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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#14081 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-October-23, 09:56

View PostWinstonm, on 2019-October-23, 09:08, said:

The "fighting corruption" defense won't fly:



Actually, that one is pretty easy to deal with. They want Ukraine to fight their own corruption, we're not going to spend our own money on it.

The Trump administration has been pretty consistent about this. A big reason why there are so many people trying to immigrate from Latin America is because they're running from the drug cartels. But Trump has been reducing aid earmarked with combatting the druglords, instead spreading the lie that the people trying to come here are the criminals and using that to justify increase border security.

#14082 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-23, 15:52

It's disheartening to see Republican members of Congress freaking out as the case for impeachment grows and hearing guys like Senator John Thune (R-SD) say stuff like "The picture coming out of it, based on the reporting that we’ve seen, I would say is not a good one".
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#14083 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-23, 16:02

According to Emily Stewart at Vox there are a lot of people on Wall Street who like Elizabeth Warren.

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Some in the industry believe that the excesses of the financial system continue to be a problem in the wake of the Great Recession and that corporate concentration, wealth inequality, and lax regulation are still issues that need addressing. Do they think she’s 100 percent right on everything? No. But they know she’s smart, and they think she’s approaching policy with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. They believe Warren when she says she is a capitalist and are on board with her brand of capitalism.

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One of the most headline-grabbing proposals of Warren’s presidential campaign thus far has been the wealth tax. She wants to levy a 2 percent tax on fortunes of over $50 million and a 3 percent tax on fortunes of over $1 billion. One Deutsche Bank economist laughed off the idea that this would affect broad swathes of Wall Street. There are a lot of people who might envision themselves as the real-life Gordon Gekko, but very few actually get there. “There’s something very aspirational about pretending that you’re going to be impacted by the wealth tax,” he said.

But even if they did hit the $50 million net worth mark, the Warren supporters I talked with said they would be fine. “If the prospect of losing 2 percent of your wealth would get you to let Trump win, did you ever have any principles at all?” said one researcher at a major hedge fund.

One trader was more cutting in his assessment: “I’m fully on board with soaking the rich, 100 percent, and if that involves me paying more taxes, let’s go.”

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#14084 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-October-24, 09:38

Note that her tax is only on your assets that are in excess of $50 million, not on your entire net worth. So if you're worth $60 million, you pay 2% of $10 million, or $200K, and you're still worth $59.8 million -- practically unchanged (you'll have to cut back your spending by 1 car a year). And if much of this is invested in the stock market, you'll make it all back in a few days or weeks, assuming normal stock growth.

#14085 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-24, 15:43

Steve Bannon has some advice for the president and his handlers:

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Stop calling the inquiry a “witch hunt” and a “deep state” conspiracy, they said by way of guidance to the president and his advisers, because it’s deluding too many Trump supporters into a sense of complacency.

Stop insisting that polls showing majority public support for the impeachment inquiry are “fake news” — because they aren’t.

Stop dismissing everyone who testifies about the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine as a radical unelected bureaucrat.

And stop letting Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, go on Laura Ingraham’s and Sean Hannity’s prime time Fox News programs to defend the president.

We can’t do the Rudy thing anymore. Too many Ukrainian names, too many moving pieces.

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I don’t care if you hate Nancy Pelosi. This is a master, and she is teaching a master class. Tough as boot leather.

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#14086 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-25, 06:52

From David Leonhardt at NYT:

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The founders used broad language when they described the grounds for impeachment — the famous “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The generality of the term ensured that impeachment would be a political process, rather than a technical or purely legal one. There is no specific definition of an impeachable crime, in the way that there is a definition of robbery, assault or embezzlement.

But the founders did leave some pretty strong evidence for what kinds of offenses they were imagining. And President Trump — by seeking foreign interference in domestic politics, for personal gain — has come closer to committing those particular offenses than any president before him. He has outdone Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, who were impeached, and Richard Nixon, who would have been had he not resigned.

As the legal scholars Jean Galbraith and Michel Paradis wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week:

When draft­ing the Con­sti­tution’s Im­peach­ment Clause, the Framers had a spe­cific his­tor­i­cal episode in mind. In 1649 the Eng­lish House of Com­mons im­peached King Charles I for trea­son. Charles was alleged to have un­law­fully sub­verted Eng­lish democ­racy, and the fi­nal ar­ti­cle of im­peach­ment charged that he col­luded with Eng­land’s for­eign ad­ver­saries in his cam­paign against his do­mes­tic polit­ical ri­vals …

Dur­ing the Con­sti­tu­tional Con­ven­tion, Ben­jamin Frank­lin cited this ex­am­ple “of a first Mag­is­trate being for­mally brought to pub­lic Jus­tice” as rea­son to include an im­peach­ment clause in the Constitution. James Madi­son agreed, not­ing the need “for de­fending the Com­mu­nity against the incapac­ity, neg­li­gence or per­fidy of the chief Mag­is­trate,” who “might be­tray his trust to for­eign powers.”

In America’s long history, Trump appears to be the president most deserving of impeachment as the founders envisioned it. Congratulations, Mr. President.

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#14087 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2019-October-25, 15:02

I think the DT defense is has now become "He never said quid". Probably he doesn't know what "quid" means. In my teen-age years I had a discussion with a girl as to exactly what was involved in tit-for-tat.

https://arnoldzwicky.../squid-pro-quo/
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#14088 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-25, 16:22

From Christopher Bertram at LRB:

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In the early hours of yesterday morning, Essex police were called to a parked lorry container. Inside were the bodies of 39 people, one of them a teenager. Their identities and nationalities were initially unknown, but we have since learned that they are Chinese nationals. The driver, a young man from Northern Ireland, has been arrested.

Normally, faced with such a body count and the appearance of mass murder, politicians and commentators would be circumspect, perhaps uttering routine expressions of horror and pledging their support to a police investigation. But they would not have already worked out who was to blame. Still less would they announce their theories in the House of Commons. During Prime Minister’s Questions on the day of the discovery, the Thurrock MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, said: ‘To put 39 people into a locked metal container shows a contempt for human life that is evil. The best thing we can do in memory of those victims is to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.’ Boris Johnson was quick to respond: ‘All such traders in human beings should be hunted down and brought to justice.’

Anthony Steen, a former Tory MP and the chair of the Human Trafficking Foundation, was more expansive in his speculations on BBC Radio 5, suggesting to Rachel Burden that the people were probably fleeing persecution in their countries of origin, and that those countries may well have been Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. That assumption, though mistaken, was not an unreasonable one. Steen seemed to be about to broach the broader questions of exclusion, to explain why people would pay smugglers tens of thousands of pounds rather than, say, hopping on a flight to Heathrow from Tehran, but at that point Burden closed things down: ‘A whole other debate,’ she said. A pity.

We may never know the stories of the people who asphyxiated in that container, just as we don’t know who thousands of the drowned in the Mediterranean are, or the names of the numberless dead whose desiccated corpses lie in the Arizona desert. But we do know that some of them were escaping the kind of persecution that would entitle them to sanctuary elsewhere under the 1951 Refugee Convention, and that others, their lives made intolerable by crime, or their opportunities curtailed by environmental degradation or malfunctioning economies, felt they had no choice but to seek a better life.

That things are going so badly for people that they have to leave friends and family should be a reason for human sympathy whatever the cause, but tracing those causes often leads straight back to those of us who live in the countries they are heading for, the decisions of our politicians and our ways of life. These explanations will not form part of the investigations by the Essex police. The countries mentioned by Steen are marked by our interventions, sometimes directly, sometimes through sanctions, sometimes through actions in the wider region such as the 2003 Iraq invasion. The environmental changes that are pushing many people to move are caused by greenhouse gases that they did not emit. The rich world’s appetite for narcotics, and the decisions of our leaders to fight a ‘war’ against them, lie behind the criminal violence that drives people from Central America and elsewhere.

China, where the victims found in Essex appear to have come from, is both a valued trading partner for the West and, for some minorities, a tyranny; a land of stunning wealth for some, of poverty and marginalisation for others. It is also a country with a global diaspora, but historic patterns of migration and family relationships have been blocked by the hardening of the world’s borders.

Those hard borders mean than people now have to pay smugglers to take them by dangerous methods and routes. The countries they are heading for, which never cease to trumpet how welcoming they are to ‘genuine’ refugees, are absolutely determined to prevent people who might claim asylum from arriving. A variety of measures, documented by David Scott Fitzgerald in Refuge Beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers, now make it impossible for people with the wrong passport or the wrong profile to get on a plane from Tehran, Addis Ababa or Shanghai. They won’t be allowed to buy a ticket; airlines and shipping companies will stop them boarding without a visa, and no wealthy country will grant one. Countries along the way, often brutal dictatorships, are bribed to prevent the undesirable from crossing. Keep them there, out of sight: anywhere but here.

Johnson’s revulsion at ‘traders in human beings’ suggests an uncharacteristic aversion to entrepreneurship. But the rhetorical attempt to appeal to our sense that lives should not be bought and sold masks the fact that states also criminalise people who assist migrants and refugees out of solidarity and concern: the Sea Watch captains Carola Rackete and Pia Klemp were arrested by Italy for rescuing people in the Mediterranean; Scott Warren was prosecuted for providing aid in the Arizona desert; Cédric Herrou, a French farmer, was brought to trial for giving shelter to Africans freezing in the Alps. What our politicians and pundits object to is not the making of money from human suffering, or dead bodies, so long as the bodies are somewhere else. When they turn up in Essex, dead people are an embarrassment and the perpetrators must be found.

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#14089 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-25, 16:48

By David A. Graham at The Atlantic:

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A resolution meant to be a show of solidarity by Republicans with the president has instead become a sign of weakness.

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As the White House struggles to build an anti-impeachment strategy, President Donald Trump turned this week to Lindsey Graham, his staunchest ally in the Senate, to try to stiffen Republican spines in that chamber. It’s not going the way the president must have hoped.

On Thursday, Graham announced that he’d put forward a resolution condemning the House impeachment inquiry. By mid-afternoon, when he actually announced it, the resolution had been watered down to a plea for a different and more transparent process, apparently a sop to GOP senators unwilling to go quite that far. And yet by Friday morning, only 44 of 53 Republicans in the Senate had signed on to the resolution. A gesture meant to be a show of solidarity by senators has instead become a sign of the weakness of the president’s position.

The Senate was supposed to be Trump’s firewall in the Ukraine scandal, and there’s still not any reason to believe that there would be 67 senators willing to vote to remove the president. But with impeachment in the House an all-but-foregone conclusion, as I wrote earlier this week, the administration is turning its focus to the Senate, and it’s proving to be less of a redoubt than Trump wanted.

The New York Times reports:

After another private meeting Monday night with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, Mr. Trump began complaining privately that he did not think Senate Republicans were doing enough to have his back. For days, some allies of the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., had agitated on Twitter for Mr. Graham to do more to try to counteract Democrats in the House.

One line of pressure has been for Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, to call witnesses in that chamber as a sort of counterprogramming, though on Thursday he said that made no sense to him.

But Graham is not the problem; he’s signaled a willingness to stand by Trump through thick, thin, and horrific lynching analogies. The White House’s challenge is other senators. Some Republicans have been notably open to an impeachment inquiry, but most have been conspicuously quiet. Some use the time-honored excuse that they’d serve as jurors in a trial and therefore ought not to weigh in; many more are simply dodging questions. What they’re mostly not doing is mounting substantive defenses of the president’s behavior. A Daily Caller canvass found only seven of the 53 Republicans were willing to rule out voting to remove Trump.

Republican senators have always been less tractable for Trump than representatives, though the GOP controls the Senate but not the House. The president has many rah-rah fans in the House, and House members are also more vulnerable to pressure from Trump-loving constituents if they get out of line with the White House. (Francis Rooney of Florida, the most outspoken Trump critic on the Ukraine matter in recent weeks, has announced he’s retiring.) Senators are more insulated from immediate political pressure, more rooted in Washington and the party structure, and less fond of the president.

Nonetheless, it would take a major change in the evidence against Trump, or a vast shift in polling, for enough Republican senators to support conviction that the president would be in serious danger of removal in a Senate trial. Yet it’s clear that Trump does care a great deal about senators’ positions. The impetus for his hasty cancellation of plans to host the Group of Seven summit at his resort in Doral, Florida, was apparently the anger it provoked among Republican senators. In the past, Trump has been content to weather their displeasure, but this time he folded.

Perhaps Trump believes that a unified GOP Senate response will persuade Democrats not to vote to impeach; I am skeptical that will work. Or perhaps Trump worries about the political damage if a majority of the Senate voted to convict, even if it didn’t lead to removal. It would take only four GOP defections to reach a majority for conviction in the Senate.

There’s little precedent that can help forecast what the political fallout might be. A majority of senators voted to convict President Andrew Johnson, but they fell one vote short of removal; Johnson’s presidency never recovered. More recently, the Senate voted 45–50 and 50–50 to acquit President Bill Clinton, without a majority for conviction in either case. Even so, that result was arguably ruinous for his Democratic Party in the 2000 election. It would be a powerful talking point if Democrats headed into the 2020 campaign season with a vote for conviction in the Senate that had garnered a majority with Republican support, even without removal, so Trump’s worry is rational.

Graham may eventually be able to cajole the rest of the Republican caucus into signing on to his resolution condemning the House process. The final vote isn’t the point, though. Graham’s resolution was intended to send a message about Senate support for Trump—and it already has.

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#14090 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-25, 17:14

From Charlie Savage and Emily Cochrane at NYT:

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The House is legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a federal judge ruled on Friday, delivering a major victory to House Democrats and undercutting arguments by President Trump and Republicans that the investigation is a sham.

The House Judiciary Committee is entitled to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in a 75-page opinion. Attorney General William P. Barr had withheld the material from lawmakers.

Typically, Congress has no right to view secret evidence gathered by a grand jury. But in 1974, the courts permitted the committee weighing whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon to see such materials — and, Judge Howell ruled, the House is now engaged in the same process focused on Mr. Trump.

Judge Howell, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, wrote that law enforcement officials’ need to keep the information secret from Congress was “minimal” and easily outweighed by lawmakers’ need for it.

“Tipping the scale even further toward disclosure is the public’s interest in a diligent and thorough investigation into, and in a final determination about, potentially impeachable conduct by the president described in the Mueller report,” she wrote.

In reaching her decision, Judge Howell rejected the contention by Mr. Trump and his allies that the investigation Democrats are pursuing, which has since expanded to encompass the Ukraine scandal, is not a legitimate impeachment inquiry.

The Justice Department is reviewing the decision, a spokeswoman said.

In arguing that the impeachment inquiry is a sham, Republicans have noted that the full House has not voted for a resolution to authorize one, as it did in 1974 and 1998 at the start of impeachment proceedings targeting Nixon and Bill Clinton. Democrats have countered that no resolution is required under the Constitution or House rules, noting that impeachment efforts to remove other officials, like judges, started without one.

Judge Howell agreed, calling the Republican arguments to the contrary “cherry-picked and incomplete” and without support in the text of the Constitution, House rules, or court precedents. She also noted that the House Judiciary Committee began considering whether to impeach President Andrew Johnson, after the Civil War, well before the full House approved a resolution blessing it.

“Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry,” she wrote.

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#14091 User is offline   Chas_P 

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Posted 2019-October-25, 18:16

View Posty66, on 2019-October-25, 17:14, said:

From Charlie Savage and Emily Cochrane at NYT:


Tough week for the dark side.


Depends on one's view of "the dark side". The judge is an Obama apointee.

#14092 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2019-October-25, 20:09

View PostZelandakh, on 2019-October-23, 07:05, said:

Any of our resident Reds want to suggest a defence they could get behind and believe in?

View PostChas_P, on 2019-October-25, 18:16, said:


Still waiting.
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#14093 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2019-October-26, 00:03

I thought the marching orders are to complain about the process? After all, given that every criminal investigation must be carried out completely inthe open, and the police must allow a suspect's lawyer to participate in every witness interview - it's right there in the constitution, right? - surely we should afford the president the same protections?
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#14094 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2019-October-26, 03:36

View Postcherdano, on 2019-October-26, 00:03, said:

I thought the marching orders are to complain about the process? After all, given that every criminal investigation must be carried out completely inthe open, and the police must allow a suspect's lawyer to participate in every witness interview - it's right there in the constitution, right? - surely we should afford the president the same protections?

Republican congressmen surely have a legitimate gripe about the secret hearings the Impeachment Committees have been holding. Republican committee members who are supposed to be able to attend the hearings are deliberately given the wrong room number and then they have to spend 10+ hours with other Republican committee members in an empty room wondering where the real hearings are being held. Some of these "special" Republicans have suffered extreme hardship such as becoming dehydrated because they didn't have drinks in the room, or having to pee in their pants because they couldn't find a restroom. Look, the first couple of times they were given the wrong room number may have been a joke by their Democratic counterparts, but by the 8th or 10th time, it is just cruel. Several Republican congressmen even spent the night in the wrong room because nobody told them that the hearings were done for that day.
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#14095 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-October-26, 07:11

View Postcherdano, on 2019-October-26, 00:03, said:

I thought the marching orders are to complain about the process? After all, given that every criminal investigation must be carried out completely inthe open, and the police must allow a suspect's lawyer to participate in every witness interview - it's right there in the constitution, right? - surely we should afford the president the same protections?

Federal District Judge Beryl Howell effectively ended the process argument: NYT


Quote

A federal judge handed a victory to House Democrats on Friday when she ruled that they were legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a decision that undercut President Trump’s arguments that the investigation is a sham....

....And in a rebuke to the Trump administration, she wrote that the White House strategy to stonewall the House had actually strengthened lawmakers’ case. She cited Mr. Trump’s vow to fight “all” congressional subpoenas and an extraordinary directive by his White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, that executive branch officials should not provide testimony or documents to impeachment investigators.


Her ruling also requires the DOJ to turn over all Grand Jury material, and she makes a point to stress that an impeachment inquiry is a judicial process so rule 6(e) is satisfied.
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#14096 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-26, 08:55

The boundary between fiction and reality is becoming blurred for me. I'm pretty sure it was kenberg's congressman who said "We have smoking gun sitting on top of smoking gun at this point. And there is no alternative story". But did Adam Schiff really say "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the secure room!"?
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#14097 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-October-26, 11:59

View Posty66, on 2019-October-26, 08:55, said:

The boundary between fiction and reality is becoming blurred for me. I'm pretty sure it was kenberg's congressman who said "We have smoking gun sitting on top of smoking gun at this point. And there is no alternative story". But did Adam Schiff really say "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the secure room!"?


I think it was, "There's no scuffling in the SCIF room!"

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#14098 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-October-26, 13:50

From Alan Rappeport at NYT:

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WASHINGTON — The United States federal budget deficit jumped 26 percent in the 2019 fiscal year to $984 billion, reaching its highest level in seven years as the government was forced to borrow more money to pay for President Trump’s tax and spending policies, official figures showed on Friday.

The deficit has now swelled nearly 50 percent since Mr. Trump took office and it is projected to top $1 trillion in 2020. It did not hit $1 trillion in fiscal 2019, which ended Sept. 30, but that was largely the result of Mr. Trump’s tariffs on trading partners like China, which brought in more than $70 billion in revenue.

The grim fiscal scorecard shows how far the Republican Party, under Mr. Trump, has strayed from conservative orthodoxy, which long prioritized less spending and lower deficits. After years of railing against federal spending while President Barack Obama was in office, Republicans have largely followed the president’s lead in cutting budget deals with Democrats that have increased overall government spending.

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#14099 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2019-October-26, 15:40

View Posty66, on 2019-October-26, 13:50, said:

In republican culture, love means never having to say you're sorry for being a hypocrite.

I think history shows that conservative orthodoxy is only for less spending and lower deficits when a Democrat sits in the White House. As far as I know no Republican President in my lifetime has reduced the US national debt (by any measure) even when holding majorities in both Houses.
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#14100 User is offline   PassedOut 

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Posted 2019-October-26, 16:22

View PostZelandakh, on 2019-October-26, 15:40, said:

I think history shows that conservative orthodoxy is only for less spending and lower deficits when a Democrat sits in the White House. As far as I know no Republican President in my lifetime has reduced the US national debt (by any measure) even when holding majorities in both Houses.

After WWII, every administration, republican or democrat, lowered the debt as a percentage of GDP, until Reagan took over in 1980. Starting with Reagan, republicans have made fiscal irresponsibility a key part of their governing principles whenever they take power. I think that a good part of that calculation has to do with maintaining an appeal to a large base of (basically) financially irresponsible people as well as to a smaller, but very wealthy, group of financial predators. To the other segments of the republican base, the racists and anti-abortion crusaders, fiscal irresponsibility does not matter enough either way to swing their votes.

I confess that, as a conservative myself, I at first believed that Reagan would run a fiscally responsible administration. I soon learned what a mistake that was!
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