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Ivanka Trump, right, listens as her father Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a policy speech on child care, Sept. 13, 2016, in Aston, Pa. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)

Donald Trump's child-care 'plan' is hard to take seriously

09/14/16 08:00AM

At first blush, Donald Trump announced a proposal yesterday in Pennsylvania that might have seemed half-way progressive. But in this case, appearances can be deceiving.
Donald Trump on Tuesday filled in the details of the childcare affordability plan he floated at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland over the summer. He did so with his daughter Ivanka Trump, an energizing force behind the policy, and behind him.
 
Trump's plan allows for a federal income tax deduction of childcare expenses for up to four children and elderly dependents. It is capped at the average cost of care in the state and is available in single-income households making up to $250,000 and $500,000 in joint-income households. Further, it guarantees six weeks of paid maternity leave, paid out of the unemployment insurance fund, to women whose companies don't provide the benefit.
Given the importance of the issue, it might seem like a step in the right direction to have the Republican presidential nominee unveil a proposal like this one. But the closer one looks at this, the worse Trump's "plan" appears.
 
There are three broad angles to keep in mind. The first is that the policy details of Trump's plan, to the extent that they exist, are a bit of a joke. The proposal would exclude many families who need help the most; the Trump campaign's numbers don't come close to adding up; and for much of the country, the size of the candidate's recommended tax credit would fall far short.
 
The second angle to remember is that Trump has some pretty serious credibility problems on this issue given his private-sector record. Many of his own employees, for example, wanted paid maternity leave but didn't receive it. What's more, the Associated Press reported last month that Trump's boasts about providing child-care at his hotels and resorts were wildly misleading: he offered programs that catered to his customers, but not his employees.

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 9.13.16

09/13/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Understandable urgency at the U.N.: "As the United Nations General Assembly converges in New York on Tuesday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is using the gathering of world leaders to rush the 2015 Paris climate change accord into legal force this year, hoping to bind all countries to its strictures for at least the next four years -- regardless of the outcome of the presidential election in the United States."
 
* On a related note: "Last month the world endured the hottest August ever recorded, according to NASA. It marked the 11th straight month, dating back to October 2015, of record-high monthly temperatures, and pushed 2016 closer to becoming the third straight year of record-setting global warmth. August also tied with July as the hottest of any month ever recorded."
 
* Germany: "Three Syrians who entered Germany as migrants have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State and may have had links to those who carried out the Paris terrorist attacks last year, the authorities said on Tuesday."
 
* Confirmation: "The Pentagon said Monday it has confirmed that a U.S. airstrike killed ISIS' second-in-command, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, despite Russia's insistence last month that it was one of its planes that killed him."
 
* This is worth keeping an eye on: "The Pentagon and intelligence community are expected to recommend soon to President Obama that he break up the joint leadership of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command to create two distinct forces for electronic espionage and cyberwarfare."
 
* ISIS: "The flow of foreign fighters to the ranks of the Islamic State -- once a mighty current of thousands of radicalized men and women converging on Syrian and Iraqi battlefields from nations across the globe -- has been cut to a trickle this year as the group's territory has shrunk and its ambitions have withered."
President Barack Obama greets Speaker of the House Paul Ryan before his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill Jan. 12, 2016 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Evan Vucci/Pool/Getty)

Poverty goes down, coverage goes up, and America gets a raise

09/13/16 04:23PM

Just a couple of days ago, the Washington Examiner published a curious op-ed from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who's convinced that President Obama will be remembered as a leader done in by an ineffective ideology. Obama's "ultimate legacy," the far-right Speaker complained, "will be showing the country that progressivism in practice just doesn't work."
 
Ryan added, "For all the tax hikes and reckless spending and red tape, America is not better off."
 
It's hard to overstate how profoundly wrong the Speaker is: by practically every imaginable metric, the country is vastly better off. Take today's news from the Census Bureau, for example.
Americans finally got a raise last year after eight years of stagnating incomes.
 
The typical U.S. household's income rose 5.2 percent in 2015 to $56,516, the Census Bureau said Tuesday.... The government's annual report on incomes and poverty portrays an economy that is finally starting to benefit a wider range of Americans, roughly six years after the recovery began.
It's been quite a while since Americans saw a report this good on incomes and poverty. Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on Twitter this afternoon, "I usually try to be restrained, but this is unambiguously the best Income, Poverty & Health Insurance report ever."
 
That probably sounds hyperbolic. It's not. Furman fleshed out the details from the Census Bureau's document and highlighted several key findings, including the fact that income growth last year was the fastest on record (this report dates back roughly a half-century); the income growth was widespread across every income group and racial/ethnic demographic, with Americans at the bottom seeing the largest percentage increase; poverty rates saw their largest one-year drop since 1968; and the number of Americans without health insurance dropped to the lowest point ever recorded in the United States. Even the pay gap between men and women has improved to its lowest level ever.
 
It's not often we see economic news this encouraging.
Signs for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump are seen on a table during a Trump campaign stop at the Boulevard Diner in Dundalk, Md. on Sept. 12, 2016. (Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters)

Team Trump picks the wrong fight at the wrong time

09/13/16 02:54PM

It seemed pretty obvious yesterday morning that the political world was prepared to focus almost exclusively on Hillary Clinton's health -- probably for quite a while. The Democratic presidential campaign had acknowledged the candidate's bout with pneumonia; a spokesperson conceded the campaign hadn't handled the issue well; and Donald Trump had spent months raising outlandish questions about Clinton's well being.
 
The media's interest was intense and there was little doubt that this story was going to dominate the political conversation for a while. And that's when Team Trump decided to ... change the subject.
 
On Friday, Clinton delivered a speech in which she condemned the Republican candidate for having lifted up "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, [and] Islamaphobic" Americans. Trump and his aides were apparently so outraged, they launched a new television ad highlighting Clinton's criticisms, followed by Trump complaining bitterly yesterday about the Democrat's rhetoric and her reference to the "basket of deplorables" that makes up so much of Trump's right-wing base.
 
The story quickly followed the exact trajectory one might expect: coverage focused on the fact that Trump really does rely on "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, [and] Islamaphobic" supporters; Trump has made many comments that have been far more offensive towards the American mainstream; and his desperate desire to exploit Clinton's accurate assessment made it seem as if he were defending some of society's most indefensible voices.
 
Making matters worse, Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), appeared on CNN yesterday, where he was asked about former KKK leader David Duke's support for the Republican ticket. Wolf Blitzer asked if Duke would "fit into that category of deplorables." Pence said he doesn't want Duke's support, but the host pressed the specific detail:
 
When Blitzer pushed Pence on if he'd call Duke, who is running for the Senate in Louisiana, a "deplorable," Pence answered, "No I'm not in the name calling business..."
 
It was an answer that delighted David Duke and frustrated Republican officials. Pence nevertheless refused to refer to the former KKK leader as "deplorable" again this morning, which led to another round of headlines.
 
Remember, this is the debate Team Trump chose -- not questions about Clinton's health, but rather, Clinton's criticisms of Trump's "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, [and] Islamaphobic" backers.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speaks during the Indiana Republican Party Spring Dinner, April 21, 2016, in Indianapolis. (Photo by Darron Cummings/AP)

GOP governor envisions bloodshed if Trump loses

09/13/16 01:39PM

The annual Values Voter Summit has become the year's biggest gathering for the religious right movement, and it's common for speakers to pander to conservative attendees with over-the-top rhetoric.
 
But even some VVS regulars were surprised by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's (R) remarks. Right Wing Watch highlighted the Republican governor's speech, which seemed to suggest that United States can only survive a Hillary Clinton presidency through bloodshed:
"Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview, and they said, 'Do you think it's possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it's possible that we'll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ.
 
"But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots.
 
"Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away."
In a separate interview, Bevin added, "If we don't step up when we have a chance to engage ideologically, philosophically, politically -- then we will ultimately find ourselves forced to the point that as a people we will be forced to shed the blood of both tyrant and patriots.... [T]hat is why this election matters so, so much."
 
Bevin later tried to argue that his VVS comments were related to military service terrorist threats, but it's difficult to take this explanation seriously. In both the speech and the interview, the right-wing governor framed his concerns in purely partisan terms.
 
There's a range of responsible rhetoric in a campaign season, especially from elected officials, and it's not unreasonable to think Bevin's apparent references to violence falls outside that range.

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.13.16

09/13/16 12:01PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* Hillary Clinton's spokesperson, Brian Fallon, told MSNBC yesterday that the campaign will release "additional information" about the candidate's health this week. He added it will "go beyond" the letter from Clinton's personal physician released last fall.
 
* Asked on CNN this morning if there's any proof that Donald Trump is actually facing an IRS audit, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway replied, "Are you calling him a liar?" I'll assume that's a rhetorical question.
 
* The latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll shows Clinton leading Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up, 48% to 44%. Last week, she led by six points.
 
* In Nevada, a new PPP poll shows Clinton up by three over Trump, 45% to 42%.
 
* In Nevada's closely watched U.S. Senate race, the same PPP poll found Catherine Cortez Masto (D) with the narrowest of leads over Rep. Joe Heck (R), 42% to 41%. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, however, showed Heck narrowly ahead, 47% to 45%.
 
* Yet another Bush administration veteran is denouncing Trump's candidacy: Robert Zoellick, George H.W. Bush's deputy chief of staff and George W. Bush's deputy secretary of state, said of the 2016 Republican, "I've seen the presidency up close. Trump is a dangerous man. I would not want that man with his finger on the triggers."
Wilson NCAA basketballs are seen at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 3, 2015 in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo by Lance King/Getty)

NCAA joins backlash against North Carolina's anti-LGBT law

09/13/16 11:02AM

It's been about six months since North Carolina Republicans quickly approved a measure known as HB 2, the state's notorious anti-LGBT law, which has cost the state dearly. A variety of businesses and organizations balked -- PayPal, for example, canceled its decision to open an office in the state, and Deutsche Bank scrapped plans to add hundreds of new jobs in North Carolina -- but Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and his GOP allies refused to repeal the discriminatory policy.
 
But given the state's love of college basketball, the latest element of the backlash will probably hurt the most.
[NCAA officials] announced on Monday evening that they will relocate all of their championship events scheduled to take place in North Carolina due to the controversial HB2 law, which eliminates protections for the LGBT community and, inside government buildings, makes it unlawful for transgendered people to use a bathroom that differs from the gender listed on their birth certificate.
 
There were seven events scheduled to take place in North Carolina during the 2016-17 school year, including the NCAA tournament; the 1st- and 2nd-round games that were supposed to be played in Greensboro, N.C., will be relocated to a site that is still to be determined.
WRAL in Raleigh reported that soon after the NCAA's announcement, North Carolina Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D) called for a special session to vote on repealing House Bill 2.
 
"The cost of holding a special session is a drop in the bucket compared to the continued legal costs, economic costs and damage to our state's reputation," Blue said. "Regardless of what side of the aisle we are on, it's time to take action that is in the best interest of the state."
 
At least at this point, there's no reason to believe state Republican policymakers are prepared to take any action at all. On the contrary, McCrory, facing a tough re-election fight this year, keeps running campaign ads defending his controversial anti-LGBT law.
 
And if last night's statement from the North Carolina Republican Party is any indication, the NCAA's decision seems likely to cause conservatives to dig in their heels.
Federal Reserve To Announce Policy Decisions After One-Day Meeting

Add the economy to the list of Trump's conspiracy theories

09/13/16 10:00AM

Donald Trump appeared on CNBC yesterday, and though the appearance wasn't especially long, the Republican presidential hopeful managed to pack in quite a few remarkable claims.
 
The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale put together a list of 13 incredible claims and comments Trump made during his CNBC interview -- in a normal year with a normal candidate, any one of the 13 would be the basis for meaningful campaign coverage -- most of which were largely overlooked yesterday.
 
Of particular interest, though, was Trump's latest economic conspiracy theory, which is a doozy, even for him. As recently as May, the GOP nominee said he agreed with the Federal Reserve's decision to keep interest rates low in order to help bolster the economy. He said at the time that raising rates would be a "disaster" and he described himself as a "low-interest-rate person."
 
Yesterday, as MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin explained, Trump not only said largely the opposite for reasons he couldn't explain, Trump also accused the Fed of corruption with no proof.
[Monday], he said Fed chair Janet Yellen's interest rate decisions proved she was "obviously not independent" from the White House and was, in fact, a partisan conspirator out to help Democrats.
 
"It's staying at zero because she's obviously political and she's doing what Obama wants her to do," Trump told CNBC on Monday. "And I know that's not supposed to be the way it is, but that's why it's low." [...]
 
What changed between May and today? Nothing. The Fed has the same policy of low interest rates that Trump gushed over just four months ago.
He added that, once elected, "the new guy" in the White House would raise interest rates, which isn't at all how the process works.
 
Trump went on to say that Janet Yellen "should be ashamed" of her efforts to help bolster the economy, which seemed bizarre, since the Fed chair is supposed to take steps to help bolster the economy.
A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas in this September 15, 2008 file photo.  About 30 percent of shareholders of both Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp backed calls for more disclosure surrounding their use of hydraulic fracturing May...

House Republicans go to bat for ExxonMobil

09/13/16 09:02AM

Late last year, evidence emerged that ExxonMobil not only recognized climate change decades ago, it put those beliefs into action, basing company decisions on the available science. As we discussed at the time, the oil giant nevertheless urged policymakers around the world not to address the intensifying climate crisis that its own scientists and engineers recognized.
 
Several congressional Democrats concluded there are grounds for a federal criminal investigation, and some state attorneys general launched probes of their own, subpoenaing ExxonMobil for more information in the hopes of determining what the company knew and when.
 
That isn't sitting well with the far-right congressional Republicans on the House Science Committee, who want ExxonMobil to be left alone. TPM reported yesterday on the latest developments on Capitol Hill.
Following a months-long standoff between the House Science Committee and state attorneys general conducting an investigation into Exxon over climate change denialism, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has called a hearing to affirm his right to subpoena the state officials overseeing criminal investigations.
 
Smith, a noted climate change denier, has made repeated demands that the attorneys general and several environmental groups turn over their communications about Exxon, accusing them of embarking on an "unprecedented effort against those who have questioned the causes, magnitude, or best ways to address climate change." The attorneys general, as well as the activist groups, have refused to comply with the committee's requests, setting up a battle over subpoena power.
As political messes go, this one's pretty straightforward: attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts are targeting ExxonMobil, so House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is targeting the attorneys general.
 
Specifically, Smith is subpoenaing them, demanding information about their ongoing investigations, their communications with environmental groups, and their interactions with each other.
 
Can the House Science Committee do this? Smith says yes, the state attorneys general say no.
 
And with this in mind, the GOP-led panel will hold a hearing tomorrow focused on Smith's legal power to subpoena state offices investigating a company he'd prefer not be bothered.

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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.

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