Thursday, November 2, 2017 -- Tax Cuts & Jobs, What Binds Us, Balfour At 100

Tax Cuts & Jobs
 
House Republicans unveiled their tax reform plan today, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  (Or as Trump refers to it, the Cut, Cut, Cut Act.)  While it is not as bold as many conservatives might prefer, on balance it appears to be a good compromise that should spur economic growth. 
 
Unfortunately, the failure of some Senate Republicans to repeal Obamacare greatly affected what could be done in terms of tax reform.  With that in mind, here are some key details:
 

  • The plan has four tax brackets: 12%, 25%, 35% and 39.6%.
  • The standard deduction is doubled.The first $12,000 an individual earns ($24,000 for a couple) is tax-free.
  • The per-child tax credit is increased from $1,000 to $1,600.
  • Deductions for charitable donations and existing home mortgage interest are preserved.  The deduction on new home mortgages would be limited to the interest paid on the first $500,000 of the mortgage.
  • Deductions for state and local taxes will be capped at $10,000.
  • There are no changes to 401(k) plans.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax is repealed and the Death Tax is phased out after six years.
  • The corporate tax rate is reduced from 35% to 20%.
  • Small business owners, who often pay taxes at higher personal rates, will be taxed at 25%.

President Trump endorsed the House plan, calling it "the rocket fuel our economy needs to soar higher than ever before."
 
Of course, nothing has passed the House yet, and the Senate will have its say too.  But President Trump expressed his hope that Congress would work quickly so that we can give the American people "a big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut."
 
 
 
What Binds Us?
 
Years ago, I had the great honor of working with Clarence Thomas in the Reagan Administration and later chairing the Citizens Committee to Confirm Clarence Thomas when he was nominated for the Supreme Court. 
 
I felt great pride watching Justice Thomas last night on Fox News during a rare interview with Laura Ingraham.  I was proud watching my friend speak with such authority and hearing his insights. 
 
But there was sadness, too.  Like Gen. John Kelly, Thomas is pained by the divisions in America today.  Here's what he said:
 
"What binds us?  What do we all have in common anymore?  . . . when I was a kid, even as we had laws [segregation] that held us apart, there were things that we held dear and that we all had in common. . . We always talk about E pluribus unum [Out of many one].   What's our unum now?  We have the pluribus.  What's the unum?  . . .
 
"Some people have decided that the Constitution isn't worth defending, that history isn't worth defending, that the culture and principles aren't worth defending. . . I don't know what it is that, we can say instinctively, we have as a country in common."
 
Sadly, Justice Thomas is right.  Long-held religious and cultural values like marriage now divide us.  We don't have a national language to unite us.  Even our flag and the national anthem divide us. 
 
Meanwhile, the NYC jihadist who killed eight people this week loves his flag so much that he demanded the hospital put an ISIS flag in his room.  I could be okay with that as long as the hospital insists a proctologist puts it in the appropriate place!
 
 
 
Speaking Of Division. . .
 
Antifa is taking to the streets this weekend calling for a revolution.  Left-wing radicals will demonstrate in cities across the country Saturday, November 4th. 
My blood ran cold when I saw a full page ad in yesterday's New York Times by the group RefuseFascism.org promoting the protests. 
 
While the group claims to support "non-violent protests," that is not how Antifa works.  That is why the FBI has classified Antifa as "domestic terrorists."  Moreover, the rhetoric in the ad does not suggest that their efforts will remain peaceful. 
 
They are not talking about working through the political process.  There's nothing in the ad about "voter registration drives" or even "impeachment." 
 
The ad calls the Trump Administration "a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet."  It describes the duly elected government as a "regime" that must be "driven from power."  And it implies that Trump voters -- half the country -- are fascists.
 
I am certain federal, state and local authorities are aware of these planned protests.  I hope they are prepared for whatever may happen.
 
This is just one more reminder that the fight for our country did not end last November.  It is continuing.  And we are continuing to fight the good fight for our values.  But we can't do it without you.  
 
 
 
Houston, We Have A Winner!
 
Condolences to our friends in Southern California, and congratulations to our friends in Texas.  What a thrilling World Series between the L.A. Dodgers and the Houston Astros!
 
Many people undoubtedly noticed that this was not just a clash of two great teams, but a clash of cultures.  I don't know if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell watches baseball, but if he does, he and his players were sent a strong message last night. 
 
Four police officers with the Los Angeles Police Department Quartet sang the national anthem.  Every player from both teams was standing at attention.  The crowd roared its appreciation at the end.  Watch it here.
 
By the way, Papa John isn't happy with the NFL either.  He says the football player protests are hurting his business as the NFL's official pizza sponsor.  John Schnatter, owner of Papa John's, lashed out at Roger Goodell, saying:
 
"We are certainly disappointed that NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation. . . This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.  Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership."   
 
 
 
Balfour At 100
 
One hundred years ago today, British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild announcing Great Britain's support for the creation of a Jewish homeland.  The Balfour Declaration, as the letter became known, was the first recognition by a world power of the need for Jews to have a state of their own.  As such, it served as the legal basis for the founding of the modern state of Israel.

‚ÄčOf course, the real foundation for Israel came from a force more powerful than Great Britain -- the God of Abraham!
 
Our friends at Christians United For Israel have produced a short video about the history of the Balfour Declaration and its importance.  You can watch it here.
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in London today, where the British government is celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.   There will be a gala dinner tonight in London hosted by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to celebrate Britain's role in the creation of Israel. 
 
However, Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing leader of the Labor Party, is refusing to attend.  That is shocking and outrageous given that the Labor Party is immersed in a major scandal involving disgusting displays of anti-Semitism. 
 
The same hard left / Islamist alliance we see emerging here in America has taken root in Great Britain.  Sadly, one of Britain's two major parties is now solidly anti-Israel.
 
 
 
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