China Will Decide When the Afghanistan War Ends

It is simply a matter of reverse engineering. If you get to the Taliban through Pakistan and you get to Pakistan through China, then clearly, Beijing is in the driver’s seat. Pakistan merely holds the valve that regulates the Taliban and the supply of our troops.

The conflict will end in a whimper, a political settlement whose main purpose is to provide a graceful exit that politely delays the announcement of a Taliban victory and a humiliating defeat for the U.S. and NATO, all choreographed by China, who will then set up shop as the dominant regional power.

China’s strategy is based on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative, which aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones. CPEC is an infrastructure project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar in Balochistan Province and Karachi in Sindh province, both located on the Arabian Sea.

Control of Afghanistan via its proxy Pakistan will allow China to complete transportation corridors, power grids and oil and gas pipelines throughout Central and South Asia. China can then begin to exploit Afghanistan’s estimated $3 trillion in untapped mineral resources, in addition to Balochistan’s $1 trillion in gold, copper, oil, precious stones, coal, chromite and natural gas.

CPEC calls for the influx of up to 500,000 Chinese professionals into Gwadar for port and naval facility development as well as expansion of the international airport to handle heavy cargo flights. The Chinese have visited and bought land in Sonmiani, which houses Pakistan’s spaceport and space research center as well as a planned liquid natural gas terminal. In addition, Balochistan’s Arabian Sea coast will become dotted with Chinese military bases, from which Beijing will dominate the vital sea lanes leading to the Persian Gulf and provide a link to the Chinese base in Djibouti at the entrance of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, both strategic choke points.

Breitbart News Executive Chairman and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon warned recently that America’s attention needs to be focused on China, or it will be left behind in the communist country’s wake.

Bannon stated that China would become the dominant global power if that country achieved five things in the coming years and the U.S. did not thwart them:

1. The rollout of fifth generation mobile technology – known as “5G.”

2. The expansion of the One Belt One Road Initiative – a transport system to go through central Asia and connect China to the Middle East.

3. Plan 2025 – 10 industries the Chinese have aimed to dominate by 2025. Bannon described the Chinese as “way ahead.” Bannon said three of those are silicon chips, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

4. Conversion of all oil transactions into Chinese currency, which he said will end America as a reserve currency and force the U.S. to start paying off the 20 trillion debt.

5. Financial technology. Bannon said the true piece of leverage with North Korea is the ability to decouple countries from the world’s financial system, sanction companies, and shut banks off from capital markets. He predicted that in 5-10 years that ability is gone.

The continued presence of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan remains an obstacle to China’s regional ambitions (Bannon’s item #2), which are both economic and military.

The United States and NATO have been expending huge quantities of blood and treasure to create a stable and democratic Afghanistan, free from transnational Islamic extremists and as a “useful platform for the regional counterterrorist effort,” so claims retired Gen. David Petraeus, although he doesn’t use the word “Islamic.”

Never mind that the “useful platform” has been unable for over sixteen years to counter the terrorists operating freely from safe havens just across the border in Pakistan or that the transnational terrorists that struck on 9/11 originated from outside of Afghanistan, that is, Pakistanis and Arabs.
Compared to 2001, there are now a far greater number of terrorist epicenters from which strikes can be made against the U.S. or its NATO allies, not the least of which are Islamic terrorists inside western societies linked to those epicenters.

Current U.S. Afghanistan policy can profit from a healthy injection of realpolitik.

The U.S. has actually more to gain by leveraging instability and thwarting Chinese ambitions in South Asia than by continuing the expensive and exhausting tasks of counterinsurgency and nation building in Afghanistan from which we will accrue a diminishing number of strategic benefits. (For more from the author of “China Will Decide When the Afghanistan War Ends” please click HERE)

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Al Franken Spins ‘Apology’ Into Fake Feminism Shield

Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., is trying to spin his apology to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct into evidence that he’s a champion of feminism.

On Thursday, Leeann Tweeden accused Sen. Franken of forcing her to kiss him and shoving his tongue down her throat during a comedy tour to entertain U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2006. She also shared a photograph of Franken appearing to grope her breasts while she was asleep.

Tweeden said she felt “disgusted and violated” by Franken. The picture of Franken with his hands over her breasts made her feel “embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.”

There were immediate calls for Franken to resign from the U.S. Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has called for the Ethics Committee to begin an investigation into Franken’s conduct.

In a statement responding to the photographic evidence Tweeden provided, Franken apologized and then asserted that he respects women.

“I respect women,” Franken said. “I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”

Franken went on to say the recent widespread reports of sexual abuse in Hollywood, the media, and in politics are cause for reflection.

“I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture.” Then he turns.

“And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.”

Though Franken says he doesn’t remember shoving his tongue down Tweeden’s throat, he says he understands “why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”

He will “gladly” cooperate with the ethics investigation, he says. And whatever people think of Franken and his perverted behavior toward Tweeden, captured in a photograph, is “far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward with their stories.”

“They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them,” Franken concluded.

This apology is the real joke. Franken doesn’t respect women. He’s made demeaning and inappropriate, sexualized jokes about women for decades. Now that there’s photographic evidence that he’s acted in the disgusting manner he joked about for years, he wants to hide behind his liberalism.

Franken issued this apology, and Tweeden accepted his apology, but only after the evidence of what he did was made public. Tweeden noted that he did not apologize at any time during the 11 years following the tour.

What is the standard here? If we disqualify our elected officials from holding office upon credible allegations of sexual misconduct, then Franken has got to go. This pathetic “apology” changes nothing. (For more from the author of “Al Franken Spins ‘Apology’ Into Fake Feminism Shield” please click HERE)

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Efforts to Derail Roy Moore Are Right out of the Establishment’s Playbook; Here’s How

Whether you believe any or all of the allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, the establishment/mainstream media’s playbook to thwart the insurgent is being executed by the numbers.

I witnessed firsthand the same methods employed against GOP U.S. Senate nominee Joe Miller while serving as his press secretary in 2010 in Alaska.

The Tea Party favorite shocked the political world when he came out of nowhere to upset incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski and win the Republican primary. Between her and her father Frank, who appointed her to the position after being elected governor in 2002, the Murkowskis had held the seat since the early 1980s.

Miller headed into the general election as the hands-down favorite in red Alaska against the little-known Democrat nominee, Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams. But then, the establishment/media onslaught began.

Both Miller and Murkowski had promised days before primary election day in late August that they would honor the results, but in mid-September, just weeks after losing the race, the senator announced her write-in bid, saying that she was “taking the gloves off.”

Like Moore’s race, the media attacks against Miller followed a familiar pattern: finances; allegations of past unethical, even illegal conduct in relation to his past employment; and accusations against his wife in relation to her employment with him as a judge.

The attacks were very similar to the ones leveled at Moore and his wife Kayla by the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell-affiliated Senate Leadership Fund and The Washington Post in relation to the couple’s non-profit, The Foundation For Moral Law.

Having addressed and weathered all the allegations, and throwing in a bizarre incident in which a Barack Obama-supporting FBI informant took it upon himself to conduct a citizen’s arrest of a reporter at a Miller town hall, the candidates were running neck-and-neck just days before the general election.

Perhaps that’s why the local CBS affiliate KTVA, which had been very hostile toward Miller, hoped they would find a sex scandal to knock the conservative candidate out once and for all.

The weekend before the election, I received a call from Nick McDermott, a producer with the station. It went to voice mail. As Fox News reported, I soon received a text from him in which he wrote, “D— iPhone … I left you a long message. I thought I hung up. Sorry.”

What was captured in the message was part of a strategy meeting ahead of a rally former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would be headlining that night.

A female reporter or producer is heard yelling, “Child molesters!”

A male reporter responds, “Oh, yes. Can you repeat Joe Miller’s list of people, campaign workers, which one is the molester?”

A female reporter then added, “We know that out of all the people that will show up tonight, at least one of them will be a registered sex offender.”

“We have to find that one person,” a male reporter responds.

A female reporter chimed in, “And the one thing we can do is — we won’t know. We won’t know but if there is any sort of chaos whatsoever, we can put out a Twitter/Facebook alert saying what the — ‘Hey, Joe Miller punched at rally …’”

“Kind of like Rand Paul, I like that,” another replied.

KTVA admitted to the meeting and ultimately fired two of the producers who were part of it; however, one of the station’s anchors, Matt Felling, would go on to become Murkowski’s communications director shortly after she won re-election, 39 percent to Miller’s 35.

Two accusers have come forward in the case of Roy Moore alleging they were sexually assaulted by him in the 1970s.

The candidate has denied the allegations, saying he never even knew the women. The former Alabama chief justice has shown no inclination to exit the race.

McConnell has stated he is actively looking for a write-in candidate to run against Moore and the Democrat.

On his radio program on Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh said McConnell is on a “search-and-destroy mission.”

“Whether Judge Moore did the deed or deeds or not, what’s really happening here folks, if you really want to know — it’s a multi-faceted search-and-destroy mission here,” Limbaugh stated.

“But what’s really driving this — do not doubt me about this. But what’s really driving this is Mitch McConnell saying to Steve Bannon, ‘Really? You think you’re going to get your guys elected? You think you are going to get your guys elected and me kicked out of here? Really? Seriously? OK, watch this,’” he added.

In 2016, the establishment and the media employed the same strategy of trying to make Donald Trump the unacceptable choice in relation to Hillary Clinton, going after his finances in the form of demands that he release his tax returns, allegations of past unethical conduct in relation to his employment, and accusations of sexual harassment and other misconduct.

The efforts, though vigorous, ultimately failed.

Alabama voters will have to decide whether they believe Moore or his accusers, but one thing is certain — the establishment/media playbook to take out a candidate is being executed to a T. (For more from the author of “Efforts to Derail Roy Moore Are Right out of the Establishment’s Playbook; Here’s How” please click HERE)

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Could the Senate Really Expel Roy Moore After the Election?

On Monday, a second woman, Beverly Young Nelson, accused Judge Roy Moore of sexual assault when Nelson was 14 and Moore an adult in his 30s. This is similar to the timeframe established by the previous accuser.

Shortly thereafter, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cory Gardner, said that he would support the expulsion of Moore by the senate, should the people of Alabama elect Moore for the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

While constitutional, as Politico’s Steven Shepard noted, an expulsion attempt of a directly elected senator has never succeeded.

There is little the Senate Republicans or the Alabama Republican Party could do to affect the special election and still win. For his part, Moore, the duly certified Republican Party nominee, shows no signs of backing out, even amid the new accusations and chorus of calls for him to do so.

Despite some initial confusion last week when the news broke of a woman accusing Moore of sexual misconduct, there is no way for Moore’s name to be taken off the Dec. 12 general election ballot, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told the Washington Examiner. The ballot was certified on Oct. 18 and “a lot of people have already voted,” explained Merrill.

However, despite Alabama’s “sore loser” law, write-in votes for Moore’s primary challengers would be counted, Merrill told the Examiner. But would a write-in candidacy do anything but elect a Democrat?

In the event the state and/or national party backs a Republican write-in candidate, it’s very likely that such a move would split the vote between likely Republican voters who think the accusations are disqualifying and those who outright don’t believe the accusations — providing the Democrats a significant advantage.

If Moore wins the Dec. 12 election, after he is sworn in, the case could be sent to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics for its own investigation into the matter. The committee would then vote whether or not to recommend Moore for expulsion. If the committee votes to recommend expulsion, the matter would go to the full Senate.

According to Article II of the Constitution, the threshold to remove a member of either chamber of Congress is a two-thirds majority. If successful, the seat would again be vacated in Alabama and start the special-election process all over again. State Gov. Kay Ivey would also appoint a person to fill the vacant seat on an interim basis.

According to the U.S. Senate website, the Senate has considered expulsion 30 times and voted to expel 15 members. Fourteen members were expelled for supporting the Confederacy and one for “anti-Spanish conspiracy.” Of the remaining 15, five resigned before action could be taken, one had his term expire, and nine had no action taken or were not expelled.

Since the adoption of the 17th Amendment in 1913, there has not been a vote in favor of expulsion in the United States Senate.

The Senate Select Committee on Ethics has previously recommended expulsion for members without conviction for crimes, such as in the sexual misconduct and abuse-of-power case against Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood.

In other cases, it has not acted — most notably when Sen. Edward Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident in which Mary Jo Kopechne died after Kennedy drove off a bridge in Chappaquiddick. Nor has the Senate taken action on the corruption charges currently facing Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

It would be constitutional for the Senate to vote to expel Roy Moore should he win the election. That course of action would be extraordinary, especially since the people who vote in the election would have had the time to weigh the information from Moore’s accusers before casting their votes. (For more from the author of “Could the Senate Really Expel Roy Moore After the Election?” please click HERE)

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Alabama, Roy Moore, and the Truth

A political firestorm has kicked off in the Alabama special Senate election.

According to a report at the The Washington Post Thursday, a woman says GOP nominee Roy Moore sexually assaulted her in 1979 when she was 14 and he was 32. Two other women told the Post that Moore pursued them decades ago when they were underage.

Moore denied the report, calling it “garbage,” “fake news,” and “intentional defamation.”

Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and others called for Moore to step aside if the allegations are true. “However, we need to know the truth,” Cruz added, “and Judge Moore has the right to respond to these accusations.”

Sen. Rob Portman said he believes the allegations at face value because the accusers identified themselves on the record, and Sen. John McCain called the allegations alone “disqualifying.”

Many readers are wondering what this means for the Alabama race. Moore’s name cannot be removed from the Dec. 12 special election ballot, according to Alabama law. AL.com reporter Christopher Harress quoted this section of the code in his Thursday report:

“Any amendment filed after the 76th day before a primary or a general election shall be accepted by the judge of probate or the Secretary of State but shall not be cause for reprinting of the ballots,” according to the statute.”

The name of a candidate who is the subject of the amendment and who is disqualified by a political party or who has withdrawn as a candidate shall remain on the ballot, not be replaced by the name of another candidate, and the appropriate canvassing board shall not certify any votes for the candidate.”

If the Republican Party chooses to remove Moore as the party’s candidate, any votes he receives would not be certified under the law, according to a report citing John Bennett, deputy chief of staff for the Alabama secretary of state’s office.

Initial reports suggested that current Sen. Luther Strange and Rep. Mo Brooks (Moore’s challengers in the GOP Senate primary) would both be ineligible as write-in candidates in the special election. However according to an Alabama Secretary of State press release, Brooks and Strange would be eligible as write-in candidates.

The allegations against Moore are deeply troubling, as are the obscene, partisan attempts to minimize or justify child molestation.

The only acceptable defense is the truth, and right now, only Roy Moore and his accusers know for sure what that is.

Every American, and especially every Alabama voter, has a moral obligation to trust but verify. We have a duty to put politics aside, scrutinize the facts, hold true to our principles, and as always, seek truth and justice. (For more from the author of “Alabama, Roy Moore, and the Truth” please click HERE)

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How the KGB Birthed the JFK Assassination Conspiracy Industry

President Donald Trump’s release of the classified documents connected with John F. Kennedy’s assassination is a crucial step toward helping the United States – and the rest of the world – to understand the Kremlin’s “science” of disinformation. Its deliberate lies about the circumstances surrounding that assassination have generated 54 years of alleged American involvement in that hideous crime, 45 years of Cold War, and the still-emerging evidence of Kremlin interference in our 2016 election.

Unfortunately, President Trump’s courageous exposure of the KGB lies may now endanger his own life as well. The recent cold-blooded assassination of Boris Nemtsov, a leader of Russia’s opposition, shows that the KGB (under whatever name) – which has killed 20 million people within the Soviet Union alone – is still secretly assassinating its enemies.

One of the most important things I have learned in the 64 years I have been involved in the intelligence business – 27 in the Soviet bloc and 37 in the U.S. – is that disinformation is an arcane and duplicitous undertaking, and that in the hands of the Soviets it developed into a whole philosophy. To really understand the mysteries of the Kremlin’s disinformation, it will not help to see a spy movie, read a spy novel, or watch TV news about Russia, as entertaining as those might be. You must have lived in that world of secrecy and deceit, and even then you may not fathom all its darker moments unless you are one of the few at the very top of the pyramid.

At the end of a summit meeting held in Slovenia, President George W. Bush said, “I looked the man [Putin] in the eye [and] found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.” But Robert Gates, who as director of the CIA became familiar with KGB disinformation, looked into Putin’s eyes and saw “a stone-cold killer.” Familiarity with the super-secret, widely unknown Russian “science” of disinformation could indeed change day into night.

Ten years ago, I published “Programmed to Kill: Moscow’s Responsibility for Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.” My book was introduced at an Organization of American Historians conference with a review by professor Stan Weber of McNeese State University, who described it as “a superb new paradigmatic work on the death of President Kennedy and a must read for everyone interested in the assassination.” (Read more from “How the KGB Birthed the JFK Assassination Conspiracy Industry” HERE)

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Saints in Public Feud With Disabled Veteran Over Anthem Protests

The New Orleans Saints are firing back at a retired Navy commander who declined to be honored at their game Sunday because of players protesting during the national anthem, calling his decision “unfortunate and disappointing.”

Retired Navy Cmdr. John Wells, executive director of the Louisiana-based Military Veterans Advocacy, was selected by the Saints to receive its Peoples Health Champion Award for highlighting the “health and well-being of our military, veterans and their families,” according to the team’s statement Thursday.

But Wells told the organization Wednesday not to expect him at the game, since he’s unable “in good conscience” to enter an NFL stadium where some players continue to “disrespect” the American flag by kneeling or sitting before or during the national anthem.

“Although I am touched and honored to be selected for such an award, the ongoing controversy with NFL players’ disrespect for the national flag forces me to decline to participate in the presentation,” Wells said in a statement, according to the Times-Picayune. “Since this award is tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players, I cannot accept it. To do so would be hypocritical.” (Read more from “Saints in Public Feud With Disabled Veteran Over Anthem Protests” HERE)

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Bergdahl Sentence – Obama Is Still Giving the Orders

It was a show trial, but not in the usual meaning of the term. Bowe Bergdahl was never meant to be punished. The trial was all for show.

It was not, however, mismanagement or incompetence, but arguably deliberate.

On the night of June 30, 2009, then Army Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl went missing. On July 2, 2009, the Pentagon said that Bergdahl had walked off his base in eastern Afghanistan with three Afghan counterparts and was believed to have been taken prisoner. Bergdahl’s commanding officers said that a vigorous, but unsuccessful 45-day search for Bergdahl put soldiers in danger. During his nearly five years as a captive of the Taliban, the Army twice promoted, Bergdahl, first to the rank of specialist in June 2010, then to the rank of sergeant in June 2011. On May 31, 2014, Bergdahl was released from captivity in exchange for five senior Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay in a controversial deal negotiated by the Obama Administration.

In June 2014, Major General Kenneth Dahl was assigned to lead the Army’s investigation into the 2009 disappearance and capture of Bergdahl. In August 2014, Dahl interviewed Bergdahl. In December 2014, after a comprehensive legal review, the Dahl investigation was forwarded to a General Courts Martial Convening Authority, Gen. Mark Milley, commanding general of Forces Command.

On March 25, 2015, the Army announced, based on Gen. Milley’s recommendation, that it was charging Bergdahl with misbehavior before the enemy and desertion, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

In April 2015, an Article 32 hearing of the Bergdahl evidence was scheduled for July 8. 2015. An Article 32 hearing is similar to the civilian evidentiary or probable cause hearing to determine, after a criminal complaint has been filed, whether there is enough evidence to require a trial. In June 2015, at the request of the defense, the Article 32 hearing was postponed until September 17, 2015.

According to one report of the September 17th Article 32 hearing, Army prosecutors presented a very weak case in support of the charges against Bergdahl. They chose not to call any of Bergdahl’s enlisted comrades who had a very different impression of his behavior than the one Bergdahl gave to investigators. Prosecutors also did not call any witnesses to support the argument that the Army lost men trying to recover Bergdahl.

Remarkably, the Army allegedly buried recordings of signals surveillance in Afghanistan from July 1-2, 2009, days after his disappearance, where Taliban are talking on Bergdahl’s own phone saying he wanted to join them and other recordings where the Taliban, on their phones, are talking about Bergdahl trying to join them.

In an even more bizarre twist of events, the investigating officer, Maj. Gen. Dahl, appeared as a defense witness, where he provided exculpatory “psychological” evidence, describing Bergdahl as a confused, poorly adjusted idealist who doesn’t deserve further punishment.

The presiding officer of the Article 32 hearing, Lt. Col. Mark Visger reportedly recommended a special court-martial for Bergdahl, rather than a general court-martial, the former being essentially a military version of a misdemeanor court. According to Bergdahl’s lawyer, Eugene Fidell, Lt. Col. Visger called for unusually light penalties, recommending against both a dishonorable discharge and confinement.

The following year, the New York Times reported that the Army’s 22-member investigative team, led by Maj. Gen Dahl, which spent two months interviewing scores of witnesses and compiled the report that formed the initial basis for prosecuting Bergdahl, never proposed that he should be tried on the most serious charges.

To an outside observer, it appeared both the prosecution and defense agreed, early on, that Bergdahl was indeed a confused, poorly adjusted idealist who didn’t deserve further punishment.

It was merely coincidental that President Obama appointed General Milley to be Chief of Staff of the Army and, within two months of the Article 32 hearing, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl was promoted to Lieutenant General.

Future deserters will no doubt take note of how easily Bergdahl’s punishment went from life imprisonment to nothing.

The Bergdahl sentence was clearly an unconscionable travesty of justice and a slap in the face to all those who have honorably worn the uniform.

Yet, even before a trial began, the outcome seemed preordained, an eventual de facto Obama pardon, implemented by an Obama Pentagon. (For more from the author of “Bergdahl Sentence – Obama Is Still Giving the Orders” please click HERE)

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Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of “Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution“. He receives email at [email protected].

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The GOP Income Tax Plan Is Too Clever by Half

Our tax code redistributes wealth, stifles growth, and is too complex. Most importantly, the progressive system is a primary reason why our government is not responsive to we the people — because the leviathan is built upon debt and a relatively small group of truly wealthy taxpaying individuals, thereby empowering the socialists to grow government without much backlash.

The GOP plan for individual tax rates does not fundamentally alter this dynamic, and in fact, it might make the overall income tax pie even more progressive and the code more convoluted.

Moreover, as I’ve noted before, tax policy is not the issue of our time. The domestic issues of our time are health care, regulations, and debt. The only people who pay a significant amount in taxes will not get much of a cut and in some cases will get no cut at all. And those who pay very little, by definition, can’t get much back. Contrast that with the Obamacare cost of an extra ten to fifteen thousand dollars a year for middle-income families not being subsidized, and you will see why it’s dumb for Republicans to write off health care and move on to taxes.

But we already knew that the GOP had no plans to repeal Obamacare or systematically restructure the source of federal taxation. Thus, the ultimate concern was that the new plan would outright raise taxes on a meaningful number of middle- and upper-middle-income Americans. But the tax cuts projected in the plan are insignificant for most people, and many, depending on their state and family size, might see a tax increase.

The details

The main reason the GOP is obsessing about taxes is because of the corporate lobbyist push for a business tax cut. They are certainly right to ask for one, and the clean cut from 35 percent to 20 percent is very pro-growth. Then, because the GOP is incapable of messaging to the American people that corporations are individual jobs and wages, they feel a need to deal with the individual tax code as well. But because cutting individual taxes would necessarily require a tax cut for the rich (those who pay most of the taxes) and the loss of revenue, they went on a wild goose chase to raise some rates while lowering others, cutting some deductions and credits while increasing others. The fact that they refuse to cut spending and are, in fact, increasing spending has boxed them into a corner.

Before getting into the weeds on the individual provisions of the plan, it’s important to note that the Joint Committee on Taxation scored the overall budgetary outcome of the individual tax reforms as $3.3 trillion in new cuts and $3.0 trillion in new tax revenue. The corporate tax cut is a $1.5 trillion cut. By definition, this essentially revenue-neutral cut on the individual side means that some will pay more in taxes, and it will not be those who already barely pay taxes or who make money off the tax code. It is quite evident that those at the bottom will pay even less and that the very wealthy might pay more under this plan, especially with the back-door 46 percent rate on wealthy job creators.

Before conservatives sign off on this plan, at a bare minimum, they must work out on paper that no significant group of people, particularly upper-middle-income families, will see their taxes rise. That is the ultimate act of political malpractice and would make the entire package fall flat.

For the purpose of this analysis, I focus mainly on how the main provisions of the bill affect middle-income and upper-middle-income families who file jointly. Some of the ancillary provisions and the effects on other income levels will be addressed in future columns.

Middle-income and upper-middle-income brackets:

Details: The current seven tax brackets would be consolidated into four brackets: 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent, and 39.6 percent. For married couples, the low 12 percent rate would last all the way until $90,000 of income, the point at which the 25 percent rate would kick in. At present, that rate kicks in at $75,900. Also, under current law, all income from $18,000 to $75,900 is taxed at 15 percent; now it will go down to 12 percent. This, in a vacuum, is a significant tax cut. The 25 percent rate goes all the way through $260,000 of income under the GOP plan, whereas under current law most of that income is taxed at the 28 percent tax bracket. However, at $260,000 is where you get hit with the 35 percent rate, whereas under current law, that high rate doesn’t kick in until $416,000 of income.

Outcome: As you can see, this is a clean tax cut for those earning below $260,000. For those earning between $260,000 and $416,000, which includes a lot of hard-working successful professionals where both spouses have good jobs, this is something of a wash, but for most will still be a cut. However, the steep cliff of paying such a significantly higher rate on increased income is anti-growth. Which is why it’s dumb to collapse rates for the sake of it. Once you agree to the premise of a progressive, graduated income tax, the extra gradations are really necessary.

Standard deduction doubled/personal exemption eliminated:

Details: On the one hand, this bill would double the standard deduction for individuals from $6,350 to $12,700 and for couples from $12,000 to $24,000. On the other hand, it abolishes the personal exemption, which deducts $4,050 per person in the family, including the filer.

Outcome: For individuals, this is a clean tax cut because the $6,350 in increased standard deduction would outweigh the loss of $4,050 personal exemption. And given that most individuals don’t own homes, they are likely not itemizing deductions.

For families, any household with four or more individuals is clearly losing more in the exemption ($4,050 X 4+) than gaining with doubling the standard deduction ($12,000). Plus, most families who own homes itemize their deductions anyway and might still take that route even with the expanded standard deduction. However, coupled with the reduced marginal tax rates and the extra $600 in tax credit for every child (see next point), many, but not all, will still come out on top.

Elimination of state and local income tax (SALT) deduction:

Details: Under current law, individuals below the AMT-threshold income can deduct all state and local income taxes and property taxes from their income for purposes of federal income taxes. This bill would abolish the deduction for income taxes but allow for up to a $10,000 deduction for property taxes. It also limits the mortgage interest deduction to $500,000 worth of mortgage interest on homes purchased after the enactment date, but not on existing mortgages.

Outcome: The deduction for state income and property taxes, in conjunction with the mortgage interest deduction and charitable deduction, is why almost every middle- and upper-middle-income family that owns a home chooses to itemize deductions rather than take the standard deduction of $12,000. Even with the doubling of the standard deduction, most of these families above a certain income level, particularly those who tithe or give large amounts of charity, still deduct over $24,000 in itemization. By getting rid of the state and local deduction, most of those families will be placed into a scenario where it’s no longer worthwhile to itemize. It will de-incentivize charity, in contrast to current law.

Also, the GOP made the worst possible compromise on SALT. State income taxes are universal to almost every taxpayer in most states. That deduction was completely abolished. Yet, not only did they not abolish the real estate tax deduction, they have a cap of $10,000, which only applies to either wealthy homes or very high tax areas. The better compromise would have been to cap all SALT at $10K — no matter the breakdown. This was a handout to the realtors. Many individuals, not just in high tax states, will wind up paying more in taxes, even after the other cuts.

Expanded child tax credit
Details: This bill would expand the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600 per child. It would also raise the income threshold for phasing out this credit. Under current law, married families earning over $110,000 see their credit reduced by $50 per $1,000 of income over that threshold. This bill would dramatically raise that cap, to $230,000.

Outcome: In a vacuum, this is one of the best provisions of the bill. It is pro-family and also rectifies an unfair part of the tax code for upper-middle-income families. Phasing out the credit for those who work hard discourages upward mobility and is fundamentally unfair, especially when lower-income earners, in addition to the other programs, get to enjoy the tax credit to the point where it pays them money when their tax liability is zero (a “refundable” credit). It’s also important to note that the expanded portion of the credit — the extra $600 — is not refundable. A further positive provision is that the bill would require Social Security numbers to receive refundable tax credits, ensuring that most illegal aliens will not benefit from them.

However, the million-dollar question is whether the expanded child tax credit is enough to offset the increases on upper-middle-income families as a result of elimination of deductions and the personal exemption.

Abolishes AMT
The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) would be abolished. For many tax filers, this provision is a wash because the main outcome of the AMT is that it eliminates the personal exemption and credits and deductions. The new bill eliminates the AMT but abolishes those exemptions and deductions for everyone. However, this provision is very positive for those earning enough to be in the AMT but not too much to be locked out of the child tax credit. Thanks to the increase in phase-out amount (see previous point), families earning roughly $180K-$280K will get to receive most or all of the credit, thanks to the increase in threshold, but won’t see it abolished because the AMT is eliminated.

Bottom line: Revenue-neutral tax cut is not worth the political capital it will use

This proposal makes many systemic changes, without resulting in systemic outcome changes and a clear tax cut for everyone. While some will be slightly better off, others will pay slightly more. Using tax software and the expertise of my CPA brother-in-law, I calculated my 2016 tax return and compared it to the proposed changes. The result? I’d actually pay $169 more in taxes. And I’m not an outlying taxpayer. I’m a typical family of five in the 25 percent tax bracket, with a $350,000 home. While Maryland has a high income tax, it’s not among the highest, and my county property taxes are very average. If people like me will not see a tax cut, then many in the breadbasket of the GOP base will not see a tax cut.

Obviously, location and family size will make different stories, but no typical middle-income family (and, I would argue, even upper-income family) should pay more in taxes. That is political malpractice.

The liability of increasing the tax burden of a middle-income family by $500-$1000 per year is much more potent than the political reward for giving people a $500-$1,000 cut.

Additionally, I hope to address in a separate column the provision of this bill that uses the “chained CPI,” a less generous metric, to index income thresholds of the brackets to inflation. Over time, this will blunt some of the benefit of the rate reductions while still retaining the full loss of the deductions.

What Republicans should do instead

To rectify the problems, Republicans should do one or a mixture of the following:

Repeal Obamacare, which is the biggest tax on consumers, and replace it with free-market health care, which would represent the biggest spending cut of all policies. This will free up revenue for a real tax cut.

Focus for the next year on cutting other spending and cutting regulations, and save tax cuts for later.

Write a more systemic reform of the code, or abolish withholdings and require that everyone either write a check or receive a payment on April 15. That way everyone will know who actually pays taxes and how much they pay.

For now, stick with only the corporate tax cut and properly message it to the American people.

Repeat the Bush tax cuts — a clean, across-the-board slashing of rates along with the child tax cut expansion and increase in phase-out for upper-middle-income families. This will ensure that everyone gets a tax cut and that there are no political problems that embarrass us with our own voters.

In other words, either cut spending, create a real tax cut, or preferably both. But to keep spending high and box themselves into a revenue-neutral tax cut will result in the worst political and policy outcomes imaginable.

Republicans were created to cut taxes. They clearly don’t do anything else well in fiscal, social, and national security policy. Come on, Republicans, at least pretend: You have one job. (For more from the author of “The GOP Income Tax Plan Is Too Clever by Half” please click HERE)

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Kevin Spacey’s Abuse of Male Minor Exposes Link Between Homosexuality and Pedophilia

Responding to an accusation of attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy, actor Kevin Spacey defended himself by claiming to be homosexual . . .

Whether Spacey intended it or not, the statement goes from him trying to excuse imposing himself sexually on a minor while possibly drunk to suggesting that his actions may have something to do with him being homosexual . . .

But pro-family leaders say that homosexuality and pederasty are linked together far more than homosexual activists are willing to admit in public.

“How interesting that Kevin Spacey played the ‘gay card’ in an attempt to win sympathy after evidence of his attempted molestation of a Hollywood boy-actor came out,” Americans for Truth’s Peter LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews.

“We know that there is a long history of pedophilia tied to the homosexual movement,” LaBarbera asserted. “We also know that many prominent ‘gay’ men like CNN’s Don Lemon were victimized by older male sexual predators when they were boys.” (Read more from “Kevin Spacey’s Abuse of Male Minor Exposes Link Between Homosexuality and Pedophilia” HERE)

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