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Kudlow says Trump isn’t gutting Social Security, payroll tax: Report

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-11 00:41, modified at 02:56

No, President Donald Trump is not going after Social Security.

Clarifying earlier remarks from the president, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow announced Sunday that Trump is not making permanent cuts to payroll taxes, the Washington Examiner reportedTrump himself has also pushed back on the claims from Democrats, who fear eliminating the tax and, with it, entitlements like Social Security.

Trump gives temporary relief

Trump signed a series of executive orders on Saturday to extend financial relief for Americans struggling through the coronavirus pandemic, including an order that would temporarily suspend the payroll tax through the rest of the year for Americans making less than $100,000, as UPI reported.

According to the Examiner, the president also went further and suggested that the cut could be made “permanent” if he wins a second term. Like clockwork, Democrats accused him of trespassing on Congress’ powers and threatening Social Security and Medicare. But that’s not exactly what he meant.

In a contentious interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, Larry Kudlow said that entitlements will be left intact and that Trump meant that a deferral on payroll taxes will be permanently forgiven — not that Trump wants to eliminate the tax entirely.

“When he referred to permanent, I think what he was saying is that the deferral of the payroll tax to the end of the year will be made permanent. It will be forgiven. The tax is not going away. We’re still going to have the Social Security tax,” Kudlow said, according to the Examiner.

He went on: “I believe he was referring to doing away with the payback of the deferral, and I think his intent here, and it’s written in the [executive order], it’s very clear, that we will take any steps possible to forgive this deferral.”

Wage boost for workers

According to the New York Post, Trump said Sunday that he is considering a “permanent” cut but that it would have “no impact on Social Security.”

The president had talked up the payroll tax cut for months before following through over the weekend, after talks between Republicans and Democrats on the next coronavirus relief package went kaput. According to UPI, Democrats have said that Trump’s orders, which also include an evictions moratorium, student loan relief, and a $400 unemployment enhancement, are unconstitutional and do not go far enough to help Americans.

But while acknowledging that many are still unemployed, Kudlow said that the tax cut would provide a considerable boon to millions of Americans.

“We’re giving 140 million people who work through this pandemic, they’re heroes, we’re giving them about a $1200 wage increase after tax,” Kudlow said Sunday, according to the Examiner.

It remains to be seen what comes of this, but there’s little doubt that Trump is thinking boldly — as is needed.


Trump campaign: President is in better electoral shape than at same point in 2016

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-10 00:30, modified at 03:02

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has just been hit with some crushing news.

Fox News reports that President Donald Trump’s re-election team believes that he is currently in a better position against Biden than he was against Hillary Clinton at this same point four years ago.

Ahead of the game

Erin Perrine, Trump 2020’s director of press communications, discussed the current state of election efforts in a recent interview with the network. “Anywhere we look at this point on the states we’re tracking, we are ahead of where we were in 2016,” Perrine told Fox.

During her appearance, Perrine focused on two areas from which she is deriving confidence in the president’s re-election chances — improved grassroots operations in battleground states and recent shifts in polling numbers.

“The campaign is doing exceptionally well across the country. We have made over 75 million voter contacts,” she said, according to Fox. “And to compare that to 2016, we had made just over 30 million the entire cycle.”

Poll numbers improve

Perrine also claimed that Trump is doing better against Biden in the polls that he was against Clinton at the same point in the 2016 election season.

“We’re doing better now at this point in the election cycle than we were in ’16,” Perrine said. “Even if you look at the Fox News poll numbers, we’re ahead of where we were.”

Fox News noted: “In short, Biden is up 8 points currently in the Fox News poll over Trump, whereas in the June and August 2016 polls Clinton’s advantage was 6 points and 10 points, respectively.”

Similarly, in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Biden is currently leading Trump by 6.4 percentage points. At this same point in 2016, Clinton had a 7.2 percentage-point lead over Trump.

Perhaps, though, what is most encouraging about these poll numbers is that they are going in the right direction for President Trump — the gap is starting to tighten as November draws nearer.

Cause for optimism

There are several reasons to remain cautious despite these strong indicators, according to Fox News, including the fact that the president’s approval ratings are not in favorable territory, and Trump has fallen behind Biden in virtually every national poll since January. Still, Perrine believes optimism is warranted, telling Fox:

We have a candidate who has a record and a message that the American people can connect with. Joe Biden, no matter what he spends on ads or how he tries to spin it, he doesn’t have a record to sell.

Time will tell how things unfold in the coming days and whether Biden’s imminent vice presidential pick has any appreciable impact on his electoral fortunes. But with Trump currently outpacing his 2016 performance against Clinton at a comparable point in the election season, there is no reason to doubt that a similar outcome is in the offing.


Falwell on ‘indefinite leave of absence’ from Liberty University after controversial social media image

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-09 00:30, modified on 2020-08-08 21:20

Amid backlash over a controversial social media post, Liberty University announced that Jerry Falwell Jr. has agreed to “take an indefinite leave of absence” from his positions at the university, as reported by The Blaze.

A statement released on Friday did not specifically state why he would be stepping down, but signaled that the decision was made at the request of the Christian university’s board.

“Effective immediately”

“The Executive Committee of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met today and requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr. take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University, to which he has agreed, effective immediately,” it read.

Though the remarks did not mention any cause, the timing lends itself to an obvious connection to an Instagram photo he posted while on vacation earlier this month. In it, Falwell can be seen with his arm around a woman who was not his wife. Both had their shirts raised and their pants unfastened and unzipped.

“More vacation shots,” the caption read. “Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass.”

The post led to widespread criticism, including one call for his resignation from a Republican lawmaker who also serves on the university’s music advisory board.

“Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling,” tweeted Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC).

“None of us are perfect”

“I’m convinced Falwell should step down,” Walker’s statement continued. “None of us are perfect, but students, faculty, alumni and [LU Praise] deserve better.”

While Falwell removed the post, issued an apology, and attempted to explain the context behind the photo, the damage had apparently already been done.

Falwell said he would “try to be a good boy” in the future and identified the woman pictured with him as his wife’s pregnant assistant. He said they both had trouble zipping their pants in the moments before the photo was taken.

It remains unclear when, or if, Falwell will again take the helm of the respected institution. It is yet another mark in favor of Liberty University’s credibility that its board is obviously treating this situation seriously.


Biden attempts to ‘clarify’ remarks about diversity among African American voters

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-08 00:31, modified at 02:49

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has apparently decided not to say he’s sorry.

Without apologizing for the content of his remarks, the candidate claimed Thursday that he had been misunderstood when he said that members of “the African American community” don’t have the same “diversity” of thought as Latino voters, the Washington Examiner reported.

“I want to clarify”

Former Vice President Biden — or perhaps the “woke” intern who runs his Twitter account — said Thursday that he did not intend to assert that Black voters are a “monolith.”

“Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith — not by identity, not on issues, not at all,” a tweet from Biden read, according to the Examiner.

The remarks came in reference to a slip of the tongue by the Democrat in an interview taped Tuesday and released Thursday, when Biden suggested that African American voters, unlike Latino voters, are basically of one mind. It was just the latest comment from Biden suggesting that he views Black voters as a uniform group.

“Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things,” Biden had said, as the Examiner reported.

According to Fox News, President Donald Trump came out swinging at his rival over the comments, saying later Thursday that Biden had “totally disparaged and insulted” the Black community.

“No longer worthy”

Trump had an even more forceful attack on Friday morning, tweeting, “After yesterday’s statement, Sleepy Joe Biden is no longer worthy of the Black Vote!”

Biden, for his part, continued his non-apology with a progressive word salad that skirted the issue.

“Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community,” he wrote on Twitter, according to the Examiner. “It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place. My commitment to you is this: I will always listen, I will never stop fighting for the African American community and I will never stop fighting for a more equitable future.”

Apparently, Biden doesn’t think a genuine apology is in order — but that isn’t terribly surprising coming from the candidate who said that African Americans who don’t vote for him “ain’t Black.”

It’s probably safe to assume that this won’t be the last time Biden’s handlers have to rush in with some contrived “clarification” to his ramblings. It’s going to be a long three months.


State Department’s acting inspector general announces resignation

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-07 00:44, modified at 02:32

The State Department’s top watchdog has resigned less than three months after President Donald Trump fired his predecessor. 

According to Politico, the shake-ups at the State Department continued on Wednesday when it was announced that acting Inspector General (IG) Stephen Akard would be stepping down from the role he took over from Steve Linick in May.

He’s out

According to the Washington Examiner, State Department staffers were notified on Wednesday that Akard was leaving the department and returning to Indiana.

“Ambassador Stephen J. Akard, the State Department’s Acting Inspector General and the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, has announced he is returning to the private sector after years of public service,” a department spokesperson said, according to The Hill.

Akard’s resignation drew immediate scrutiny from Democrats, who have been investigating the firing of his predecessor, an Obama holdover who Trump ousted amid controversy in May, as Reuters noted. Democrats have accused President Trump of purging disloyal officials, and they cast Linick as a victim of an effort to rid a corrupt administration of necessary watchdogs.

According to Reuters, Linick was investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was having staff do personal chores, like walking his dog, when he was fired. Another probe from the former IG reportedly looked into a Saudi Arabian arms deal worth billions of dollars.

Akard, for his part, had recused himself from the probes under pressure from Democrats, who claimed that he had conflicts of interest, as the Associated Press reported.

“A leadership crisis”

As Politico noted, Akard stepped into the role under scrutiny over the fact that he once worked for Mike Pence, then the governor of Indiana, at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Akard also kept a job at the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions while serving as the department’s top watchdog.

Reacting to the news of his departure, Democrats said that Akard was not the “right choice” but that his resignation was nevertheless alarming.

“I am concerned that his sudden resignation leaves another opportunity for the Trump Administration to try to weaken oversight and accountability,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said Wednesday, according to Politico.

“As a leadership crisis at the State Department continues to shake the agency to its core, it is imperative that the next IG, or the Deputy IG, ensures that the work of the office continues apace,” Menendez added. “I will be closely scrutinizing the replacement choice and the work of the IG’s office.”

According to UPI, Democrat Reps. Eliot Engel (NY) and Carolyn Maloney (NY) warned in a Wednesday statement against “any effort by the Trump Administration to install another political loyalist.” It remains to be seen, however, whom the White House has in mind for the job.


Trump Jr. opposes Alaskan mining project despite administration efforts to approve it

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-06 00:30, modified at 01:36

One of the president’s sons is calling on his father to scuttle a controversial mining project.

Donald Trump Jr., who is an avid fisherman, came out publicly on Tuesday against the Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, despite the Trump administration’s recent moves toward approving the endeavor, the Washington Examiner reported.

“Too unique and fragile”

Pebble Limited Partnership, which has been seeking construction approval from the federal government for years, is on track to move ahead with the mining project after the Army Corps of Engineers concluded in a July report that it would not damage the environment, according to the Examiner.

But Trump Jr., in a shock tweet, said that the venture was not worth risking harm to Bristol Bay, which is the site of the biggest commercial sockeye salmon fishery in the world. 

“As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area I agree 100%,” Trump Jr. said in a tweet responding to objections to the project raised by Nick Ayers of the World Economic Forum. “The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take chances with.”

The proposed copper and gold mine, which would be the largest in North America, has faced significant pushback from lawmakers, environmentalists, and tribal organizations alike.

House Democrats have expressed opposition to the project, following in the footsteps of the Obama administration, but there appears to be an even wider belt of consensus.

Widespread opposition

Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s former chief of staff, explained his position on the proposed mine in a tweet that prompted Trump Jr.’s own declaration.

“Like millions of conservationists and sportsmen, I am hoping [President Trump] will direct [the Environment Protection Agency] to block the Pebble mine in Bristol Bay,” Ayers tweeted. “A Canadian company will unnecessarily mine the USA’s greatest fishery at a severe cost,” he continued. “This should be stopped and I believe @POTUS will do so!”

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Pebble Limited Partnership spokesman Mike Heatwole said that Trump Jr. and Ayers are “wrong” because the Army Corps of Engineers already found “that Pebble mine will not harm the Bristol Bay salmon fishery.”

A source told The Washington Post that Trump Jr. has been following the issue for years and has brought it up with his father in the past. But the Trump administration has generally opposed Obama’s environmental agenda, and its position on the Pebble Mine has been seen as no exception.

Might this be an occasion for bipartisan consensus? Americans will find out soon enough what the president decides.


Former Pope Benedict XVI reportedly in poor health after visit to Germany

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-05 00:30, modified at 04:19

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is reportedly in poor health.

Millions were alarmed by newspaper reports that the 93-year-old former pope is in a bad way after returning from a trip to Germany. The Vatican insists that his condition, while painful, is “not particularly worrying.”

Pope Benedict in poor health

Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger, was the first pope to step down in 600 years when he resigned in 2013 for health reasons, taking the title of pope emeritus.

At the time, Ratzinger said he was getting to be too old to lead the largest religious institution in the world, and his condition appears to have worsened acutely since.

His biographer, Peter Seewald, reported to a German newspaper that Benedict looked very ill when he visited him at his home in a Vatican monastery on Saturday. Seewald told Passauer Neue Presse that Benedict was cheerful but very frail, and his voice was barely audible.

Benedict is apparently suffering from shingles, a viral infection that causes painful rashes.

The report followed a June trip by Benedict to visit his dying brother, Reverend Georg Ratzinger, in their native Bavaria. It was Benedict’s first time leaving Italy since he stepped down. His brother died at 96 on July 1.

“Not particularly worrying”

On Monday, a Vatican spokesman said in a statement, “The health conditions of the Pope Emeritus are not particularly worrying, apart from being those of an old man of 93 who is overcoming the most acute phase of a painful but not grave illness.”

Often seen as more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, Benedict is the author of countless books, and together with Seewald has published four. He told his biographer that he would like to start writing again if and when his health permits.

According to the Catholic News Agency, a bishop in Germany said that Benedict “clearly has trouble articulating” and “speaks in a low, almost whispering voice” but “his thoughts are perfectly clear.”

While his voice may be physically weakened, Benedict continues to express his concerns about the state of the world, warning of a “worldwide dictatorship of seemingly humanist ideologies” in his new biography.

“Modern society is in the process of formulating an anti-Christian creed, and resisting this creed is punished by social ex-communication,” he writes.


Report alleges swing voters in the Midwest are still stumping for Trump

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-04 00:41, modified on 2020-08-03 19:59

In a stunning development, even CNN has been forced to admit that a win for Joe Biden this November isn’t guaranteed.

In a piece published Wednesday by the left-leaning news outlet, which President Donald Trump himself has often dubbed “fake news,” a focus group moderator alleged that despite the mainstream media’s best efforts, many Midwestern swing voters are planning to stick with Trump this Election Day.

Report: Swing voters still want Trump

With the election months away, Democrats have invested heavily in attacking Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his reaction to widespread unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, accusing the president of cracking down on “peaceful protesters” as a distraction from his failure to get the pandemic under control.

Encouraged by the polls, Democrats and the media have all but declared a win against Trump this fall. But many “Obama–Trump” voters who helped Trump win the first time are still showing “strong support” for the president, according to Rich Thau of the Swing Voter Project.

In his Wednesday piece for CNN, which has not been independently fact-checked, Thau alleged that 22 of 33 respondents in recent focus groups preferred Trump over Biden, and the reasons are familiar: many want an outsider to steer Washington in a new direction and put America first, as Trump promised to do in 2016.

“These voters tell me they want America finally to be put first; they oppose immigration and trade policies they say give benefits to foreigners at their expense,” Thau alleged. “And they want a non-politician who relentlessly fights back, after witnessing too many office holders fold in the face of special interests.”

Biden has tried to appeal to swing voters by emulating Trump’s manufacturing policies, as Reuters notes, but it doesn’t look like the former vice president has convinced many that he has anything new to offer.

They aren’t falling for it

Recent polls have also shown that many think that Biden has “dementia” and that this would make him a “puppet” of special interests. What’s more, many potential swing voters are rejecting how the media and the Joe Biden campaign have attempted to frame the final months of Trump’s first term, Thau alleges.

According to Thau, voters don’t blame Trump for the ongoing pandemic, and they aren’t falling for distortions of riots as “peaceful protests,” either. They also reject tearing down statues and calls to “defund the police,” which Trump has sought to tie to Biden, in signs of a possible backlash against radicalism that Democrats have ignored.

“They feel Covid-19 was not Trump’s fault, and he’s doing the best he can to contain it,” Thau alleged in his piece for CNN. “They conflate the Black Lives Matter protesters with the rioters attacking federal buildings and retail shops. They don’t want historic monuments torn down. And they dismiss defunding the police as ridiculous.”

It’s very possible that “Obama–Trump” voters will flip-flop again, as Thau notes, and he said the voters he interviewed don’t dislike Biden as intensely as they do Hillary Clinton. But while Democrats say they’re doing better than four years ago, it’s possible that will change.

And if even CNN is willing to admit Biden’s faults, perhaps things are faring much better for Trump than we’ve been led to believe.


Tucker Carlson blasts Obama for ‘desecrating’ funeral of John Lewis ‘with campaign slogans’

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-03 00:30, modified at 02:52

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson unleashed fury on former President Barack Obama on Thursday, The Hill reported.

Motivating Carlson’s remarks was the overtly political performance Obama delivered at a recent memorial service for Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). The former president demonized President Donald Trump, his administration, and all things Republican while calling on Congress to pass a new iteration of the Voting Rights Act and to eliminate the filibuster in the Senate.

Obama’s “eulogy” was far more reminiscent of a campaign rally than a funeral, as Carlson noted.

“What kind of person would do that?”

“Barack Obama, one of the sleaziest and most dishonest figures in American politics, used George Floyd’s death in a funeral to attack the police,” Carlson began, according to the Daily Beast.

What really got the Fox News host upset wasn’t so much the anti-Trump rhetoric — that is to be expected from the likes of Obama these days. Rather, it was that Obama would stoop so low as to use a man’s funeral to try to score some political points.

“If some greasy politician showed up at your loved one’s funeral and started throwing around stupid partisan talking points about Senate procedure…you would probably walk out,” Carlson said, according to RealClearPolitics. “Desecrating a funeral with campaign slogans, what kind of person would do that?”

Fanning the flames

Carlson didn’t stop there. He also took issue with the following few lines from Obama’s speech, saying, according to The Hill:

Bull Connor may be gone. But today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans. George Wallace may be gone. But we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.

Connor was the longtime Birmingham, Alabama, commissioner of public safety who used fire hoses and police dogs on civil rights activists in the 1960s, and Wallace was the state’s infamous segregationist governor who notoriously supported “Jim Crow” policies throughout his four terms in office.

Obama’s implication was clear: President Trump and his administration are racists.

“Bull Connor?” Carlson asked rhetorically. “The country falling apart, riven by racial strife and tribalism, and one of the most respected people in the whole country decides to pour gasoline on that and compare the police to Bull Connor? As if America or Minneapolis is like Birmingham, Ala., in 1963? It’s insane. It’s reckless.”

Disappointing, but not surprising

Obama’s so-called eulogy would have been more surprising if it wasn’t the sort of thing of which Democrats have been guilty for quite some time. For Obama and the left, really only one thing matters: the accumulation and consolidation of political power.

Carlson, as usual, hit the nail on the head. “Obama doesn’t care,” he said Thursday. “It’s only about November and the coming election.”


Trump reaches deal with Kodak to produce pharmaceutical ingredients in US

Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-02 00:30, modified on 2020-08-01 19:13

This week, the Trump administration announced a deal with Kodak that will bring the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals back to the United States. 

Something highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic is the United States’ dependence on other countries, like China, for pharmaceuticals. The point of this deal is to start addressing this problem.

Massive change coming

It does so by resurrecting Kodak, the one-time camera and film powerhouse. Under the Defense Production Act, the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. will provide Kodak with a $765 million loan that will help the company to start producing essential medicine ingredients.

According to a fact sheet released by the White House, Kodak will be able to produce 25 percent of the country’s generic active pharmaceutical ingredients. In case you are wondering what a camera company has to do with pharmaceuticals, Kodak was once a leading producer of organic chemicals.

“The Eastman Kodak research lab, in the latter part of the 20th century, was one of the great industrial research labs in the world, especially for organic chemistry,” Harvard Business School professor and former Kodak executive Willy Shih told The Epoch Times.

“A momentous step”

President Trump referred to the deal as “a momentous step toward achieving American pharmaceutical independence.”

“Our 33rd use of the Defense Production Act will mobilize Kodak to make generic, active pharmaceutical ingredients,” Trump said. “We will bring back our jobs and we will make America the world’s premier medical manufacturer and supplier.”

On this one, President Trump is also receiving the support of at least some Democrats. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) wrote on Twitter that he was “happy to have worked” on the deal. The Kodak plant where the ingredients will be produced is located in Rochester, New York.

“The fed gov took a smart step today in using the Defense Production Act,” Cuomo added. “Americans should never again rely on foreign supplies during a pandemic.”

Exciting stuff

Following President Trump’s announcement, Kodak shares jumped by over a thousand percentage points. The company’s market value went from roughly a hundred million to over a billion in just a matter of days.

Let’s hope this is just the start of America regaining its independence on the pharmaceutical front.