Things I Did Not Know: Mercer-nary Objectives?

We were all, understandably, agog yesterday over Robert Mercer’s sudden decision to step down from his hedge fund (and also cut Breitbart loose). But I was working my ADD-addled way through the tweetstreams late at night, and read for the first time about Mr. Mercer’s disagreements with the IRS:

Suddenly, the government’s seven-year pursuit of Renaissance Technologies LLC is blanketed in political intrigue, now that the hedge fund’s reclusive, anti-establishment co-chief executive, Robert Mercer, has morphed into a political force who might be owed a big presidential favor.

With Trump in the Oval Office, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, who has become his public voice, seem armed with political firepower every which way you look – and that’s even though presidential adviser Stephen Bannon, their former senior executive and political strategist, appears to have recently lost influence.

Since the IRS found in 2010 that a complicated banking method used by Renaissance and about 10 other hedge funds was a tax-avoidance scheme, Mercer has gotten increasingly active in politics. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, he doled out more than $22 million to outside conservative groups seeking to influence last year’s elections, while advocating the abolition of the IRS and much of the federal government.

The Mercer Family Foundation, run by Rebekah Mercer, also has donated millions of dollars to conservative nonprofit groups that have called for the firing of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, an Obama administration holdover whose five-year term expires in November…

IRS leader Koskinen has said publicly that he intends to finish his term. On his watch, the agency hasn’t been cowed by the Mercers.

The IRS recently released a little-noticed advisory stating that its top targets in future business audits will include so-called “basket options,” the instruments that Renaissance and some other hedge funds have used to convert short-term capital gains to long-term profits that have lower tax rates…

More detail from an Oct. 27 Bloomberg article:

Members of the Internal Revenue Service’s Office of Appeals are scheduled to meet with lawyers for Renaissance in New York on Nov. 7, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The meeting kicks off a review by an independent branch of the tax agency and suggests a resolution may be years away.

Although the dollar amount at issue has never been made public, Senate investigators estimated that Renaissance employees may have pocketed about $6.8 billion through what a bipartisan panel in 2014 called an “abusive” tax shelter. Renaissance executives maintain the transactions at issue were within the law and weren’t driven by tax savings…

Trump named David Kautter to become acting IRS commissioner after the term of John Koskinen, an appointee of Barack Obama, expires Nov. 12. Kautter doesn’t require Senate confirmation. Rootstrikers, a group critical of the Trump administration, began a petition drive Friday opposing the Kautter appointment, calling it an “end run around the Senate” that “could lead to a massive payback for billionaire Trump donor Robert Mercer.”…

At the heart of the tax case is the Medallion Fund, open only to Renaissance employees, which has posted 40 percent annualized returns over a period of almost three decades.

Funds like Medallion that make frequent trades generate mostly short-term capital gains for investors, taxed at the same rate as salary. The tax code rewards investments of a year or more with a preferential, lower rate on long-term capital gains.

Beginning in 2000, Renaissance routed some Medallion investments through special options it purchased from banks. The options were tied to the value of securities held by the banks but bought and sold on Renaissance’s orders. Since the fund held the options for more than a year, it claimed long-term capital gains income on those profits, cutting its investors’ taxes roughly in half.

The IRS learned of the practice in 2008. It issued a memorandum in 2010 describing the transaction without mentioning Renaissance by name and notified field staff that it wouldn’t pass legal muster. Banks stopped offering versions of the option with tax advantages, and Renaissance exited its last such option contract in 2013…

To my admittedly inexpert eye, it seems like Mercer was pursuing a standard foot-dragging campaign to defend its legal-enough-if-nobody-looked-too-close anti-tax maneuvers — just another battle in the Long War against Big Gubmint — and nobody paid much attention, until suddenly his fair-haired boy Bannon was squatting in the Oval Office. Even business reporters have trouble finding interesting details in a years-long squabble between two sets of high-dollar lawyers, but a nice juicy BILLIONAIRE FUNDS NAZIS, SAVES $7BILLION is quite another lede.

Politico:

In recent weeks, several investors in Renaissance Technologies had come under pressure from a liberal group that said it was opposed to racist news sites, and which was pushing them to pull their money out of the hedge fund.

The group, called Sleeping Giants, targeted Michigan State University and other pension funds invested in Renaissance, seeking to tie their investments with Mercer’s own in Breitbart and Yiannopolous — and, by extension, with white nationalism and bigotry.

The campaign took off after the liberal news site Think Progress published a list of investors in the hedge fund, including Columbia University, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It resembled similar, successful campaigns against former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who was ultimately pulled off the air after left-wing organizers targeted his advertisers.

The 71-year-old Mercer said he will depart the Renaissance leadership effective Jan. 1.

Hell, who knows what’ll be going on in the White House by then? As the old story ends: I might die, or the king might die — or maybe the horse will talk!

I’ve always gotten the impression that Bob was perfectly happy to putter along under the radar, quanting up the dollars and sharing his “a person is only as valuable as his net worth” philosophy with employees required by contract to nod along. It seems like Rebekah is the one who desperately wants to be in the room where it happens — to be recognized as someone, a Power in her own right, not just another Ivanka or Megan McCain. Gonna be interesting to see which is more important to the guy with his hand on the bank books…

119 replies
  1. 1
    satby says:

    They bought themselves a president. If course they expect payback.

  2. 2
    Humboldtblue says:

    So wait, there’s a Race War scheduled for tomorrow and nobody told me?

    What do you wear to a Race War?

  3. 3
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Mercer owes $7 billion and is walking around a free man? This is absolutely incredible. How many folks go to jail for owing much less to the IRS? I’m thinking of several Black actors and entertainers who have been arrested for failing to pay taxes.

  4. 4
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Well, they know Bob’s good for it! (/snark)

  5. 5
    germy says:

    What if they threw a race war and nobody showed up?

  6. 6
    Aimai says:

    @Patricia Kayden: its a little complicated. I think the investors owe the money since it is taxes they would have paid.

  7. 7
    germy says:

    I don’t understand:

    “I can’t in good conscience keep funding this white supremacist stuff, so I’m handing it over to my daughters, who are just fine with it.” ?

  8. 8
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    quanting up the dollars and sharing his “a person is only as valuable as his net worth” philosophy with employees required by contract to nod along.

    I am sure this is the “freedom of speech” Mercer is talking about; the freedom for everyone shut up and appreciate the wisdom of his awesomeness.

  9. 9
    rikyrah says:

    @satby:

    They bought themselves a president. If course they expect payback.

    TELL IT!!!

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    @satby: Case settled for $45.

  11. 11
    beef says:

    Mercer doesn’t own RenTec, and he isn’t the largest shareholder in their Medallion Fund. Investors in the Medallion fund may be collectively on the line for $7B in back taxes. (Last time I checked, the IRS hadn’t actually made a final decision on that.) Mercer’s on the hook for a portion of that, but probably for 5-10% of the total.

  12. 12
    kindness says:

    Isn’t it always a ‘Follow the money’ proposition with Republican Daddies?

  13. 13
    germy says:

    There was a time (years ago) when I’d tune in to the PBS News Hour as a contrast to the shitty network news.

    Last night one of their reporters did a segment on the GOP tax plan. Said “everyone would see a tax break, with millionaires being unaffected.”

    I think we’re done.

  14. 14
    germy says:

    Today, the party that wants to ban abortion announced its intention to end the adoption tax credit.— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) November 3, 2017

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    @beef: Thank you for the info.

  16. 16
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    They are who we they were all along.

  17. 17
    MomSense says:

    Follow. The. Money.

    It’s always money. Well sometimes it’s sex but even then it’s often about money.

  18. 18
    Immanentize says:

    This House tax plan — is it even a bill yet? — is so hideous on so many fronts, I cannot imagine how they think they can pass it, and if they do, how it will pass in the Senate, and if it does, how they expect to keep their jobs.

  19. 19
    mai naem mobile says:

    So he owes the IRS more than successful billionaire bidnessman Dolt45 is worth.

  20. 20
    Matt says:

    @germy: Entirely consistent, given that that party believes children are Gawd’s punishment for women wanting or enjoying sex.

  21. 21
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @beef: So basically Mercer volunteered his investors to take a brave stand against the Collectivist State. Yes, I can see why Ren Tech BOD fired him now. Politics and race are one thing, money is another.

  22. 22
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Humboldtblue: Black or white but never both.

  23. 23
    Immanentize says:

    @MomSense:

    It’s always (about the) money. Well sometimes it’s sex but even then it’s often about money

    it’s a corollary to Ozark H’s law that they only tell the truth in service to a lie.

  24. 24
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Immanentize:

    This House tax plan — is it even a bill yet? — is so hideous on so many fronts, I cannot imagine how they think they can pass it, and if they do, how it will pass in the Senate, and if it does, how they expect to keep their jobs.

    I some times wonder is that the idea; their donnars want the impossible, so the Reps are letting their freak flag fly, the senate gets the blame for the failure, the Dems take over in 2020 and the Republicans go back to voting no on everything and collecting their donations like in the good old days with Obama.

  25. 25
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @beef: From above:

    At the heart of the tax case is the Medallion Fund, open only to Renaissance employees, which has posted 40 percent annualized returns over a period of almost three decades.

    So it’s not the investors on the hook, it’s the employees.

  26. 26
    MomSense says:

    @Immanentize:

    This House tax plan — is it even a bill yet? — is so hideous on so many fronts, I cannot imagine how they think they can pass it, and if they do, how it will pass in the Senate, and if it does, how they expect to keep their jobs.

    How do they expect to keep their jobs? This is the thing that has me spooked especially since finding out that the servers for the GA elections systems were wiped immediately after a lawsuit was filed about the Ossoff special election. There’s also the small problem of continued Russian interference that hasn’t been addressed by the trump administration. I’m not usually one for tin foil hats (not a good color on me) but the Republicans are not behaving as if they expect to be held accountable at the voting booth.

  27. 27
    germy says:

    @Matt: “I’m not a choice! I’m a punishment!”

  28. 28
    Immanentize says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: The whole Milo funding defensiveness is just plain weird. I know that there is some question of Milo being involved is organized harassment and perhaps therefore RICO wire crimes. Maybe Mercer is on the emails? One can only hope.

  29. 29
    MattF says:

    So, Mercer’s ‘Center for Responsive Politics’ is named accurately. As long as ‘Responsive’ is defined correctly.

    ETA: Looks like Center for Responsive Politics are good guys. My bad.

  30. 30
    MomSense says:

    Not sure WTF happened above with the block quote. It’s like a Russian doll of block quotes. Another reason not to wear tin foil–weird stuff happens whenever I do.

  31. 31
    Chyron HR says:

    @Immanentize:

    I cannot imagine […] how they expect to keep their jobs.

    On November 5, 2018, Senator Warren will go on CNN and announce that Democratic Party is run by white slavers. Whoops!

  32. 32
    germy says:

    great comment about Mercer over at LGM:

    JMP • 13 hours ago

    “I am shocked, shocked to find that my bankrolling of actual neo-Nazis has lead to public scrutiny and criticism of myself, so I’m going to distance myself from them and try and escape from the spotlight to go back to being a shadowy financier and let my daughter who seems to welcome attention take on the work of supporting a fascist white supremacist takeover of America.”

  33. 33
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MomSense: It causes dandruff too.

  34. 34
    Immanentize says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Dammit! I thought it cured dandruff!! (Taking off hat, brushing off flakes).

  35. 35
    rikyrah says:

    funny comment:

    Darksnark
    Actually, Trump reminds me of Fredo; just sitting in the Oval Office waiting for Mueller to take him on a fishing trip….

  36. 36
    MomSense says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Immanentize:

    Ha! Imm, theywant you to think it cures dandruff.

  37. 37
    satby says:

    When the right wing bleats about going back to the good old days and making America great again, let’s agree with them and say we should start by returning to the tax rates that were in place during the Eisenhower administration.

  38. 38
    PIGL says:

    Wait, what? 40% annual returns for years on end? In an “insiders only” fund? everyone involved should be in jail, The only way that happens is by systematic looting on an impressive scale.

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    @germy:

    UH HUH
    UH HUH

    The peasants actually have the nerve to comment on MY actions.

  40. 40
    germy says:

    Rebekah wasn’t a regular presence at Trump Tower. She preferred working from her apartment in Trump Place, which was in fact six separate apartments that she and her husband had combined into an opulent property more than twice the size of Gracie Mansion. Still, it quickly became clear to her new colleagues that she wasn’t content just to chip in with ideas. She wanted decision-making power.

    To her peers on the executive committee, she supported Alabama senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and General Michael Flynn for national security adviser, but argued against naming Mitt Romney secretary of state. Her views on these matters were heard, according to several people on and close to the transition leadership. Rebekah was less successful when she lobbied hard for John Bolton, the famously hawkish former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to be deputy secretary of state. And when Bolton was not named to any position, she made her displeasure known.

    “I know it sounds sexist, but she was whiny as hell,” says one person who watched her operate. Almost everyone interviewed for this article, supporters and detractors alike, described her style as far more forceful than that of other powerful donors.

    source

  41. 41
    GregB says:

    Milo is a bigger piece of the Trump/wingnut puzzle than most think.

    He was a Bannon protege. Flynn was a fanboy.

    There was a post election tour he was booked to do, and I think it was to help stir up unrest.

    I think the plan was some sort of mass unrest that they could use for crackdown/emergency powers.

  42. 42

    @GregB: Apparently M was on an O-1 visa. That’s the temporary work visa for a person with extraordinary ability. I wonder who his sponsor was.

  43. 43
    germy says:

    Is Bob Mercer's resignation real, or just a PR feint, to assuage these investors? https://t.co/CGOil0vRSa via @thinkprogress— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) November 2, 2017

  44. 44
    rikyrah says:

    Do you think that Attorney General White Citizens Council can hear the bus coming for him?

    BWA HA HA HA H HA HA HA H AH HA HA HA

    THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW 11/2/17
    Schumer on Sessions Russia testimony: Perjury would be looked at
    Senator Chuck Schumer talks with Rachel Maddow about Jeff Sessions’ ever-evolving story about contacts with Russia, and protecting Robert Mueller’s Trump Russia investigation from Trump supporters who would derail it.

    THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW 11/2/17
    Carter Page says he told Jeff Sessions about Russia trip
    Rachel Maddow reports late breaking news that Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page says he told Jeff Sessions about his trip to Russia, exposing Sessions for having told the Senate he wasn’t aware of any such contact

  45. 45
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @PIGL: Yep.

  46. 46
    germy says:

    So I see David Corn is the latest to be investigated for sexual misconduct in the workplace.

    (Of course this is being most widely reported on RW news sites, as a “gotcha libs!” story)

  47. 47
    rikyrah says:

    @germy:

    thanks for this.

    Uh huh
    Uh huh

  48. 48
    Jeffro says:

    Folks here is your Friday funny – without trying to be humorous or intentionally ironic, my RWNJ dad sent me the following:

    Donna B. just put another nail in Clinton Inc. Now I look for claw backs, IRS investigations and civil suits. On another matter Paul M. appears to be a real self serving slime.

    Sad that when you think it can not go lower the Clintons set a new bottom.

    Yes, really. The mind boggles.

    But perhaps the problem is me: when I think of “IRS investigations, civil suits, ‘self-serving slime’, and going lower/setting a new bottom”…well…Not-President Clinton is not really high on the list of people who come to mind.

  49. 49
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Timing.

    This happens just 8 days after it emerges that the Mercers were trying to get Clinton’s emails from Assange and only 3 days after Mueller drops a bombshell.

    It can’t all just be a coincidence.

  50. 50
    Citizen_X says:

    @PIGL: That’s what I thought when I read it. How the hell is 40% annually possible? Insider trading?

  51. 51
    rikyrah says:

    @MomSense:

    Follow. The. Money.

    It’s always money. Well sometimes it’s sex but even then it’s often about money.

    The money doesn’t lie. The money tells the cold, unemotional truth.

  52. 52
    TS says:

    It would seem the love of money is the root of all evil – how can any person have millions/billions and then want to pay less tax while those earning $25K per annum can’t even afford somewhere to live – the absolute greed and horror of these people is well beyond my understanding.

  53. 53
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    @Citizen_X: Madoff used a ponzi scheme

  54. 54
    rikyrah says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch:

    Timing.

    This happens just 8 days after it emerges that the Mercers were trying to get Clinton’s emails from Assange and only 3 days after Mueller drops a bombshell.

    It can’t all just be a coincidence.

    The data road leads to Kushner and The Mercers.
    And Mueller is coming……

  55. 55
  56. 56
    TS says:

    @Citizen_X:

    That’s what I thought when I read it. How the hell is 40% annually possible? Insider trading?

    Sounds like a ponzi scheme to me – when interest rates are close to zero and we are not long recovered from a market and real estate crash – 40% p.a. sounds very dicey.

  57. 57
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jeffro: Ask your father how many indictments Hillary is under.

  58. 58
    But her emails!!! says:

    Wait, what? 40% annual returns for years on end? In an “insiders only” fund? everyone involved should be in jail, The only way that happens is by systematic looting on an impressive scale.

    It’s theoretically possible. I mean the S&P 500 itself is on a roll since the bottom of the recession, just managing to leverage that could get you a theoretical 40% average return rate over the last several years.

    But yeah, there is almost some form or forms of fraud being perpetrated here. The only questions are 1. which type(s) of fraud, 2. who is being defrauded and 3. is it technically legal?

  59. 59
    JR says:

    @germy: you know what .. fuck him. Time for this bullshit to stop. Not a partisan issue.

  60. 60
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @TS: It’s beyond dicey, it’s thoroughly cooked.

  61. 61
    JR says:

    @Citizen_X: it is not. Within 10 years you would have 30x your principal. Not even Madoff could pull that.

  62. 62
    Bill Arnold says:

    @germy:
    Thank you for that link to the march huffpo piece on the mercers. Had not seen it; interesting (multiple levels).

  63. 63
    germy says:

    @Bill Arnold: It’s rather chilling.

  64. 64
    Chip Daniels says:

    When has Trump ever paid a debt?

  65. 65
    GregB says:

    Wittes has a great tweet thread anout Trump tweeting out his frustration at being unable to corrupt the FBI by ordering investigations into Hillary.

    He’s essentially digging his corruption hole deeper with every tweet.

  66. 66
    Jack the Second says:

    @MomSense: Money, power, sex … and elephants.

  67. 67
    gvg says:

    I had only ever heard about Rebeka Mercer so when Robert said he was selling to his daughters, plural I did a little google search. Jennifer (Jenji) is older. Has a law degree from Georgetown and loves horses. I didn’t find much because her name is too common for google. Rebeka is the middle one who bought 3 floors in Trump tower in 2010, has 4 kids with a Frenchman and apparently doesn’t use his name. She is considered to be influenced by Bannon and may be the reason her father didn’t just sell Breitbart. Youngest is Heather Sue who is most known for the Duke University female kicker lawsuit and I didn’t watch it closely at the time but my impression is it was valid. Since then she a securities trader but mostly now does high stakes poker, successfully. Robert does poker too. the sisters own an on line cookie business together. I didn’t pick up any idea about the other 2’s political opinions but it was just a quick search.
    Robert is a brilliant flake who has advocated for the gold standard, is anti civil rights laws, supported Brexit, anti Federal reserve, anti Clinton and is clearly racist.
    My understanding is that Renaisance has multiple funds, the headliner is the one that is employee only with the big returns that are suspicious but they have others with more normal returns who aren’t so suspicious. Some other stories have made reference to state pension plans being involved and trying to force divestment but I think those are different funds.

  68. 68
    Jack the Second says:

    @JR: To be fair, some investment opportunities give fantastic returns on your investment but have limited total potential. So you have a mis-pricing between two markets, you need X dollars to exploit it, and you get 1.4 X out. But if you push 2 X into it, you only get 2.4 X out.

    This isn’t precisely uncommon, and is the “step 1” in how a lot of investment companies blow up. First, they find a real opportunity with fantastic returns, then either their own stake begins to exceed the potential of the investment or other investors notice the opportunity to the same effect and the returns begin to diminish. Next, they start flailing for new opportunities, to maintain their returns and their status, which are riskier than the first, and almost inevitably blow up, costing everyone a lot of money.

    Or, you know, they were doing something illegal, and the fantastic returns stem from that.

  69. 69
  70. 70
    catclub says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    So it’s not the investors on the hook, it’s the employees.

    Those employees are about the world’s richest set of employees. I have very few crocodile tears for them.

  71. 71
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @catclub: They have a really good union.

  72. 72
    Amir Khalid says:

    @GregB:
    There’s a thing about the Presidency that Trump doesn’t understand and never will: POTUS is not the boss of America, America is the boss of POTUS.

  73. 73
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jack the Second: You forgot the hedgehogs.

  74. 74
    JR says:

    @Jack the Second: I mean, there are certainly a handful of public investments that would yield >40% annualized yield over a ten year period. I mean, if you bought Apple in the iPod era you are certainly sitting pretty today. But that’s exceedingly rare. Of course the opportunity to make that kind of return as a venture capital investor is even greater but then again the risks are catastrophic.

  75. 75
    catclub says:

    @MomSense:

    This House tax plan — is it even a bill yet? — is so hideous on so many fronts, I cannot imagine how they think they can pass it, and if they do, how it will pass in the Senate?

    1) It sure seems that it will all have to sunset after ten years to pass reconciliation.

    2) I think the piece at Slate ‘The bill wins if it is not dead on first day’, has some merit. This bill cuts taxes by $1.5tr ( at least) over ten years – at a time when the economy is the best it has been in about ten years – so blowing up budget deficits in the good times. The fact that nobody (but me and Andrew Tobias) is making any noise about increasing deficits during good times means they have already won the primary argument. This is exactly similar to the 2001 Bush tax cuts, except there is no present budget surplus.

  76. 76
    Ridnik Chrome says:

    @JR: Here’s a Politico article on the allegations against Corn. They seem relatively minor compared with those against Halperin and Wieseltier. Inappropriate non-sexual touching and some insensitive comments (not quoted) about sexual violence. Article also quotes Mother Jones CEO and E-in-C who say Corn was spoken to about it a couple of years ago and has been making an effort to be better.

    (Edited for clarity.)

  77. 77
  78. 78
    PST says:

    Even though Mercer doesn’t owe the whole $7 billion, if the IRS finds against him, the folks who owe the other $6.5 billion are likely to be annoyed. He’d better hope they aren’t Russian oligarchs, but with this crowd, who else would they be?

  79. 79
    rikyrah says:

    @GregB:

    Wittes has a great tweet thread anout Trump tweeting out his frustration at being unable to corrupt the FBI by ordering investigations into Hillary.

    got a link?

  80. 80
    rikyrah says:

    @PST:

    Even though Mercer doesn’t owe the whole $7 billion, if the IRS finds against him, the folks who owe the other $6.5 billion are likely to be annoyed. He’d better hope they aren’t Russian oligarchs, but with this crowd, who else would they be?

    God doesn’t love me enough to have Robert Mercer on the hook to the tune of $6.5 Billion to Russian gangsters.

  81. 81
    Jeffro says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: He’d just tell me Trumpov isn’t under indictment at the moment either.

    I didn’t even respond to the Clinton-bait, just asked that he consider where such his strong, recurring hate and fear of her comes from, and then reflect on who – or what ‘news’ organization, say – might be pushing his fear and hate buttons all day every day, the better to manipulate him.

    I figure I’ve messed up the better part of his day. ;)

  82. 82
    rikyrah says:

    THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW 11/2/17
    Schumer: GOP tax bill stinks like a dead fish
    Senator Chuck Schumer talks with Rachel Maddow about the problems he sees in the new Republican tax bill, the right wing’s faux concern about deficits, and the GOP’s twisted idea of bipartisanship.

    THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW 11/2/17
    Schumer: Trump hurts country seeking political gain in tragedy
    Senator Chuck Schumer talks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trump attacking him on immigration in the immediate aftermath of the terror attack in New York City.

  83. 83

    @catclub: they sunset a lot of the things that help working families after five and ten years and rely on a lot of trickle down voodoo and magic asterisks, according to an article I read this morning in maybe NYT or WaPo.

  84. 84
    rikyrah says:

    11/2/17
    Lawrence: Sessions hits perjury trip wires with new revelations
    The New York Times reports Trump and Sessions heard firsthand that George Papadopoulos was trying to set up a meeting with Putin, directly contradicting Sessions’ congressional testimony. Lawrence O’Donnell says there’s evidence Sessions possibly perjured

  85. 85
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    MSNBC chyron: “Trump heading to Hawai’i en route to Asia summit”

    anybody wanna bet he doesn’t say something obnoxious about Obama?

  86. 86
    debit says:

    @rikyrah: I don’t see where “possibly” is even remotely appropriate anymore. It’s pretty clear that he did. The question is, will he actually suffer any consequences?

  87. 87
    J R in WV says:

    @But her emails!!!:

    I hate to admit it, but the stock market has gone from 8,000 (DJI) to 23,000+ in 9 years or so… so a really astute investor – or a group with a well-designed system running on a network of powerful servers – could have done that legally and above board.

    If you believe in Mercer’s mathamagic that is. Not sure I do, but maybe…

  88. 88
    matt says:

    So one man’s tax fraud has bankrolled the entire conservative movement for years is what I’m hearing.

  89. 89
    dogwood says:

    @Jeffro:
    As this Russian story unfolds, it will be interesting to see who Fox and the rest of the RW agitators decide to escort to the gallows, thus declaring the whole mess resolved. Sounds like your dad is ok with PM as the unlucky candidate.

  90. 90
    catclub says:

    @rikyrah:

    God doesn’t love me enough to have Robert Mercer on the hook to the tune of $6.5 Billion to Russian gangsters.

    correct. It is a Renaissance Funds employees-only fund.

    Plus they have plenty of money for accountants and lawyers, so this will get dragged out for years. and years

  91. 91
    rikyrah says:

    11/2/17
    Who gets most of the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts?
    The Trump-GOP tax cuts mostly go to big business, followed by the super-rich. Less than a fifth goes to ordinary Americans. Josh Barro and David Cay Johnston join Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss.

  92. 92
    dogwood says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:
    I’d love to see the press ask him if he’ll be looking for Obama’s birth certificate, but they won’t. He gets a pass on that and crotch grabbing now.

  93. 93
    catclub says:

    @J R in WV:

    + in 9 years or so

    But RenTech has 30 year record of doing it. They appear to have very secret sauce – highly mathematical approaches to trading and finding small advantages – it is thought.

  94. 94
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jeffro:

    I figure I’ve messed up the better part of his day. ;)

    Mission accomplished.

  95. 95
    catclub says:

    @rikyrah: This tax bill is designed with Trump in mind as prime beneficiary:
    AMT cancelled: It is known that AMT has increased Trump’s tax bill by tens of millions in one year. It is gone.
    25% pass through corps tax: Trump organization is made up of hundreds of these
    Inheritance tax cancelled. Trump heirs will make windfall gains.

    And these are the things which have been non-negotiable from the first day.

  96. 96
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Major Major Major Major: DYNAMIC SCORING!!!!

    ETA otherwise known as “cooking the books”

  97. 97
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Immanentize: It’s not impossible that Ren Tech BOD used the backlash against Milo as their excuse for asking Mercer to resign. “Nothing personal Mercer, you’ve done good for this company but you know how the Political Correct crowd hates free thinkers like you” since at that level it’s about the tongue baths.

    Or

    There is another shoe to drop, like Mercer was using Ren Tech investor money to fund Milo? Mercer comes accross as that arrogent.

  98. 98
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @rikyrah: I think Wittes tweeted about this report of the Great Orange Menace’s sorrow.

    “The saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI. …
    I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department. Well, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her, the dossier?”

    The president added that he is “very unhappy” with where the Justice Department “isn’t going. … I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing,” he said. “And I am very frustrated by it.”

  99. 99
    rikyrah says:

    VA Northam is CRUCIAL to our progress in addressing gerrymandering. If Gillespie wins, the fight for fair districting is OVER. #VOTEDEM

    — meta (@metaquest) November 3, 2017

    Virginia, find your polling placehttps://t.co/64MOve1y1W

    — meta (@metaquest) November 3, 2017

  100. 100
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @catclub: @rikyrah: This tax bill is designed with Trump in mind as prime beneficiary:

    Heh, that very thought was just going through my head. Ryan et al knew they could get trump enthusiastic– and that he can get the Deplorables who will get screwed thinking it’s a lotto win for them– if they can show him how he’ll benefit. Maybe that weird lizard brain of his can even figure it out without help.

  101. 101
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @rikyrah:

    The money doesn’t lie. The money tells the cold, unemotional truth.

    Losing money is the one unforgivable sin with the Greed is Good crowd.

  102. 102

    Here’s the start of the Wittes thread.

  103. 103
    catclub says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: and all three of those ONLY help the very rich. There is no side benefit for lower income taxpayers in those.

  104. 104
    germy says:

    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has introduced a resolution calling on Mueller to resign. Co-sponsored by GOP Reps. Andy Biggs and Louis Gohmer pic.twitter.com/G4idbEu7fo— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) November 3, 2017

  105. 105
  106. 106
    rikyrah says:

    In Asia, Trump confronts the decline of the American empire

    By Nic Robertson, CNN

    The arc of nations and their empires is an imprecise thing.

    President Trump will be reminded of this on his five-nation trip to Asia this coming week.

    He will find it not just writ large in the power of economic growth across the region, but also in the trip’s timing: he arrives as the next super power in waiting, China has just stretched its wings, revealing a plumage capable one day of carrying it to great heights.

    The Chinese Communist party conference in Beijing two weeks ago appeared to confer on President Xi, a power that could keep him in office long past expectations armed with a robust foreign policy that could allow China to significantly extend its global reach.

    Trump appeared to take note, days later reminding Americans in a TV interview, “some people might call him the King of China” clarifying himself soon after “but he is called President,” apparently acknowledging Xi as a big leader, potentially with more power than he has.

    There is no exit ramp for superpowers leaving center stage, and even if there was, Trump and quite rightly all Americans have no intention of taking it, abdicating most influential nation status.

    With such influence comes a power to shape the world’s destiny in one’s own image and to one’s needs. History, even the stuff written last week, is full of generations fighting in that struggle to keep the top spot.

  107. 107
  108. 108
    catclub says:

    speaking of things I did not know: Bitcoin helps waste energy to pump out extra CO2

    This averages out to a shocking 215 kilowatt-hours (KWh) of juice used by miners for each Bitcoin transaction (there are currently about 300,000 transactions per day). Since the average American household consumes 901 KWh per month, each Bitcoin transfer represents enough energy to run a comfortable house, and everything in it, for nearly a week.

  109. 109
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    southpaw‏ @ nycsouthpaw
    What truly blows my mind about the GOP tax proposal is they want to repeal the estate tax, but keep the stepped-up basis for the heirs.

    so… you inherit the Apple stock your parents paid $7 a share for on the day it’s worth $110, and sell it with no taxable capital gain?

  110. 110
    But her emails!!! says:

    @catclub:

    The lower income tax payer doesn’t get slammed so hard by this. It’s the upper two quartiles minus the top 5% or so that get hosed hardest by this because that’s where the money is being taken from to keep this tax plan just under the 1.5 trillion dollar cutoff. Elimination of Mortgage deductions on homes over a certain value – hits upper middle to middle rich couples. Increase in standard deductions and child credits offset things like the elimination of the state income tax deduction for lower income people, but not higher earners. Hits to 401k contributions and tax shield savings accounts for health and child care expenses impact people with the money to put in them. Working class professionals who derive their incomes from salary, not investments don’t get much of a cut. Professionals are excluded from the rate cuts for pass through entities. It’s a massive effort to soak the 50-95% to give takes brakes to the Trumps, Koch Brothers and Mercers.

    Also, any guess as to what the economic impact of hitting this last remaining relatively healthy portion of the working class with tax increases is going to be?

  111. 111
    catclub says:

    Nationwide support for Trump’s tax plan is embarrassingly low
    A new poll shows that 60 percent believe the president’s plan favors the wealthy. They’re right.

    The other 40% KNOW that it favors the wealthy? The other 40% don’t know and are idiots?

  112. 112
  113. 113
    catclub says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Yes, that is the whole point of the repeal of the inheritance tax.

    Think of the transfer of assets as income for those receiving them, but because they receive them from the estate of a dead person, we apply special rules
    (because we are idiots). So now they have received those assets – at whatever basis existed on the day of death. Capital gains relative to when the dead person bought them are irrelevant.

    I would be fine with no specific inheritance tax if the beneficiaries paid normal income tax on those benefits. Instead we tax the estate some arbitrary amount – and the beneficiaries pay no tax at all.

    ETA: Atrios makes many of these same points today.

  114. 114
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @catclub: Yes–it’s deliberately wasteful, because of its use of CPU cycles as the precious-metal-like “thing of value” that the currency is based on.

  115. 115
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @But her emails!!!: Speaking as a member of that constituency, I’d gladly take that hit to benefit the people making less money than I do, and strengthen the social safety net in case I’m ever down and out.

    Not to benefit billionaires.

  116. 116
    Boatboy_srq says:

    @Immanentize: The Congresscritters’ campaign financers want it, the Senators’campaign financers want it, they expect the voters will be distracted by something else before next November; and in any case several campaign financers have pull with broadcasters and other infotainment outlets and can create a smoke screen for them.

  117. 117
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @rikyrah: I kind of hate statements like that. Suppose this one guy does lose–and he might–what do we do then? “Oh, well, I guess democracy is over now because that one guy in Virginia lost, let’s give up and shoot ourselves.”

  118. 118
    burnspbesq says:

    @germy:

    everyone would see a tax break

    That’s absolutely, unequivocally bullshit. Took me about 90 seconds to figure out that I get hosed. The $10k cap on the deduction for state and local taxes is going to hose millions of people in affluent, high-tax blue states.

    As far as basket options are concerned, I think the IRS has the better of the argument, but there are non-frivolous technical arguments that they work. Unless the case has been designated for litigation, IRS Appeals (otherwise known to anyone who ever worked in the Office of Chief Counsel as “those assholes down the hall”) has the authority to settle the case based on its perception of the hazards of litigation (don’t get me started on how fucking stupid it is to give a bunch of non-lawyers with no trial experience the authority to assess hazards of litigation). Unless the fund digs in its heels and insists on a no-change, the case will probably settle.

  119. 119
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @catclub: Probably nobody’s reading anymore, but just in case, I ran the numbers. If DJIA is up from 8000-23000 in nine years, that’s an annualized rate of about 12%. High, but still well short of 40%. As somebody pointed out above, a 40% rate of return over 10 years turns $1000 into $30000.

    Over “decades”? Well, sustained over 20 years, that $1000 becomes $800,000. Over 30 years: $24,200,000. Over 30 years: $700,000,000.

    I suspect the reporter misunderstood the claim, or else the Mercer’s are making bullshit claims to sucker Investors who can’t do math.

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