Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 2nd, 2017

Trump touts study that says immigrants could actually save taxpayer dollars

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Almost as good as the android phone fake news, but real. Max Ehrenfreund reports in the Washington Post:

President Trump told Congress Tuesday night that too many immigrants fail to make their own living and end up dependent on the government.

His evidence: a detailed immigration report published last year by the National Academy of Sciences, a prestigious, nonpartisan research organization.

“It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon,” Trump said in his address to a joint session of Congress. “According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.”

That statement, however, is at odds with some of the report’s most important findings.

Trump is correct that the report did find that current immigrants receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. In 2013, for example, the authors of the report calculated that the government spent $279 billion more on first-generation immigrants than they paid in taxes. But over time, the report projects, immigrants have the opposite effect on the budget deficit. A recent immigrant and her descendants could be — over a 75-year period — expected to pay an average of as much as $259,000 more in taxes than they receive in government benefits.

That conclusion, that current immigrants and their descendants may end up paying far more to the government than they get out of it, seems to undermine Trump’s claim that the current immigration system would impose billions in costs to “America’s taxpayers.”

The forecast that immigrants could ultimately improve the government’s bottom line undermines Trump’s claim that the current system is hugely costly for taxpayers — many of whom are themselves immigrants.

It is true that immigrants are more likely to receive some forms of direct public benefits — including food stamps and Medicaid — than U.S.-born citizens. But, as immigrants tend to be younger, they are also less likely to draw on Medicare and Social Security, and many of them will pay taxes to support these costly programs for years before receiving benefits from them. The authors of the report found that the children of immigrants are “among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the population.”

The report, which stretches more than 500 pages, did not come to any firm conclusion about immigrants’ net effect on public finances, in part because of the complexity of the calculation.

As they are with everyone else, immigrants’ tax and benefit levels are set both by their own economic success and by the fiscal policies lawmakers set over the course of their lifetimes. When the authors calculated the above $259,000 figure, they assumed policymakers will eventually act to balance the national budget. (When the authors assumed the government would continue to run a deficit, they still found the average recent immigrant and her descendants would pay in more than they receive, though in this scenario the surplus shrinks to an average of $77,000.) . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2017 at 6:09 pm

This one is not fake news, though it should be: Republican Senator Threatens Citizen With Arrest If They Continue Asking For A Town Hall

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How weird can it get? Marc Belisle reports in Reverb Press:

A Republican Senator has had enough of his constituents asking him to have a town hall meeting to meet with them. Ron Johnson, Republican US Senator from Wisconsin, has been missing in action in his home state. The citizens have been pestering him to come and talk to them. They have gone to creative lengths to try to get Johnson to interact with Wisconsin voters. The Daily Cardinal reported on February 22nd,

“Roughly 500 constituents gathered at what was termed an “empty chair town hall” for Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., at the First Congregational Church in Madison Wednesday night.”

 Activists have flooded their representatives’ offices across the country with unprecedented volume of calls on a range of issues. Activists have also jammed town halls since the election, especially for Republican representatives, and reacted strongly to Republican threats to gut the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and Medicare. So Johnson is far from alone in having a set of constituents who are enthusiastic about exercising their right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, as enshrined in the First Amendment.

But on Wednesday, he likely became the first Republican representative to begin threatening his constituents for their attempts to petition his office. Citizen Action of Wisconsin posted a letter allegedly postmarked to a Wisconsin citizen whose name is blacked out in the image. The letter reads: . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

Threatening to send the police after a constituent for trying to get their voice heard is idiotic. There’s no law that Capitol Police could possibly enforce that says a constituent can’t contact his or her representative, even if it’s frequent. The letter doesn’t indicate that there’s any issue other than a citizen striving to be heard. If this were someone crossing the line, there would be different legal avenues to deal with that. It’s also shocking but sadly unsurprising. This kind of militant authoritarian response to an expression of democracy would have been unthinkable only months ago. But Donald Trump is unleashing the wannabe-tyrant in his fellow Republicans, and outright contempt for democracy and Americans who try to exercise it is becoming the Republican party’s new “normal.”

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2017 at 5:56 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

Why James Comey’s heroin strategy could just make the problem worse

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Christopher Ingraham reports in the Washington Post:

Speaking in Virginia this week, FBI Director James B. Comey pointed to a classic anti-drug strategy to fight the current heroin epidemic: “Our job is to try to crack down on the supply, literally, to be very blunt, to drive up the price to make it less and less attractive for people who are addicted to pills to move to heroin,” he saidalongside DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.

This “supply-side” approach has been in place at the federal level since the dawn of the drug war: The federal drug budget has traditionally emphasized approaches like destroying plants, intercepting drug shipments and arresting the people who sell drugs. The logic is straightforward: You reduce the supply of drugs, those drugs become more expensive, and the higher prices drive down demand and use of the drugs. Economics 101, right?

In the real world, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Here, for instance, is data on federal spending on supply-side drug control going back to 1981. The numbers are adjusted for inflation to 2012 dollars.


In inflation-adjusted terms, federal supply-side anti-drug spending ballooned from $2.2 billion in 1981 to $15.3 billion in 2012. You can disregard that crater in 2002 — a temporary change to the drug spending calculation was made that year, resulting in a number of significant spending lines removed from it.

Now according to supply-side drug-control theory, increasing this spending should result in a concomitant increase in drug prices. But look what happened to heroin prices, in inflation-adjusted terms, over the same time period — they dropped like a rock.


The inflation-adjusted price per pure gram of heroin fell nearly tenfold, from $3,260 in 1981 to $465 in 2012. The more the feds spent on supply reduction, in other words, the cheaper heroin got (federal data shows that the prices of other drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamines, fell similarly during this period). That’s the exact opposite of what’s “supposed” to happen, and of what Comey says will happen if we crack down on the heroin supply further. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2017 at 3:41 pm

Donald Trump Jr. received $50,000 in speaking fees from a group with ties to Russia

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Christ! Is there no end to it? Read the report of yet another Russian connection—not a strong one, but a lot of loose ones will do the job, as Robert Frost noted in his sonnet:

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,

But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightlest bondage made aware.

Critical analysis here, if you’re interested. In college, we had to diagram the first sentence and probably the second as well.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2017 at 3:15 pm

Twitter Facebook Comment Email Republish Donate 5 Trump Cabinet Members Who’ve Made False Statements to Congress

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Eric Umansky and Marcelo Rochabrun report in ProPublica:

As most of the world knows by now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not tell the truth when he was asked during his confirmation hearings about contacts with Russian officials.

But Sessions isn’t the only one. At least four other cabinet members made statements during their nomination hearings that are contradicted by actual facts: EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

The statements were all made under oath, except those of DeVos. It is a crime to “knowingly” lie in testimony to Congress, but it’s rarely prosecuted.

If you know of instances that we’ve missed, email us.

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

The falsehood: Pruitt stated in testimony that he had never used a private email account to conduct business while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.

The truth: Fox News 25 asked the state Attorney General’s office whether Pruitt had used a personal email. The answer was yes.

The Associated Press also received emails in response to a public records request showing Pruitt using a private account to conduct state business.

Pruitt’s response: None.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

The falsehood: DeVos said during her confirmation hearings that she has not been involved in her family’s foundation, which has given millions of dollars to group that oppose LGBT rights.

“You sit on the board,” Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., noted. DeVos responded, “I do not.”

The truth: As The Intercept has detailed, tax filings have listed DeVos as vice president of the foundation’s board for 17 years.

DeVos’ response: She said the foundation’s nearly two decades of filings were the result of a “clerical error.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2017 at 3:05 pm

Good question by Dem lawmaker: “Why is everybody around Trump lying about Russia? What’s going on?”

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Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) is quoted in Mark Hensch’s report in The Hill:

“Flynn lied, Trump has not shown his taxes, you go back to Manafort in the middle of the summer and his relationship with Russian folks in the Ukraine,” he said, referencing Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned for misleading Vice President Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador, and Paul Manafort, one of Trump’s campaign managers, whose name was discovered in a hand-written ledger showing undisclosed cash payments from Ukraine’s pro-Russia government.

“I mean, what the hell’s going on here?” Ryan asked. “Why is everybody lying? We need to know what’s going on here.”

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2017 at 2:17 pm

Fake news: BREAKING: Trump’s Android Device Believed To Be Source Of Recent White House Leaks

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UPDATE: As pointed out by Owen in comments, this is actually a satirical piece, also “fake news.” And it works the way fake news work: so good you don’t think to check. Apologies. I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. LG /update

This must be terrifically galling to Trump because it makes him look like an idiot, the typical buffoon big shot, calling down wrath and vengence on anyone guilty of leaking… Jeez, I’ve seen that in dozens of comedies: dramatic irony, it’s called. Always good for a laugh, since people like to laugh at the self-important brought up short.

And in fact, it is pretty funny.

From the Seattle Tribune and written by Lucas Bagwell:

If you’ve recently seen the hashtag – #DitchTheDevice trending on social media, it’s because, according to several private intelligence reports, the source of the multiple recent leaks within the White House is President Trump’s unsecured Android device.

Throughout the past several weeks President Trump and his administration have expressed extreme frustration over the multiple leaks provided to members of the press from inside the White House.

The recent leaks range from information regarding his executive orders (before he issued them), fighting and chaos among White House staffers, classified conversations with foreign leaders (specifically Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull & Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto), White House staffers conducting meetings in the dark because they can’t figure out how the lights work, and President Trump wandering the White House in his bathrobe.

President Trump has repeatedly dismissed the leaks and has referred to the leaked information as – “Illegal Leaks” while vowing to go after those revealing sensitive information to the press.

According to information from an unconnected Washington insider, President Trump, who remains leery of the federal intelligence community and is suspicious enough of career politicians that he’s accused holdovers from the Obama Administration as being the ones responsible for leaking information, decided to contract multiple private intelligence agencies to investigate the leaks.

Initial reports from two such agencies, A.R.H. Intelligence and Z|13 Security, indicate they suspect the source of the recent White House leaks to be President Trump’s unsecured Android device.

President Trump has received fierce . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2017 at 1:49 pm

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