Category Archives: Trump

Kim and Trump: It Finally all Makes Sense

Trump cancels US participation in the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), against international law. This leads now to the (legal under the terms of the multilateral agreement) increase by the Iranian government (under pressure from the right-wing “Principalists” in its parliament) in the number of centrifuges it is deploying to enrich uranium. It is thus shortening the breakout time for acquiring a nuclear device.

Trump then makes a wild and vague deal with a like-minded dictator (Kim), which although historic and signed, is a threadbare rehash of previous agreements signed with North Korea in the 1994 and 2005.

So is the problem that North Korea actually has nukes and Iran doesn’t (yet)? Is the lesson that to impress the Americans you have to have nukes? Iran is going to attacked because it doesn’t have a deterrent? Maybe, but this is isn’t the essence of the problem. There is no plan to take on Iran militarily and actually never has been. Gareth Porter in Manufactured Crisis has shown that even Netanhayu was always bluffing about attacking Iran (it was all about bluff and counter-bluff on both sides), and Trump is certainly not going to want to put troops on the ground to fight Iran.

Both he and the Pentagon (although perhaps not his mentally disturbed National Security Adviser) understand the failure in Iraq, while Iran, on the other hand, has always been a much bigger fish.  Paul Jay sets out the case for “Trump the Peacemaker” being cover for preparing  war against Iran. Given Trump’s disconnected and impetuous policy-making this seems unlikely. One has to note that Iran is much more powerful (and its national security establishment – the IRGC- much more experienced) even than it was in 2003, while the US is beset with problems with all its allies across the world: problems of Trump’s own making. This is hardly an environment in which the US could plan a major military offensive against such an asymmetrically powerful nation.

Using its vast conventional missile capability Iran could easily destroy the Saudi Arabian Gawar oilfield (the planet’s largest single field), as well as Tel Aviv (either from Lebanon or even from Iran), irrespective of US patriot missiles protecting them (Russia has shown the limited capability of this kind of defence to concerted attacks). It could also block the Persian Gulf for traffic, especially the Straights of Hormuz, by sinking the US 6th Fleet, deploying and using SS-N-27A “Sizzler” missiles (ground to sea missiles that accelerate to twice the speed of sound, 2 km before their target, flying only feet above sea level). The US admits it has no defence for this capability. Iran acquired the technology from China, and all of China, Russia and India, as well as Iran possess them.

Such missiles are almost as strategically important as nuclear weapons, when a narrow objective like the straights of Hormuz is to be destroyed/blocked, while sizzler missiles are much more likely to be used in conflict than nuclear weapons, even if you possessed the latter.

In addition, as far as Trump’s own attitude to the region is concerned, we have to take into account the fact that he is pressuring the Pentagon on pulling out of Syria (which is why the Turks are now getting their way about the alliance between the US and the Kurds in Northern Syria, against the objections of CENTOM Chief Gen. Vogel). This goes against the views of his mentally disturbed National Security Adviser, whom Trump only hired in order to get a massive (2020) campaign donation from Rebecca Mercer. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Pompeo follows the President’s line and doesn’t deviate, taking on the Pentagon’s middle management, especially Joseph Votel on this matter. Votel doesn’t want to cooperate with the Turks after Erdoğan’s ejection of his allies and contacts within the Turkish army after the failure of their attempted coup in 2016.

Trump has no policy other than self-aggrandisement and getting re-elected. His Jerusalem move and cynical stroking of the Wailing Wall is all about campaign contributions and domestic political support. He did a lot for his base of religious nuts already with the Jerusalem decision, he doesn’t have to do more, no-one in the US political scene can now outflank him on the Zionist front. He isn’t going to risk all that by going to war in the exceptionally dangerous and ropey situation the US is in right now, against Iran.

So, on a lighter note, is the nub of the matter as to why cancel the JCPOA and then do a deal with Kim simply that he is an unaccountable dictator, whereas Iran is a complicated polity, with a parliament and an ideology that makes no sense to someone like him? Yes, but you have to understand the detail. A Tweet by Trump suddenly revealed all according to the BuzzFeed UK editor:

As Trump said in his Singapore press conference, these guys (meaning Kim and Co.) own all the real estate between China and South Korea – … can’t be bad, can it? If he had one iota of strategic sense though, he would have realised that in signing such a vague deal without easing sanctions, which was Kim’s main aim in the whole peace process, he has opened up the golden opportunity for China to do just that, and for Kim to launch (largely with Chinese and South Korean help) his own personal chain of hotels along the country’s beaches. Eat your heart out Donald…

Iran wakes up to new choices: Pompeo’s bark aimed at whom?

Trump’s words upon pulling out of the JCPOA Iran deal were ‘that’s life’, the ‘Iranians have to learn what life’s about’, suggests a strongarm negotiating tactic. That this may be a reflection of a generalised Trump modus operandi is suggested by the fact that the Trump summit with Kim Jong-un is having its pre-conditions mollified. This is down to strong South Korean diplomatic intervention, which is establishing an important premise for the negotiations, namely that denuclearisation must inevitably be a gradual and scaled process. Imperiousness has given way to diplomacy.

But then came Pompeo’s bark at the Heritage Foundation, which talked about the ‘strongest sanctions in history’. Is that a continuation of the Trump ‘art of the deal’? The answer to that lies in establishing who Pompeo was barking at. It is most likely that it was a response to Europe’s knee-jerk rejection of Trump’s decision, and its disinterment of old laws intended to protect European companies from foreign (in this case US) sanctions. So it wasn’t really addressed to the Iranian people. By knobbling the Europeans, the White House expects to be able to achieve its end of suffocating Iran.

Iran isn’t North Korea though, and it doesn’t have a powerful US ally with a vested interest in the outcome (South Korea) intervening actively on its behalf to achieve peace. It does have many nations, however, that are adversaries of the US – China and Russia – that see Iran’s survival as important for their own independence and the success of their long-term projects. One US ally – Turkey – although this alliance is clearly ambivalent – is always to willing to brave US sanctions and take the consequences on the chin, for the same reasons. Despite the bible thumping, war-drum beating proclivities of the current White House, it is unlikely to take the US to fully-fledged war in the Middle East. It isn’t in Pompeo’s interests, nor in Trump’s, nor would the Pentagon be enthusiastic, nor would Europe (across-the-board) provide the fig leaf of legitimacy that Bush acquired through Blair.

This doesn’t mean it won’t give Israel the backing and wherewithal to do what it wants in the Middle-East. But then, for years, Israel has been threatening to bomb Iran, and hasn’t done so yet, for many reasons that have been most eloquently spelled out in Gareth Porter’s book ‘Manufactured Crisis’ . Porter’s thesis that Netanhayu is a paper tiger, is borne out by Hassan Nasralla’s sober description of the essentially empty recent retaliation that was Lieberman’s ‘we have wiped-out Iran’s military capacity in Syria’, the background to which events has been summarised by Paul Rogers.

The judgement that Iranians are split over how to respond to Trump’s position and Pompeo’s bark, is a false description of the choice facing Iran. The Korean situation doesn’t involve any of the deep ideological bitterness between the people of the Middle-East and Israel/US, and none of the legacy of many recent wars and interventions there. Korea is an old war frozen in time. The choice Iran faces is between simply riding out the Trump administration(s) without changing anything, on the one hand, and actually making a nuclear bomb, on the other. Likely they will opt for the former, and seek to develop Iran economically with out the West. So just as nothing will change from the Israeli side, nothing will change from the Iranian side.

What will happen now is that the Iranian economy will merge deeper into the Chinese and Russian projects, which will help those countries widen their markets, and develop new products (commercial airliners, electronics, oil field services) that Iran needs and which those countries have been working on developing for years. With each passing day, trade between non-Western countries increases and as of 2009, has crossed the 50% mark in terms of the value of global trade.

 

Der Spiegel Editorial: Time for Europe to Join the Resistance

Edel Rodriguez designs the latest cover for Der Spiegel after Trump’s Iran decision. The magazine editorial runs as follows:

Trump’s renown is rooted in American hero myths. Trump says that women like Carla Bruni lust after him, something that women like Carla Bruni vehemently deny. Trump says he is exorbitantly rich, yet Trump ran himself into the ground with his casinos to the point that he was 295 million dollars in debt in 1990. He was bailed out by the banks and by his father. The greatest myth, though, has to do with Trump’s alleged negotiating expertise. This too is nonsense. Trump was never proficient in the art of the deal. As a businessman, he paid far too much for substandard properties and has shown no patience as a politician. He isn’t curious. His preparation is nonexistent. Strategy and tactics are both foreign to him. Trump is only proficient in destruction. And that’s what he does.

Read the rest here

After the destructive decision on the Iran Deal, will Trump’s hawkish team lead us inevitably to war?

Trump’s legacy will resemble a pile of rubble. There is no planning context to any of his negative actions, and so far there have been no positive legislative or executive actions or any kind. His tax cut was, after a tax cut, with little in terms of constructive thought about what it was for or what came with it, apart from the tired “trickle down” arguments.

It’s all been about obsessively taking down his predecessor’s legacy. This is so obsessive and all-consuming, it seems to be about the dregs of a slaver culture embodied in the man Trump, instinctively determined to eradicate all traces of black American endeavour. It is so instinctual and unreasoned that the destructiveness is almost childish. It is so dominant in the overall character of his presidency so far that, taken together with his early wish for rapprochement with Russia, and his general statements about the waste of money and time in making war in the Middle-East, it can be said that is not in any way linked to any wish to lead America to war.

If this turns out to be right, it would be ironic, because his bête noire – Obama – Nobel Peace laureate – was indeed a war president. However, Trump’s appointments of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo might appear, given their well-known hawkishness and their hate of Iran, to dictate a path to war. But while John Bolton may want to direct the president in that direction, so far this president has shown a very high propensity for not wanting to be directed, and firing anybody who tries. And while Mike Pompeo may be hawkish, he is, unlike either Bolton or Trump, keen on “consequences” and “what happens after”.

Thomas Wright writes in Politico about how Bolton and Pompeo are incompatible and how Pompeo’s aspirations make him a more cautious character than Bolton. He is politically a natural ally of Mattis, who strongly advised against destroying the Iran nuclear deal.  Mattis doesn’t like Bolton, although he admires Pompeo.  The alliance that looks like forming between the Pentagon and the State Department  that will serve the incumbents’ individual interests, besides Trump’s natural disinterest in actually starting wars, makes war unlikely. Furthermore Bolton’s role, it has to be emphasised, is advisory not executive.

By the looks of things, the (unintended) “consequences” of destroying the Iran nuclear deal that Pompeo will have his hands full dealing with, will have less to do with war in the Middle East, than with the ensuing  (major) rift with Europe, which is suffering economically and is growing tired of the wrecking-ball that is America. As far as actually engaging Iran militarily, the same reason still stands that led US military chiefs to avoid war with Iran in the past decade: they would lose. Another defeat would weaken the US global position even more catastrophically than the defeat of its professional army at the hands of a lightly-armed rebel insurgency in Iraq. Its withdrawal, after Petraeus’ massive payoff to the Sunni tribes was ignominious. The outcome of a war with Iran would be much worse, for the US and the world.

How the Trump tax cut is going to cannibalise itself

As the Fed is slows US Treasury bond purchases, and doggedly pursues its policy of tapering, thus driving up interest rates, 58% of Treasury securities held by the public will be maturing over the next four years.

This means that the US Treasury will be rolling over a huge amount of debt into a higher-interest rate environment. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury Note has moved from a yield of 2.06% (November 9, 2016) to over 3% now.

Mortgage rates correlate to the 10-year Treasury and they have moved up significantly since last September, causing a slowdown in home sales with knock on effects on consumer spending on durable goods. This will impact Treasury revenues.

Meanwhile, Trump’s trade war with China will at least put a dampener on East Asiatic demand for Treasuries for the foreseeable future, and there will be little promise of respite from those quarters for Treasury securities markets, ensuring upward pressures on rates and yields.

All this has to be understood in the context of what the May 3, 2017 General Accountability Office (GAO) report on the U.S. government’s fiscal outlook said about the impact of interest rates on the Federal Budget:

“While health care spending is a key programmatic and policy driver of the long-term outlook on the spending side of the budget, eventually, spending on net interest becomes the largest category of spending in both the 2016 Financial Report’s long-term fiscal projections and GAO’s simulations.”

While it has been clear since 2011 that the Fed has been aiming at a programme of tapering its quantitative easing programme and reversing it in order to “normalise” its balance sheet, the Trump tax plan itself will make it impossible for the Fed to respond counter-cyclically  to worsening economic performance, in view of the historically unprecedented fiscal deficits that will result from this plan.

The irony of this situation is that the Trump tax plan was in part intended to disguise and offset the effects of Fed tightening. But it clear from the above that it will consume itself. It is remarkable that the US Treasury, unlike Trump officials and GOP luminaries, stayed silent on this policy, unwilling to issue any reports or statements whatsoever on one of the biggest tax giveaways in history.

The joke continues to be on the average American citizen.

Nearing the last stage of the Trump Presidency?

Adam Davidson writes: This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth. I know dozens of reporters and other investigators who have studied Donald Trump and his business and political ties. Some have been skeptical of the idea that President Trump himself knowingly colluded with Russian officials. It seems not at all Trumpian to participate in a complex plan with a long-term, uncertain payoff. Collusion is an imprecise word, but it does seem close to certain that his son Donald, Jr., and several people who worked for him colluded with people close to the Kremlin; it is up to prosecutors and then the courts to figure out if this was illegal or merely deceitful. We may have a hard time finding out what President Trump himself knew and approved.

Read full article

Bible thumping Trump cabinet, with foaming-at-the-mouth “spiritual” leader

Eli Clifton writes: An examination by LobeLog of statements and studies by Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo’s “spiritual adviser” reveals a deeply ingrained anti-Muslim theology coupled with a conviction that U.S. military engagement overseas is justified by nothing less than the Bible itself.

Ralph Drollinger, a 7’1” former professional basketball player who established Capitol Ministries in 1997, has drawn attention for his role as the organizer of a weekly prayer group in the White House. Attendees include Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, and cabinet secretaries Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Rick Perry, Sonny Perdue, and Jeff Sessions. But Pompeo’s association with the preacher goes back to at least October 2012, when his name was first listed as a sponsor of Drollinger’s weekly congressional Bible study group while the future CIA director was still a freshman congressman.

Drollinger’s White House followers are perhaps the most reactionary members of an increasingly rightwing administration. In an October 2017 interview with the German daily Welt am Sonntag, Drollinger, among other assertions, characterized the U.S. government as “an avenger of wrath,” hailed Trump as “an adjudicator of wrongdoing,” and claimed that women shouldn’t teach grown men.

Pompeo’s nomination to succeed the hapless Rex Tillerson is already under scrutiny for a variety of reasons, including his well-established hawkishness, his own history of anti-Muslim rhetoric, and his eagerness to take policy positions, even publicly, despite his position as head of the CIA. A number of Democratic senators and as well as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have said they will oppose his nomination, and the Trump administration may find itself in a major confirmation battle next month.

His apparent affinity for Drollinger and his worldview are unlikely to make matters easier.

A Shared Islamophobia

Many of Drollinger’s Bible studies are posted on Capitol Ministries’s website, and his anti-Muslim perspective is sprinkled regularly into fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity.

In a March 2014 bible study, listing Pompeo as a cosponsor on the sidebar, Drollinger offered his own summary of Islam. He wrote:

This religion is based in part on plagiarisms from the Old Testament – plagiarisms that amount for much of the content of the Koran. To quickly illustrate this, note that in the Koran’s paraphrase and plagiarism of Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image” (a direct early OT reference to the Trinity) that Muslim scholars have no response to this and many other plagiary-related issues. In this instance, Muslims deny the Trinitarian nature of God, so they should have omitted borrowing this passage! This religion has historically spread through the sword and seeks nothing less than world conquest for Allah. Allah was the moon-god worshipped in the Middle Eastern part of the world long before Mohammed came on the scene to found his religion (hundreds of years after the life of Christ). Salvation per Islamic theology is not attained via a loving, self-sacrificing act of God (as per Christianity); it is attained by jihad, a sacrifice of self in combatting the infidels. Whereas in biblical Christianity, God gives His life for man, in Islam, man must give his life for his god.

According to a June 2014 bible study on “The Bible as an Aid to TST – Terrorist Sensitivity Training,”

NOT EVERY MUSLIM IS A TERRORIST BUT EVERY INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST IN RECENT HISTORY HAS BEEN A MUSLIM…

IS IT NOT DETESTABLE THAT THE ISLAMIC CLERGY FAIL TO CONDEMN THE EVIL THEIR FELLOW MUSLIMS DO IN THE NAME OF ISLAM?

 

Together, these insights serve to inform the world about the Islamic religion itself! And any serious and objective student of the Koran understands this: The book instructs its adherents to advance Islam by the sword. This is not in question.

That perspective closely mirrors controversial statements made by Pompeo a year earlier in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing when he inaccurately accused Muslim religious leaders of being “silent” in the aftermath of the attack and “potentially complicit.”

A 2013 Capitol Ministries study attributed theological differences to the reason the U.S. economy outpaced Buddhist and Muslim-majority countries. “The reason for this momentous growth is Christianity,” according to Drollinger.

Unlike other religions, Christianity combines rational thinking and human dignity. Hinduism teaches its adherents to empty their minds of rational thought. Islam on the other hand, rejects God’s incarnation through Christ, depriving its adherents of a role model of God’s characteristic humaneness. [editor’s note: One wonders what he thinks about Judaism.]

He later observed:

Hindu countries have been stymied in historic poverty. And no one needs to read a book to understand the lack of human dignity rooted in the culture of Islam. As a result, Muslim economies are largely built on western developed oil exportation.

Drollinger also compared Islam to communism in the March 2014 bible study: “Today Communism, in its atheistic political ideology is another such illustration; it persecutes the Church wherever it goes, as do Islamic ideologues as they expand their religiously exclusive political ideology.”

And according to a 2011 bible study,

Christianity places a high value on women (cf. Gal. 3:28). The husband therefore is to honor his wife, not diminish her, if he is to be effective in prayer (contr: male-chauvinistic Islam, wherein males “pray” numerous times per day). One’s attitude toward their mate, the Bible says, directly relates to their power in prayer.

A Shared Iranophobia

The June 2014 study went on to link this view of Islam to Iranian uranium enrichment:

Workers of iniquity know nothing of the just war theory; their very form of combat, rooted in the cowardly exploitation of innocent blood via surprise attacks bespeaks of their evil nature. Given this history of Islamist terrorism, especially their use of explosives to kill and injure innocent civilians, it follows that there is no way America or Israel should tolerate uranium enrichment programs in any theocratic Muslim country Given. God’s counsel via the clear principled instruction of Proverbs, specifically that evil men do not understand justice.

 

IT IS SHEER LUNACY FOR AMERICA TO PERMIT IRAN TO GO AS FAR AS THEY HAVE IN THEIR NUCLEAR PROGRAM!

Pompeo apparently shared Drollinger’s hawkish view. At the same time, he suggested that taking military action against Iran was preferable to negotiations, noting that, “…[I]t is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity. This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.” Just before his formal nomination as CIA director, he tweeted, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”

A Question of Alignment

Pompeo’s decision to align himself with Drollinger shortly after his election to the House of Representatives in 2010 indicates that the Trump administration’s choice for the nation’s top diplomat might embrace, if not actively practice, a radical view of Christianity that has little or no respect for other faiths, particularly Islam and its 1.8 billion adherents.

For his part, Drollinger has never shied away from advancing his own view of Washington’s role in the world. According to a 2015 “Members Bible Study” on “The ISIS Threat” that listed Pompeo as a sponsor,

There can be no doubt that America’s presence throughout the world—its just, historic presence outside its own boundaries—be it as a member of NATO, signing the Monroe Doctrine, defense treaties with Taiwan and Israel, or its willing and welcomed presence to support military bases in the Philippines, Germany, Korea and Japan, have all greatly aided in peacemaking and peacekeeping throughout the world. This is the fruit of biblically justified intervention! When America is strong, and the threat of her intervening is ever-present the world is a much safer place. And the opposite is now increasingly apparent: When American intervention is of a lesser possibility, unrest and evil aggression rise.

Drollinger’s Capitol Ministries is hardly an upstart or small operation. Its website says, “Capitol Ministries plants and develops biblical ministries of evangelism and discipleship to Public Servants,” and boasts of “200 ministries in 200 countries,” “10,000 ministries in 33,000 cities,” “50 ministries in 50 states,” and “3 ministries in 3 branches.” The group’s strategy: “to reach Public Servants for Christ at every stop along their career paths, beginning with their first local elected or appointed positions and following as they ascend to higher office.” Read original article

Trump just gave a massive gift to Iran: the Arab autocrats should fear their street

 

Until now Iran had lost its credibility on the Arab Street, because of its rescue of the Assad regime. All will now be forgiven as the penny drops. The Iranians were perhaps right to support Bashar, despite his despicable character and his Neanderthal régime.

Trump’s move is -woefully, blatantly – in contempt of international law and UNSC resolutions, which the UNSC itself didn’t fail to point out to its US representative. The US has lost it’s position as a fair arbiter in the Middle East process – some say it has finally shown its hand – and now its international reputation is as sullied as Israel’s.

Liberal Jewish groups in the US see this danger clearly. The Union of Reform Judaism stated: ‘… any relocation of the American Embassy to West Jerusalem should be done in the broader context reflecting Jerusalem’s status as a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike…the White House should not undermine these efforts by making unilateral decisions that are all but certain to exacerbate the conflict.’

J- Street released a statement saying that a Palestinian capital must also be established in the East Jerusalem: ‘… the effect of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or of declaring that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital prior to a negotiated agreement will be to anger key Arab allies, foment regional instability and undermine nascent US diplomatic efforts to resolve the larger conflict.’

New Israel Fund also criticized the decision in a statement: ‘President Trump many not understand what’s at stake here, but we do. Moving the embassy risks igniting the tinderbox of anger, frustration and hopelessness that already exists in Jerusalem. Throwing…balance off with this unilateral gesture could have grave consequences.’

The US has either been sowing discord or waging war directly in the Middle East for 35 years. So far Iran won the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, the 2003-9 Iraq war, and the 2011-7 Syrian war. Let’s see what happens in the next war. Ali Abdulla al-Saleh supporter and funder of violence and militancy across the board is dead. Yemen is open. What will the Arab autocrats, who are the allies of the US, do apart from buy paintings by Leonardo for $450m, and yachts for $500m, all the while mistreating former Gulf allies?

Saudi Arabia’s formal statement denouncing the Trump decision belies their co-operation with him over this new roughing-up of the Palestinians. It smells of fear and double-dealing. The news from Jerusalem is being “managed” by Saudi authorities.

Hopefully, the liberal voices in America above will help undo Trump’s idiocy and the influence of the Christian right on US Middle East policy. Turkey’s efforts to create international consensus against this move will definitely help to keep the pressure on. Erdoğan calling the OIC to a conference on the matter of Jerusalem is a symbolic move, although welcome of course. What people don’t recognise, on the other hand, is the crucial importance of Turkey’s position as the energy transit hub for Mediterranean gas, offering the cheapest route to Europe, which Israel is banking on for its future.

Certainly Abbas has kicked the so-called peace process into the long grass. He doesn’t look too phased by the events and Mike Pence will be disappointed if he thinks he can restart peace talks on his visit to Israel next month.

Although the Palestinian Authority has continually disappointed in the prime task of keeping the Palestinians united and resisting pressure, Abbas has shown more mettle recently in taking Israel to the ICC.

 

Trickle-down economics and the Trump tax cut: people don’t get the joke

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell sells the lie that the Trump tax cut is going to be good for small business.

When U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke about the Trump administration’s tax plan at the Institute of International Finance, he said the plan would pay for itself without adding to the national debt. This, he said, would be based on what he called “dynamic scoring”. His projections showed ‘a $2 trillion increase in revenues over a 10-year period. So the plan will pay for itself with growth.’

But the tax plan that has just passed Congress and the Senate, in two different forms which are somehow to be merged, shows without all the “dynamic scoring” a $1.5 trillion extra deficit, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).

In the past fiscal year, the U.S. deficit was $666 billion. That follows deficits of $585 billion in 2016, $438 billion in 2015, $485 billion in 2014, $679 billion in 2013 and more than $1 trillion in deficits in each year from 2009 through 2012, despite extraordinary efforts to stimulate the economy following the 2008 Wall Street financial collapse.

The JCT study found the Trump tax cut would only return  $458 billion of the $1.5 trillion cost over the 10 year period. Meanwhile, as Senator Elizabeth Warren noted in a letter to the Inspector General of the Treasury Department, there is no study whatsoever coming out of the US Treasury on the subject.

Mnuchin’s “Goldman Sachs bluster” with the hackneyed trickle-down metaphors being trumpeted (excuse the pun) all over the media, is intentionally deceptive.

As Professor Ha-Joon Chang at Cambridge University tells us, “trickle down” – the theory that making a few rich creates wealth across the board for everybody – is a totally broken theory.  See him in the short clip below.

Mnuchin’s deception is not limited to this. The bill he has rammed through Congress and the Senate, which Republicans jumped at and turned into law in record time because they are worried about their chances in the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections, is actually a massive $6 trillion tax-cut over the coming decade, funded by tax rises which will destroy local economies across the US.

The tax-cut raises $4.5 trillion in taxes on ordinary people, so that the rich can get the $6 trillion, which is the actual full amount of the scam for the corporations and the 1%: a historic number that would have made both Reagan and Bush cringe.

The Tax Policy Center estimated that about 80 percent of the benefit of the tax plan will go to the top 1 percent, with $1.5 trillion going to slash the corporate tax rate, $700bn going to cancel the ‘alternative minimum tax’, paid almost exclusively by the rich, and $150 billion going to repealing the estate tax, which currently exempts the first $11 million of the deceased’s estate, so nobody even remotely middle class pays it.

Furthermore, more than $200 billion in cuts goes to a provision that allows a greater deduction for dividends on foreign earnings, and $600 billion goes to reducing taxes on “pass-throughs” and other businesses not set up as corporations -such as law firms, lobby shops, and doctors’ surgeries.

If some $200bn will be going to allow higher income bands to claim tax credits, whilst individual and family tax rates are cut by about $1 trillion, these are the only elements in the package likely to filter through to the middle classes. As the New York Times noted, by 2027, people making between $40,000 and $50,000 would see a combined increase of $5.3 billion in taxes, whilst, on the other hand, people earning more than $1 million would see their taxes collectively cut by $5.8 billion a year.

The tax rises made to underwrite the $6 trillion giveaway

(1) The tax rises include some $300 billion allowances for companies with offshore profits to repatriate them at a lower rate. Although that cash goes straight to dividends for shareholders and stock buybacks, it gets counted as a tax increase.

(2) Unbelievably $1.6 trillion is raised by repealing the personal exemption everybody gets on their tax returns.

(3) Another $1.3 trillion is raised by going after deductions for state and local taxes, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, interest on student loans, medical expenses, teachers’ out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. for paper and pencils for students). This will devastate local economies.

(4) The new law gradually raises $128 billion in (stealth) taxes by changing the way inflation is calculated, so that your taxes slowly creep up over the years as the brackets come down.

(5) Finally, the law adds about $1.5 trillion to the already eyewatering debt over the next 10 years, and the interest payments that will entail.

The joke: what comedian Will Rogers meant by “trickle-down” during the Great Depression

In 1932, Will Rogers comments on Hoover’s defeat at the hand of Roosevelt:

“The Republicans didn’t start thinking of the old common fellow till just as they started out on the election tour. The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickles down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the driest little spot. But he didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellows hands. They saved the big banks, but the little ones went up the flue.”

Will Rogers was just telling us what Ha-Joon Chang is saying today.

Background to the Gulf rift: Trump real estate deals

Ben Walsh, Ryan Grim, Clayton Swisher at the Intercept write: Not long before  a major crisis ripped through the Middle East, pitting the United States and a bloc of Gulf countries against Qatar, Jared Kushner’s real estate company had unsuccessfully sought a critical half-billion-dollar investment from one of the richest and most influential men in the tiny nation, according to three well-placed sources with knowledge of the near transaction.

Kushner is a senior adviser to President Trump, and also his son-in-law, and also the scion of a New York real estate empire that faces an extreme risk from an investment made by Kushner in the building at 666 Fifth Avenue, where the family is now severely underwater. Read full article here.