is a 133% tax hike on all imported goods that would be passed on to consumers. A sales tax of 133%. It would cost Americans hundreds of millions of dollars. Former senior policy adviser to the National Economic Council Brendan Duke explained further, quote: “Another way to put Trump's latest incredibly unworkable idea. One—” get this, “It would raise taxes by $5,000 for a typical family,” if you’re a working person who buys stuff. “It would cut taxes for the average family in the top 0.1% by $1.5 million.”

This proposal would jack up everything, everywhere for normal people, crushing the average American's wallet, while giving the wealthiest folks who no longer have to pay an income tax and don't buy that much relative to their income, an enormous windfall. Millions and millions of dollars. This is the man who has a 50-50 shot of taking the White House, in large part because of the macroeconomic conditions that produced high inflation. And he is seriously, quite seriously and earnestly, currently running on the most insanely inflationary platform I’ve ever seen. Higher prices, higher taxes, for everyone. It would make what we’ve seen over the last few years look like nothing.

Experts from across the political spectrum explain how Trump’s proposal would raise prices and taxes on the middle class and why it can’t replace the income tax

  • Senior fellow Kyle Pomerleau of the conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote: “Fundamentally unserious stuff. … The price of imports would rise, but so would the [dollar], leading to lower sales and income for exporters.” [MarketWatch, 6/13/24]
  • Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget senior vice president Marc Goldwein: “U.S. imports total ~$3.5 trillion per year, while total income tax revenue is about $3 trillion ($2.5t individual). You’d be well on the wrong side of the tariff Laffer Curve if you tried this.” Goldwein’s Laffer Curve comment reflects the hypothesis that setting high tariffs (as a tax) would end up reducing the economic activity it is taxing, thus reducing the amount of revenue. [MarketWatch, 6/13/24; Cato Institute, 11/21/23]
  • Tax Foundation senior economist and research director Erica York: “The individual income tax raises about $2 trillion annually on a tax base of personal income of roughly $15 trillion. Customs duties currently raise about $80 billion annually on imports of $3.4 trillion.” [MarketWatch, 6/13/24]
  • Former White House Council of Economic Advisers chief economist Ernie Tedeschi: “The most important takeaway from the last 48 hours of tax talk is that President Trump is seriously toying with a large, broad additional tariff as a central component of our tax system. Regardless of the specific rate, that means a substantially higher middle class tax burden.” [Twitter/X, 6/14/24]
  • Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman: “My first-pass estimate” on Trump’s idea of replacing the income tax with tariffs “is that this would require an *average* tariff rate of 133 percent.” Krugman added: “So how is it that in the 19th century the federal government largely paid its way with tariffs? Because back then the government was much, much smaller. Believing that we can go back to those days is just ignorant.” [Twitter/X, 6/13/24, 6/13/24]
  • Brendan Duke, senior director for economic policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund wrote: “It shifts taxes from wealthy people to low- and middle-income people and people who buy groceries and people who go to Target.” In a thread posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Duke also explained how Trump’s idea could have negative “effects on democracy and transparency” as well, including by potentially granting “tariff exemptions to supporters & people who give him money” and raising “tariffs on his supporters' foreign competitors,” which would “dovetail” with “the Trump/Project 2025 project of eliminating the bureaucracy's guardrails from political interference.” [The Wall Street Journal, 6/14/24; Twitter/X, 6/14/24, 6/14/24]
  • Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell: With millions of Americans who pay no income taxes paying tariffs instead, “this sounds like a huge tax increase on the lower/middle income classes.” [CNBC, 6/13/24]
  • Economic analyst Steven Rattner: “Swapping all income tax for tariffs would be unbelievably regressive.” [MarketWatch, 6/13/24]

Right-wing and fringe media endorse Trump’s impossible idea

    • Heritage Foundation economist and former Trump adviser Stephen Moore: Trump’s 10% earlier tariff proposal could instead pay for extending the Trump tax cuts, or the revenue could be dedicated to “lower[ing] the payroll tax—which deters work and hiring.” Moore's pivot to the payroll tax is telling, as it is the dedicated funding source for Social Security, a long-time target of right-wing devotees committed to altering and eventually eliminating the crucial benefit program for retirees. [The Wall Street Journal, 6/14/24; Media Matters, 3/13/24]
    • Moore on Newsmax: “If you could actually eliminate the federal income tax and replace it with an across-the-board tariff, that would be a very good thing for the economy.” Moore continued with his full-throated endorsement of the idea: “Obviously, it would mean, you know, we wouldn't have 40, 50, 70%, you know, progressive income tax rates. You'd be taxing people on their consumption rather than their investments and savings. So, it'd be rocket fuel for the economy if you could do it.” Moore concluded: “For the first 100 and almost 150 years of this country, we had no income tax and we funded most of our government through tariffs. And that was a much more efficient way to fund government than through our crazy income tax right now.” [Newsmax, The National Report, 6/14/24]
    • On Fox Business, Moore retreated from humoring Trump’s idea as a replacement for the income tax: “This is a perfect example of where the left takes Trump literally and not seriously.” Moore watered down Trump’s idea, saying: “He wasn't saying we’re going to completely eliminate the income tax. What he meant to say is that with the tariff revenue that we bring in, if he does that 10% across-the-board tariff, we could use some of that money to reduce income taxes. You could maybe reduce the — you could probably get rid of the entire gift and estate and the death tax. You could maybe cut the capital gains tax. Maybe you could reduce the payroll tax on workers a little bit.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 6/17/24]
    • Fox Business host and former Trump adviser Larry Kudlow admitted Trump’s tariff idea can’t replace individual income tax, but pushed it as a replacement for corporate taxes. On his show, Kudlow said “the numbers don’t work” to replace individual income taxes with tariffs before adding: “But the corporate income tax numbers work.” [Fox Business, Kudlow, 6/14/24]
    • Fox & Friends First co-host Todd Piro: “Could Trump get rid of the income tax?” Fox Business anchor Cheryl Casone replied, “I want to say that sounds good, but — OK, let me explain this. It sounds good.” She continued, “Former President Trump is now floating the idea of the U.S. eliminating income taxes, replacing it with tariffs on imported goods. He also says that tariffs could be negotiating leverage against bad actors out there.” Casone then suggested the idea was a way for Trump to get campaign financing from Wall Street, but did not say that the idea would be unworkable. [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 6/14/24]
    • Fox Business host Charles Payne: “It’s one of these things that … sounds nuts, that sounds far fetched. … Except if — most Americans don’t realize we didn’t always have an income tax.” Payne lamented the initial creation of the income tax structure a century ago, proclaiming “when government got bigger, it got hungrier for power” after the two World Wars. Payne acknowledged “it couldn’t work completely now” but seemed to express nostalgia for when America “actually had an economy driven by zero income taxes.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/14/24]
    • Fox Business correspondent Hillary Vaughn: “If the side effect of all of this … is the government being cut down to size, Republicans probably won’t see that as a downside.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 6/14/24]
    • Gateway Pundit referred to Trump’s idea as “a bold proposal” and “bombshell proposal” to “abolish income tax and implement an ‘all tariff policy.’” [The Gateway Pundit, 6/13/24]
    • Townhall: “Trump Gets Positive Feedback After Floating Proposal of Eliminating Income Tax.” Townhall’s idea of “positive feedback” appears to consist of posts from several random pro-Trump social media users who agreed with the idea. [Townhall, 6/13/24]
    • Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier: “Eliminating the income tax and replacing it with tariffs doesn’t sound like a bad idea.” [Twitter/X, 6/13/24]
    • Multiple QAnon figures endorsed Trump’s idea. QAnon John wrote: “This would be a MASSIVE BLOW to the Central Bank Cabal. Quite possibly THE single most devastating blow Trump could bring to the Globalists. With a cessation of income tax feeding the fiat debt machine, the Federal Reserve would be FORCED to dissolve into the abyss. It would be the END OF THE FED & DEBT SLAVERY. THAT IS HOW YOU MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. BRING. IT. ON.” Woke Societies wrote: “Who’s going to say no to this? Trump just won.” Jordan Sather wrote: “How can you not support this?” [Gab, 6/13/24; Telegram, 6/13/24, 6/14/24; Media Matters, 4/18/22]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Mike Johnson

Does Johnson Really Believe All That 'Biblical' Shuck And Jive? Nah

Everybody in the South has known somebody like House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA): an amiable, polite, well-dressed religious crackpot who’s either completely out of his mind or pretends to be for career purposes. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

If you’re an ambitious politician someplace like his hometown of Shreveport, there’s no penalty for professing belief in all manner of absurdities calculated to reassure God-intoxicated true believers in backwoods churches that you’re one of them. Everybody understands, especially the people who put up the money.

There’s nothing in the Bible, for example, that compels Johnson to profess disbelief in climate change—although he could probably manufacture something, if challenged. There are, however, plenty of oil and gas wells around the Ark-La-Tex, as the area around Shreveport and Texarkana is called, and the people who own them mean to extract every cubic centimeter from the ground and turn it into cash. The bulk of Johnson’s campaign funds come from the petrochemical industry.

Never mind that finding oil requires hiring geologists that understand the actual age of the earth, some 13.8 billion years, rather than the 6600 decreed by Answers in Genesis, the Kentucky theme-park Johnson once represented, with its life-sized Noah’s Ark exhibit and sea-faring brontosauruses. The congressman has insisted that the Bible story represents historical truth.

It’s the same with evolution. As a creationist, does he take his children to physicians who reject biological science as a Satanic lie? Even in Shreveport, those can be hard to find. So, it’s all a shuck and a jive. Almost everybody who’s been to college—Johnson has two degrees from Lousiana State University—understands the rules of the game, and everybody plays along.

In media interviews, Johnson is anything but shy about advertising his piety, recently describing himself to Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity as “a Bible-believing Christian.” To understand his views, he said “pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my worldview.”

A skeptic might observe that Scripture has been interpreted in rather a lot of different ways over the centuries. To Johnson, however, it’s only in Southern Baptist churches in North Louisiana that perfect fealty to God’s word has been achieved. All others are heretics or worse.

Also during his interview with Hannity, however, Johnson displayed a newfound willingness to accept political reality. He told his host that gay marriage is a settled issue and that there’s no national consensus on abortion. In the past, he has blamed legal abortion for mass shootings: also, feminism, no-fault divorce laws, and the “sexual revolution.”

"When you break up the nuclear family, when you tell a generation of people that life has no value, no meaning, that it’s expendable,” he told a New York magazine interviewer in 2015, “then you do wind up with school shooters.”

Because to the fundamentalist mind, only two possibilities exist. Either you agree with them on every issue, or you’re “of the devil” and an enemy of God. Indeed, Johnson has compared same-sex marriage to the right of "a person to marry his pet."

Which come to think of it…

Who starts purring madly when I climb into the marital bad at night? My wife or Martin the cat? Who gets up early to read the newspaper, and who stays wedged by my side? Have I chosen the wrong gender and species?

But I digress. Rep. Johnson claims firmer views. See, when the U.S. Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” it really means that Protestant fundamentalism rules.

Similarly, when Thomas Jefferson wrote that “It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods or no God,” he really meant to establish a Biblical republic based upon a literalist reading of scripture. That this is absurdly ahistorical matters hardly at all. It’s called “Christian Nationalism,” and millions in the so-called Red States have chosen to believe it.

Theirs is an embattled faith. According to Johnson, “it is only and always the Christian viewpoint that is getting censored. The fact is the left is always trying to shut down the voices of the Christians.”

And yet God has elevated a champion. “I believe God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment,” he said during his first speech upon being elected Speaker.

And that champion’s main purpose, he has made clear, will be elevating, Donald J. Trump, that thrice-married, career adulterer, pussy-grabber and adjudicated rapist to the presidency. Johnson was one of the prime movers among GOP congressmen trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, crafting absurd legal arguments even the Republican-majority Supreme Court rejected out of hand.

Think about it: Trump re-installed in the White House.

Wouldn’t that be a glorious day for the Lord?

Gene Lyons is a former columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a winner of the National Magazine Award, and co-author of The Hunting of the President.

Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson Seems Nice -- Until You Take A Closer Look

Mike Johnson, the four-term Louisiana representative just elected as House speaker, makes a pleasant first impression. That may be why his fellow Republicans chose such an untested politician, with no obvious qualifications, to fill that demanding post. Or they may have simply succumbed to exhaustion and embarrassment after the procedural fiasco that left Congress in limbo for weeks.

Whatever their motivations, it is now clear that Johnson's sudden elevation was a wildly irresponsible act. Behind his thin biography and bland smile is a fanatical mindset that will threaten constitutional order and the democratic process. Throughout his public career, the new speaker has espoused the ideology of Christian nationalism, which marks him as hostile to religious pluralism, rational inquiry and personal dignity.

His perspective sets him far outside the mainstream of American life. Which is not too surprising, because he appears to exist in a far-right dimension of fantasy.

Consider the most obvious stain on Johnson's record, which alone ought to have disqualified him from such high office, namely the starring role he played in former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. Billing himself as a constitutional lawyer, he crafted a legal brief, signed by congressional Republicans, that aimed to disqualify millions of votes in four key states because of fake "fraud" claims.

Those claims had already failed and the Supreme Court swiftly rejected Johnson's arguments. Then he voted against certifying Joe Biden's victory on the House floor.

Presumably that was why Trump, the chief saboteur of democracy, endorsed him for speaker. But Johnson went all the way, voicing the discredited conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems equipment that eventually cost Fox News Channel nearly $800 million in libel damages. "The allegation about these voting machines, some of them being rigged with the software by Dominion — look, there's a lot of merit to that," he said on a Louisiana radio show, describing Dominion's product as "a software system that is used all around the country that is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela."

Those accusations were unequivocally false, as Johnson could easily have discovered for himself. Either he didn't care whether what he was saying about a free and fair election was true — or he was eager to repeat lies because they had been uttered by Trump's lawyers.

Underneath his mild-mannered persona, Johnson is afflicted with a dogmatic temperament that prizes partisan and sectarian belief over factual evidence. He has proclaimed his confidence in the "creationist" superstition that proclaims Earth is only six thousand years old, because the Bible appears to say so, and not 4.6 billion years old as determined by astronomers and geologists. Indeed Scripture, or at least his interpretation of it, provides his all-purpose intellectual guide.

To anyone who asks, "What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?" he offers a simple reply. "Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it — that's my worldview. That's what I believe and so I make no apologies for it."

Where this strict adherence to Biblical law and lore will lead him on economic or foreign policy questions remains to be revealed, although the precedents are ominous. Christian "charity" is not characteristic of Christian nationalists, who have shown an inclination to torment the poor and working class that Jesus would not approve. And owing to their obsession with other people's sex lives, we already know what he thinks about gays and lesbians and anyone else who doesn't conform to his notions of morality.

Yes, Mike Johnson is one of those people who feels obliged to denigrate people defined as "deviant" by his religious sect. He would outlaw their sexual lifestyles and punish them severely, much like the Iranian regime or the Taliban. In his worldview, too, deviance is a sin that extends beyond homosexuals and transsexuals to anyone who has sex outside the bounds of marriage or who asserts the right to reproductive freedom. He has declared that the state has a compelling interest in suppressing such "damaging" conduct, including contraception.

What were Republicans thinking when they installed this bigot as speaker of the House? Did they expect Americans to welcome his rigid ignorance and aggressive prejudice? They've made Trump happy, but before long they will answer to voters for this mad insult.

Joe Conason is editor-in-chief of The National Memo and editor-at-large of Type Investigations. He is the author of several books, including two New York Times bestsellers. His latest book, The Longest Con: How Grifters, Swindlers And Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism, will be published by St. Martin's Press in 2024.

GOP 'Moderates' Kneel As House Picks Election-Denying Extremist Speaker

GOP 'Moderates' Kneel As House Picks Election-Denying Extremist Speaker

By Wednesday morning, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who initiated the House Republicans' speaker debacle, was already celebrating the impending elevation of a MAGA election denier as the next speaker of the House.

"If you don't think that moving from Kevin McCarthy to MAGA Mike Johnson shows the ascendance of this movement and where the power in the Republican Party truly lies, then you're not paying attention," Gaetz gushed on Steve Bannon's podcast "War Room."

Gaetz isn't wrong. Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana ha been a quintessential pro-Trump, pro-insurrectionist flamethrower from the word “go.”

As CBS News' Robert Costa tweeted:

Important to know: Johnson was deeply involved in efforts to keep Trump in power starting immediately after 2020 election. Early Nov. 2020. I know because I spent months reporting on that period and he was part of letters and behind-scenes efforts with key outside groups. I’ve talked with key sources from that time about how Johnson — then all but unknown — worked with allied Trump groups and conservative leaders in a coordinated way to make sure that whole orbit was working together to help Trump.

Now, with Johnson officially in control of the gavel, the MAGA wing of the Republican Party will have forced their will on the majority of House Republicans who would have preferred someone more moderate, such as Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, a member of leadership who voted to certify the 2020 election.

That's why a cohesive group of House GOP members with at least a toehold in reality coordinated their votes to doom the speaker bid of Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Jordan built his career on trying to destroy the institution he worked in, engineering the exit of at least semi-reasonable Republican speakers-past, such as Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

So why did Republicans coalesce around Johnson, a democracy subverter in the mold of Jordan? Here are two potential reasons: Johnson, who began his first term in 2017, has had a decade less time to amass the number of enemies that Jordan has since joining the House in 2007.

Second, and equally as important, the relatively saner members of the House Republican caucus probably came to a simple conclusion: They would have to settle for an election denier as their leader because Trump and his MAGA allies would never let anyone else through. Trump runs the party, and the speakership runs through him. Trump single-handedly doomed Emmer's speaker bid precisely because he voted to certify the 2020 election.

So the choice for the Republican realists was either elect a MAGA election denier or work with Democrats to elect someone who hasn’t been an outright subverter of American democracy. And to do that, it would have meant placing the country over their own electoral ambitions because any Republican realist in a red district surely would have drawn a primary opponent.

The takeaways of a Johnson speakership are simple: The MAGA wing of the Republican Party, having beaten down the so-called GOP moderates, is running the joint, leaving the Sen. Mitch McConnell wing of the party on an island taking incoming fire from all sides.

Moderate House Republicans can never again be counted on to tone down their MAGA allies, because those MAGA allies would sooner burn down the House, so to speak, than let saner forces run it. In other words, moderates in pursuit of governance will never outmaneuver MAGA nihilists.

But the worst is yet to come. Under the leadership of Johnson, anti-democracy Republicans will surely provide a mesmerizing display of pyrotechnics aimed at destroying functional democracy both at home and abroad.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

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