Puerto Rico. Happier Times

Morning After

I looked into Trump’s heart and saw goodness. Others saw a geographically-challenged golfer who doesn’t like brown people.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”

JOHN DICKERSON: Speaking of the government, the president has been quite critical of the mayor of San Juan. What do you make of that?

MARCO RUBIO: I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it to be honest with you …

MARCO RUBIO: But I do think every minute we spend in the political realm bickering with one another over who’s doing what, or who’s wrong, or who didn’t do right is a minute of energy and time that we’re not spending trying to get the response right. And so I think when this is all said and done we’re going to have time to stop, and look back, and say, “Should things have been done differently?”

JOHN DICKERSON: I want to get back to the businesses in a second because there’s obviously some debate about the effective rate they pay, but let’s just stick to the worker for a minute. Can you guarantee that every middle class person will get a tax cut once this becomes a bill and then that passes?

PAUL RYAN: That’s the purpose of doing this. The purpose of this is to get a middle class tax cut, to lower people’s —

JOHN DICKERSON: So is that a guarantee?

PAUL RYAN: Well, I don’t know every single person’s little, small problem or issue —

JOHN DICKERSON: A year ago we talked about race relations in the country and — and you said you hoped candidate — then-candidate Trump would be inclusive. You said, “He’s new at this.” It’s been a year now. How would you rate his ability to bring this country together, which has clearly — an issue —

PAUL RYAN: Well, like I said on the Charlottesville thing, it was — there were like, three comments. One of them was great, two of them — no, four comments, I think. Two good. Two bad. You know? I think, like you say, like I said before, he’s learning. I know his heart’s in the right place. And —

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have also seen the mayor out there in the water as well. She just said she thought FEMA’s heart was in the right place. They’re starting to cut through the red tape right now. Do you really think the Puerto Ricans haven’t been pulling their weight?

LONG: Oh, I believe the Puerto Ricans are pulling their weight. I mean, I think they’re doing what they can.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to go to the benefits for President Trump personally, because he himself has said that he’s not going to benefit from this tax plan. Again, that’s hard to see how that’s true, given the estate tax, the elimination of the AMT, which has benefitted the president in the past, the cut in the top rate. But, also, we talked about these pass-through entities. And based on the president’s financial disclosure form, just from this year — we want to put it up right now — he had about — more than $500 million in taxable income from those pass-through entities taxed at 39.6 percent.

You cut that to 25, that’s a savings of $75.7 million, based on the president’s financial disclosure form last year.

MNUCHIN: George, as we’ve said all along, as we change the pass-through rate, it’s very, very important that we have guard rails around those rules so exactly as you’ve said, this isn’t about creating a tax cut for the rich.

So we spent a lot of time with the staff at the House and Senate. We’re continuing to work on those rules. But we’re going to make sure that that’s not a way that the rich can use to pay lower taxes than they should, whether it’s the president or anyone else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but based on last year’s form, he would have gotten that benefit. So how are Americans going to know whether or not the president gets this benefit if he doesn’t release his tax returns?

MNUCHIN: George, that’s just not fair, because, again, we haven’t published the rules as to what’s going to apply to the pass-through rate. So you’re making certain assumptions that I don’t think are correct.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wouldn’t need to make the assumptions if we had the president’s tax returns.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But eliminating the estate tax will only go to the wealthiest Americans, those that have estates greater than $11 million.

MNUCHIN: Well, you are correct in that sense. And, again, we’ve been talking about the income tax system. As it relates to estate tax, you know, the death tax, we believe that people get taxed once and not twice. And that will enable them to keep lots of family businesses passed along.

Between September 19th, the day before Hurricane Maria hit, and last Sunday, he sent two tweets on Puerto Rico and 12 on sports and the controversy over the national anthem.

No, no, let me finish. I got it, but let me go through. You can’t look at the tax cut on a family until you realized how — how much better off they’re going to be in a growing economy.

Let’s not pretend like Barack Obama didn’t help tear our nation apart on some of these issues. There is nothing unifying in this nation about making catholic nuns buy birth control. There’s nothing unifying when parents of goodwill are trying to have a conversation about balancing the rights of transgendered students versus legitimate fields of privacy and security. And Barack Obama goes from the Department of Education and imposes a progressive view of how those questions should be answered.

It is deeply concerning the way our nation is coming apart. We need a civic reawakening where we come together on all of these issues. It’s probably not going to start with politics. It’s going to start with each of us. But both parties and both of the past presidents have taken actions that have further brought us apart rather than brought us together.

The new rules, issued by the Health and Human Services Department, seek to address religious freedom concerns in two ways: First, they broaden the definition of “religious employers” so that all houses of worship and dioceses and affiliated organizations will be clearly exempt. Second, for other faith-based employers, the rules would transfer the costs and administrative tasks of the birth control insurance policies to insurance companies.

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame. Let’s go to the Republican civil war, David Brooks. I was amused by the people who were asked about Roy Moore, U.S. senators, Republican U.S. senators this week, after he won. Chuck Grassley: “If I’ve read anything he said, I wouldn’t have any recollection of it.” Here’s Susan Collins, “I don’t know him. I think I’ll leave it there.” And then Dean Heller with perhaps the most laughable quote: “Who won? I wasn’t paying attention.” This is a group of people that are not looking forward to a colleague named Roy Moore.

DAVID BROOKS:

Apparently Alzheimer’s is contagious. The mention of Roy Moore closes it.

DAVID BROOKS:

Listen, the Republican Party, what strikes me about this week is they thought they could be the nationalists, the Steve Bannon, the Roy Moores, with money and with organization. And they can’t do that. They need a story. And so what I think the Republicans need to do is first, the globalists need to say, “Hey, you’re nationalists, we’re globalists. We’re going to tell a story. I believe in free trade, I believe in skilled immigration, I believe in global engagement.” And the second thing they need to do is give up on Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Because that kind of leadership, clearly in the Trump era, is not working. And I wish somebody like Bob Corker would form a gang, a gang of eight, a gang of ten, bipartisan Senators do their own tax reform, and actually sort of shake up all of Washington. That seems to me the only way out.

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