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“All Hands On Deck!”: A Trump Presidency Would Sink All Boats

Hello, investors. Come join the foreign policy experts in daily panic attacks over what a President Donald Trump would mean for your world. What does one do about a candidate whose tax plan would send America into the fiscal abyss — who flaps lips about not making good on the national debt?

Should we be investing in the makers of Xanax and Klonopin? And on the personal side, are there enough benzodiazepines to go around?

We’re not talking just about the very rich. Anyone with a retirement account or a small portfolio has something to lose. The economic consensus is that a Trump presidency would sink all boats. And that certainly applies to Trump’s own economically struggling followers in the least seaworthy craft.

“Most Rust Belt working-class Americans don’t get it,” Bob Deitrick, CEO of Polaris Financial Partners in Westerville, Ohio, told me. “The working class thinks he’s going to stick it to the elites.”

The facts: The Trump tax plan would deliver an average tax cut of $1.3 million to those with annual incomes exceeding $3.7 million. The lowest-income households would get $128. (No missing zeros here.)

Folks in the middle would see federal taxes reduced by about $2,700, which sounds nice but would come out of their own hide. Medicare and other programs that benefit the middle class would have to be slashed. So would spending on science research, infrastructure and services essential to the U.S. economy.

Or we could skip the very deep spending cuts and see the national debt balloon by nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product, calculation courtesy of the Tax Policy Center.

Some might think that Trump’s tax plan — including the repeal of the federal tax on estates bigger than $5.43 million — would impress the income elite, but they would be wrong. In a recent poll of Fortune 500 executives, 58 percent of the respondents said they would support Hillary Clinton over Trump.

Most in this Republican-leaning group are undoubtedly asking themselves: What good is a fur-lined deck chair if the ship’s going down?

Then there are the others.

“Do middle-class Americans have any idea what could happen to the economy or the stock market if our president ever vaguely suggested defaulting on the national debt?” Deitrick asked. (His clients tend to be upper-middle-class investors.)

He recalls the summer of 2011, when a congressional game of chicken over raising the federal debt ceiling led to the possibility of a default. The Dow lost 2,400 points in a single week. And taxpayers were hit with $1.3 billion in higher borrowing costs that year alone.

Trump said on CNN that he is the “king of debt,” which in practice means he frequently doesn’t honor it. That’s why many major lenders shun him, talking of “Donald risk.”

Speaking of, Trump famously said in a Trump University interview, “I sort of hope (the real estate market crashes), because then people like me would go in and buy.”

But he also predicted that the real estate market would not tank — shortly before it did. Perhaps he never figured out there was a housing bubble. Or it was part of a clever scheme to peddle real estate courses with brochures asking, “How would you like to market-proof your financial future?”

Imagine a whole country taking on “Donald risk.”

The business community runs on stability. It can’t prosper under a showman who says crazy things and denies having said them moments later. A Trump presidency promises more chaos than a Marx Brothers movie — and you can believe it would be a lot less fun.


By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, June 7, 2016

June 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Economic Policy, Economy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Evasiveness And Apparent Misstatements”: Rubio’s Controversial Finances Keep Getting Messier

The most damaging political controversies tend to be the easiest to understand. To this extent, Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) current flap has the potential to do some harm: in the broadest sense, it’s a story of a presidential candidate who’s made a mess of his personal finances and who’s made claims about the controversy that don’t appear to be true.

Rubio’s rivals are likely to present a question the typical voter will probably find pretty straightforward: should a politician who’s struggled to responsibly oversee his own finances be trusted to help oversee the entire country’s finances?

It’s the details, however, that get a little more complex. The New York Times reported this morning:

A decade after he began using a Republican Party credit card for personal purchases like paving stones at his home, Senator Marco Rubio on Wednesday pledged to disclose new spending records from that account as he sought to inoculate himself against what could be his biggest liability as a presidential candidate: how he manages his finances.

The decision to release the records highlights the enduring potency of a controversy rooted in Mr. Rubio’s days as a young state representative in Florida that he and his aides thought had been put to rest with his 2010 election to the Senate.

I’m not sure I’d characterize this as Rubio’s “biggest liability” – his bizarre mishandling of the immigration issue strikes me as more important – but as Republican primary voters weigh their 2016 choices, the senator’s difficulties in managing his own money probably won’t do his candidacy any favors.

The basic outline is made up of a few embarrassing elements. During his time as a Florida legislator, for example, Rubio occasionally mixed personal and business expenses, including using party money to repair his minivan, and charging $10,000 to attend a family reunion, which is legally questionable, before eventually paying the money back. He also co-owned property with a scandal-plagued colleague, failed to detail the mortgage on financial disclosure forms, and then faced foreclosure.

There’s also the odd liquidation of Rubio’s retirement account – even after the senator received a seven-figure book deal – and the fact that he took on more than $900,000 in debt when his net worth was about $8,300.

But it’s Rubio’s evasiveness and apparent misstatements that arguably matter just as much.

For example, Rubio has acknowledged improperly using a Republican Party credit card for personal use, but at least so far, he’s “refused to provide credit card statements from 2005 and 2006.”

The GOP senator said yesterday he intends to release the records “in the next few weeks.” Why it’s taken so long to prepare the records – materials Florida journalists have sought for years – is unclear.

Rubio has acknowledged “a lack of bookkeeping skills,” which may or may not bother voters. But there’s the related question of whether he’s been fully forthcoming about his messy finances.

For example, Rubio said yesterday that he went through his charges “every month” and reimbursed the personal expenses initially paid for with party money. However, the Tampa Bay Times reported, “Records show Rubio sent payments to American Express totaling $13,900 for his personal expenses during his tenure as House speaker. But those payments were not made monthly. He made no contributions to the bill during one six-month stretch in 2007, the records show.”

Rubio also said yesterday, “[E]very expense on that card is detailed in the Republican Party accounts that they file every month with, reports that they have to file with the state.” But this doesn’t appear to be quite right, since there are still two years of undisclosed charges.

Rubio claimed two weeks ago that all of these line of inquiry have been “discredited.” But we know this isn’t true – all of these questions point to evidence that hasn’t been refuted. Indeed, let’s not forget that while a state ethics commission did not pursue the matter against Rubio, a commission investigator accused Rubio of “negligence” on the credit card issue, adding that his failures were “disturbing.”

As a general defense, the presidential candidate said yesterday, “[The] bottom line is I obviously don’t come from a wealthy family.” That’s true, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant. The typical American doesn’t come from wealth, either, but they don’t routinely find themselves in the kind of messy situation Rubio created.

Put it this way: if Hillary Clinton’s finances were this messy, some of her documents went undisclosed for years, and some of her claims appeared dubious under scrutiny, isn’t it fair to say it’d be the biggest political story in the country?


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 5, 2015

November 6, 2015 Posted by | GOP Voters, Marco Rubio, Republicans | , , , , | Leave a comment


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