Jeb Bush's tax plan, outlined a couple of weeks ago, is burdened by some fairly serious flaws. It is, for example, a multi-trillion package that the Republican can't pay for. It's also built on a series of trickle-down assumptions that are hard to take seriously.
But there's also the plain, political reality: in a year in which economic populism is striking a chord, the former governor is pushing a plan that disproportionately benefits the very wealthy. Fox News' Chris Wallace pressed Bush on this specific point yesterday, and pay particular attention to the Florida Republican's closing response.
WALLACE: Then there's another complaint, and that is the issue of who benefits. The Tax Foundation says the middle class would see after tax income increase 2.9 percent. But the top 1 percent would get a boost of 11.6 percent. An analysis of your tax returns for the last six years, which you have released to the public, the last six years indicates that you would save, under your tax plan, $3 million. Does Jeb Bush need a $3 million tax cut?
BUSH: Look, the benefit of this goes disproportionately to the middle class. If you look at what the middle class pays today compared to what they would pay in our tax plan --
WALLACE: But they get a 2.9 percent increase in after tax income --
BUSH: Because higher income people pay more taxes right now and proportionally, everybody will get a benefit. But proportionally, they'll pay more in with my plan than what they pay today.
WALLACE: Well, I mean, forgive me, sir, but -- but 2.9 seems like it's less than 11.6.
BUSH: The simple fact is 1 percent of people pay 40 percent of all the taxes. And so, of course, tax cuts for everybody is going to generate more for people that are paying a lot more. I mean that's just the way it is.
For Bush, the conclusion is simply unavoidable. He has no choice. To hear the GOP candidate tell it, the effects of the policy are effectively out of his hands -- Bush has to cut taxes across the board and he has to deliver the bulk of the benefits to the rich. "That's just the way it is."
The Republican presidential hopeful may hope voters find this persuasive, but to paraphrase Bruce Hornsby, who sang about those who say, "That's just the way it is," don't you believe him.
It's been about a week since Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson appeared on "Meet the Press" and said that Muslim Americans, regardless of any other consideration, should be disqualified from the presidency. In the days that followed, the retired neurosurgeon has, at different times, insisted he "meant exactly what I said" while also falsely claiming he was taken out of context.
Yesterday, CNN's Jake Tapper pressed Carson for an explanation. The back and forth between them went on for a while, but it culminated in this exchange.
TAPPER: I think one of the things is just you are a member of a church that there's a lot of misinformation about, the Seventh Day Adventist church. You know what it's like for people to make false assumptions about you. And you seem to be doing the same thing with Muslims.
CARSON: In which way am I making a false assumption?
TAPPER: You're assuming that Muslim-Americans put their religion ahead of the country.
CARSON: I'm assuming that if you accept all the tenets of Islam that you would have a very difficult time abiding under the Constitution of the United States.
TPM noted that it was around this point that a Carson adviser intervened and ended the interview.
In case that wasn't quite enough, Carson sat down with ABC's Martha Raddatz and offered up this gem in defense of anti-Muslim discrimination:
The novice White House candidates have every reason to be pleased with their current standing, but they nevertheless find themselves at a crossroads, The Amateur Trio of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina -- who, between them, have zero days of experience in public office -- have done well enough in the cycle's opening round to claim first-tier status.
And while it's challenging for any national candidate to maintain that status, it's especially difficult for someone who's literally never won an election.
For a candidate like Fiorina, the goal appears to be demonstrating -- to voters, to donors, to potential endorsers, et al -- that she's the real deal. She may have struggled badly in the private sector, and she may have failed in her only other bid for public office -- Fiorina lost a Senate campaign in 2010 in her home state by double digits -- but the Republican is eager to prove that's she's a legitimate presidential contender anyway.
Brazen dishonesty is likely to make that task far more difficult.
Carly Fiorina on Sunday stood by her disputed description of a scene from the videos targeting Planned Parenthood, but refused to say definitively that Republicans should force a government shutdown to defund the organization.
"Not at all. That scene absolutely does exist, and that voice saying what I said they were saying -- "We're gonna keep it alive to harvest its brain -- exists as well," Fiorina said on NBC's "Meet the Press." [...] In a testy exchange with host Chuck Todd, Fiorina repeatedly insisted that the practice she described "is happening."
Except, it's not. She's still lying.
Look, I don't want to belabor the point. Fiorina made a very specific claim in the most recent GOP debate and that claim wasn't true. Since then, she and her aides have repeated the lie, over and over again, pretending fiction is fact. ABC offered Fiorina a chance to clarify, but she refused, sticking to the falsehood. Then Fox News pressed the Republican to acknowledge reality, and Fiorina refused again.
Yesterday, NBC's Chuck Todd broached the subject, and once again, Fiorina couldn't -- or wouldn't -- concede the truth.
Donald Trump's dominant position in the race for the Republican presidential nomination isn't quite as imposing as it was a few weeks ago. The New York developer is still leading the GOP pack, but a FiveThirtyEight analysis last week noted the degree to which Trump's support has slipped.
There's a difference, though, between slipping and losing. Consider the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journalpoll.
1. Donald Trump: 21% (up two points from July)
2. Ben Carson: 20% (up 10 points)
3. Carly Fiorina: 11% (up 11 points)
3. Marco Rubio: 11% (up six points)
5. Jeb Bush: 7% (down seven points)
6. John Kasich: 6% (up three points)
7. Ted Cruz: 5% (down four points)
8. Rand Paul: 3% (down three points)
8. Chris Christie: 3% (unchanged)
10. Mike Huckabee: 2% (down four points)
The remaining candidates were at 1% or below.
For all the chatter about Trump's weakened position, note Trump's backing actually went up, not down. A Fox News poll showed the same thing last week -- Carson narrowing the gap, but Trump's overall support inching higher.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the results, aside from Rand Paul's steady collapse, is Jeb Bush's backing being cut in half since July, and dropping from 22% to 7% from June to last week. It's hardly a surprise that the former governor's network of supporters are getting, let's say, antsy.
This image is in "false color" to highlight the different elements it's composed of - in this image, hydrogen is in red, sulfur is green, and oxygen is blue. False color images are extremely useful to astronomers because the gas composition of a nebula or galaxy can tell us a lot about how that object evolved and the processes going on in its immediate environment. The smooth, bright blue lines outlining the structure mark the current front of the shock wave created by the original supernova. The more diffuse red and green structures in the interior of the nebula are cooling and fading after the shock passed through them long ago. A more detailed discussion of this image can be found in this ESA article.
To get a full sense of the 3D structure of the nebula, check out this fly-through created by the amazing visualization team at the Space Telescope Science Institute.
The Veil Nebula is actually just a tiny, tiny part of a much larger structure known as the Cygnus Loop. If you could see the entire loop with your own eyes in the night sky, one side to the other would stretch over an area the size of six full moons.
You can download your very own version of these images to capture your imagination at will from here.
First up from the God Machine this week a look at the religious right movement's largest annual event, which kicked off yesterday in Washington, D.C. In fact, the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year -- which will reportedly be the largest summit to date.
So, what'd we learn from the right-wing gathering? For one thing, most of the Republicans running for president see the social conservative attendees as their natural base.
There is a lot of conservative star power shining out of the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington on Friday morning. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sarah Palin are just a few of the Republican Party’s luminaries headlining the Values Voter Summit, which is running through the weekend.
Mr. Cruz rallied the Republican base by reminding them of the anniversary of his filibuster, which he said “elevated the debate about Obamacare.” He also invoked former President Ronald Reagan, suggesting that a new wave of conservatism was nearing. "Morning is coming," Cruz said. "Morning is coming.”
In all, eight White House hopefuls -- Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham -- will make their pitch to the far-right crowd. They'll be joined by five House Republicans, another Senate Republican, another Republican governor, and a former Republican presidential candidate (Rick Perry).
It's almost enough to give someone the impression that the lines between the GOP and the religious right movement have blurred to the point of non-existence.
Jeb Bush was invited, and was briefly listed as a featured guest, but he ultimately declined to attend.
As for yesterday's opening day, we also learned that attendees don't think highly of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); the crowd didn't appreciate Trump referring to Rubio as a "clown"; Ted Cruz, who sees President Obama as "a communist," stands ready to assassinate the Iranian Ayatollah; and Mike Huckabee believes the United States may cease to exist if gay Americans continue to have equal marriage rights.
Day Two gets underway this morning. I'll report back on Monday on the results of the Values Voter Summit presidential straw poll.
Rachel Maddow looks ahead to the weekend events planned for Pope Francis and the expected turnout in Philadelphia of as many as two million people on Sunday when he celebrates Mass at the World Meeting of Families. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on which Democratic members of Congress were charged with the task of keeping their colleagues from crowding Pope Francis on his visit to the House chamber, and takes important advice that the size of the protectors is not necessarily an indication of their capabilities. watch
John Stanton, DC bureau chief for Buzzfeed, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether the conventional wisdom that Rep. Kevin McCarthy will replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House is accurate, and how the hard-right Republicans that made Boehner's job so difficult are likely to respond to the replacement process. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the busy day Pope Francis had in New York City, from the U.N. to Ground Zero, to a school in Harlem, through Central Park, and finally with tens of thousands of worshipers at Madison Square Garden. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the Donald Trump having a hard time accepting that his campaign is losing some of its luster as he pushes back on plain evidence of weak turnout at a recent event and insists that a booing audience was actually cheering. watch
Rachel Maddow reviews some of the high and low points of John Boehner's tenure as speaker of the House and talks with Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post, about the considerations that likely went into Boehner's decision to resign and whether his replacement will have an easier time getting things done. watch
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.