Open Thread: Trump Prepares to Pay Off His Donors

The President-Asterisk may have a long history of cheating the people who work for him, but he’s not gonna stiff the people he works for

Via Joy-Ann Reid, from the Daily Beast, “Trump Just Declared Open Season on Suckers“:

If the 2016 election was a national litmus test to see just how many suckers live in this country, the next round of President Trump’s executive orders are going to make sure those millions of suckers are taken for every last penny…

One of Trump’s two executive orders today calls for a review of Dodd-Frank Law, a rule that was put in place in the thick of the recession of the aughts. It was supposed to be the law that represented the lessons we’d learned from the 2008-2009 financial crash. Lessons, one would hope, that would have lasted more than the average run of a successful sitcom.

At Dodd-Frank’s inception, this country was experiencing the most dire financial crisis since the Great Depression. Overzealous financial institutions had created and traded billions in securities made of underlying assets-—mortgages and credit-related products—that were valued based on wildly quixotic assessments of consumer creditworthiness. It wasn’t until these credit-backed products had become major components of massive portfolios, like pensions and hedge funds, that anybody realized that they were essentially valueless. The markets took a nosedive, Bear Stearns went ass-up, Lehman was shuttered, Merrill was sold. The American taxpayer subsidized all of it…

Trump’s other Executive Order is more insidious, somehow, than “doing a number” (his words) on Dodd-Frank. The President is planning on ordering the Labor Department to roll back the Obama administration’s “fiduciary rule,” which was supposed to take effect this April.

The rule would have required brokers and agents who manage retirement accounts to provide advice to their clients based on what would be best for the clients, rather than what’s suitable. This means that if a broker is considering two suitable investment vehicles for clients, but one makes him a fat commission and the other doesn’t but has slightly better prospects for the consumer, there’s nothing stopping him from pushing the client in the direction of the one that earns the commission. As long as they’re both “suitable.” …

With the number of people reaching retirement age growing by the year, these two moves by Team Trump are troubling signs of what might be to come. Thanks to the fact that many Americans who are now approaching retirement age entered adulthood when it was possible for young people to buy homes, many of them have spent decades passively amassing wealth as the value of their homes swelled. Their retirement accounts have more than recovered from the market troughs of 2008 and 2009. They’ve got more money than they’ve ever had, which means they’re more vulnerable to be fleeced than they’ve ever been….



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: You Knew Trump Was A Snake When You Pressed Him to Your Bosoms

President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees and other foreigners has significantly deepened fissures in his already fragile relationship with congressional Republicans, as GOP leaders on Capitol Hill complained angrily Monday that they were not consulted before the order was issued.

At least a dozen key GOP lawmakers and aides said Trump’s order took them by surprise, even as the White House insisted that it collaborated with Congress. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s political team sought to reassure donors and other supporters that the temporary ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries does not amount to a “religious test.” And a steady stream of Republican lawmakers released carefully tailored written statements expressing concerns about the order…

The disarray over Trump’s fulfillment of a core campaign promise underscored the increasingly strained relationship between the new White House and the Republican congressional majority. It comes after a rocky first week-and-a-half punctuated by confusion over health care and tax reform, as well as frustration with the president obsessing over crowd size and his loss of the popular vote in November…

Not that they’re liable to do anything useful, like stand up to some of Trump’s more egregious appointments, but hey: REPUBS IN DISARRAY!

Even the godsdamned kids are whining to Vanity Fair — the magazine that originated the “Trump, short-fingered vulgarian” meme, back in the 1980s!

Little more than a week into the Trump presidency, the timing of the Friday sunset seems to be growing increasingly important. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and West Wing adviser, has been positioned as something of a mollifying presence upon his mercurial boss. “I have a feeling that Jared’s going to do a great job. He’s going to do a great job. You’ll work with him,” Trump recently declared at his pre-inaugural gala to assorted well-wishers and friends from the business community. In a White House split between those seemingly loyal to the Republican Party (Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the R.N.C., now Trump’s chief of staff), and its rabid base (Breitbart chairman turned chief strategist Stephen Bannon), Kushner appeared to be a Valerie Jarrett type—a steady familiar voice who could suss out the signal from the noise.

Kushner, along with his wife, Ivanka Trump, is also an orthodox Jew who observes Shabbat. From sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday, the couple abstains from technology and work. And early in the incipient Trump administration, that brief period has been unusually fraught…
Read more



One More Thing: I Do Dare Call It Treason

There’s no way to parse what happened in the few weeks before the election without recognizing that both FBI director Comey and Senate Majority Leader McConnell effectively colluded with Russia to throw this election.

hanged-men-pittura-infamante-andrea-del-sarto-6c

Comey can’t not have known about the Russia connection to the emails, and yet chose to violate policy, precedent and explicit advice from Justice in his email letter ten days before the vote.

McConnell was specifically briefed on Russia’s efforts to influence the election, and he pressured (successfully, alas) the Obama administration to withhold that information from the public.

Both of them made choices that directly enabled Putin’s efforts.  Both of them knew, to a virtual certainty, that this was the case.

Both of them are in my view traitors — both to our country as it is now, and to the idea of a representative democracy America is supposed to embody.

And one more one more thing: Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, is Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary. It is unconfirmed at this time that this is payment for services rendered.  It would, however, be irresponsible not to speculate.

Image: Andrea del Sarto, Study for a “Shame Painting” — In Italy, this form of execution was associated w. traitors. Before 1530.



A thousand and one posts

Wow, that last post was my 1,000th post here at Balloon Juice. I was not expecting that when I first got started here.

I’ve been a Balloon Juice reader and primarily a lurker since before the Cole Conversion time. Over the summer of 2013, I saw a lot of good questions about the ACA and how it would effect our community. I got in touch with a front-pager I know in real life and asked if I could write a couple of posts to answer a couple of questions. He e-mailed John and John gave me the keys to this place. I figured that I would twenty to thirty thousand words in forty or fifty posts and then I would be done.

Over the past three years, I have eight hundred or more health insurance posts with about half a million words written.

That was a slight miscalculation.

I’ve rediscovered how much I like to write about a subject that I like. Every day I get to answer a question, explore something that I heard something about but now need to explain, or advocate for a slightly better world with tweaks to the current policy universe. I’ve been able to point people in the right direction when they are getting screwed over. We’ve been able to go through complicated choice structures to get community members taken care of when they know they need to do something but do not know what they have to do.

At the same time, my education has deepened as the community here and a second community of wonks, advocates and researchers. If I need to know about anti-trust law, I have a couple of world class experts who share their time with me. If I need to know more about Medicare, I can talk to people who are on it, I can talk with CMS techno-wonks, and national level advocates. If I need to learn more accounting, there are plenty of people who will share their knowledge and expertise with me.

I never thought I would have written here for more than a couple of months. But between all of you, the community and John’s amazing ability to let things flow, I am more energized than I ever thought I would be a thousand posts ago.



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Serves the Man Right

trump has ryan in fetal position luckovich

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
.

Universally respected commentor LAMH, last night:

Well, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver won his primary last night, for all the joy it’ll bring him:

JANESVILLE, Wis. — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) reveled in the aftermath of his commanding and expected primary victory Tuesday against Paul Nehlen, a Donald Trump-inspired opponent, by ordering cheese curds and beer for his supporters.

But Ryan’s celebration will be brief, with the skirmish only the latest in this tempest of a year for a Republican Party churning between Ryan’s traditional conservatism and Trump’s flaring populism…

A self-described “movement conservative” whose politics are rooted in the tax-cutting platforms of Republicans past, Ryan has been uneasy from the start about parts of Trump’s candidacy and especially its tenets on trade and immigration.

Nonetheless, the GOP’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee has swallowed hard and endorsed Trump, intent on stitching together his party where possible as he labors to get voters to notice “A Better Way,” the six-pronged policy outline he crafted and unveiled earlier this year, which has proposals to reform poverty programs and cut federal spending…

Deadbeat Donald is spoiling Pauly’s Ayn Rand wet dreams of slashing social services for Those People while providing additional tax relief to America’s Makers. And the godsdamned circus barker isn’t even gonna win!…

Apart from another tasty schadenfreude breakfast, what’s on the agenda for the day?



A LITERAL Shitshow

Valued commenter LAO submits for our consideration a report of a norovirus outbreak at the RNC:

A handful of Republican staff members in Cleveland for the GOP convention were reported to be suffering Tuesday from a possible norovirus infection.

And if there are a few people with norovirus, it’s likely there will be more.

Norovirus, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is a massively contagious and unpleasant but usually non-life-threatening ailment that turns cruise ships into giant vomit-filled shit canoes.

If Uday and Qusay Trump appear on stage tonight and open their mouths to sing their horrid racist father’s praises but instead emit twin streams of projectile vomit while simultaneously shitting their pants, I will reconsider my lifelong atheism.

Open thread!



Talk me down…

trumpster fire

Trump’s not going to blow this thing, is he? The campaign manager’s arrest. The massive abortion gaffe and walk-back. The foolishness about nuclear proliferation. It’s been a bad week.

I’m afraid he’s going to flame out before clinching the nomination, paving the way for the GOP to nominate someone who can impersonate a sane person more convincingly.

Trump’s got this thing, right? Right?!?!?!?