Welcome to another edition of Kernels From the Cornfield – No Husks, No Hulls, No Shucks!
News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Wednesday, April 26th, 2017.
1. Political Alterverse – Tax Cuts!
President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn unveiled a broad tax proposal on today which includes a deep cut in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%.
Also proposed is a child-care tax credit and increased standard deductions for individuals.
Trump Administration officials say the tax cuts will boost the economy and employment by giving businesses and individuals more money to spend.
The plan, however, could add significantly to the deficit.
Mnuchin is calling the plan “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country.”
So what did we learn today?
a. From 7 to 3 tax brackets on personal income taxes – 10%, 25%, 35%
b. Doubling of personal standard deduction
c. Only deductions for mortgages and charities
d. End of alternative minimum tax
e. End of death tax – inheritance tax
f. 1st $24,000 earned by couples not subject to taxation
g. Increased credit for child care
h. Corporate rate reduced from 35% to 15%
i. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can file under corporate rate
No details or fleshing out as Mnuchin and Cohn said the devil was being discussed with the Republican leadership to work out.
Will fiscal, deficit hawks go for the plan when the only way expected to recap the revenue lost is expectation of economic growth?
“The President owns this plan; don’t be mistaken,” said Cohn, Director of the White House National Economic Council.
President Trump is hitting back at the latest federal judge who put the thumbs down on the Administration’s plan to withhold funds from sanctuary cities, who do not cooperate with federal authorities on illegal immigrants.
The White House called the ruling an “egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.”
The threat of a government shutdown come midnight Friday eased somewhat when President Trump backed down from demanding that funding for The Wall be included in the spending bill that Congress must pass.
Now Democrats are saying they won’t vote for the bill unless money for Affordable Care Act subsidies is included.
The Prez hosted the entire Senate today at the White House to brief the world’s most exclusive club on the situation with North Korea.
The members of the House of Representatives are to be briefed later on this afternoon at the Capitol.
Today, the President signed an executive order calling for a review of lands set aside by previous Administrations as national monuments and whether there had been appropriate state input.
The order could lead to opening federal lands to energy exploration.
The legislation is not expected to go anywhere, but fulfilling one of his main campaign rallying points, Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic colleagues filed a bill to up the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Signals are being sent that the House Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative members of the Congress, are ready to back the latest move to repeal and replace the ACA.
House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts Members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan.
A draft executive order to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement is under consideration, a senior Trump administration official said today, confirming an earlier report from Politico.
State Politics: The Illinois General Assembly Retirement System’s Board of Trustees are considering whether to continue to pay disgraced and convicted former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s $28,000 annual pension for the time he served in the State General Assembly.
Hastert also receives a pension as a tenured teacher and as former Speaker.
Republican Ron Estes, winner of a closer-than-usual congressional election in Kansas, has been sworn in as the newest member of the House.
Global Politics: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Tuesday that President Trump’s newly imposed tariff on Canadian lumber could result in a “thickening” of the border separating Canada and the US, hurting both of the strong longtime allies and trade partners.
“There are millions of good US jobs that depend on the smooth flow of goods, services, and people back and forth across our border,” Trudeau said at a news conference, noting that an auto part can cross the border six times before rolling off an assembly line in a finished car.
“You cannot thicken this border without hurting people on both sides of it,” Trudeau said.
Score one for Mexico and a goose egg for the US in a case over tuna fishing.
The US charges more for Mexican tuna, claiming fishermen use methods which kill dolphins.
The World Trade Organization disagreed with the US penalty and ruled Mexico could collect a $163 million fine from the US for lost revenue on tuna.
China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier today amid rising tension over North Korea and worries about Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said The Wall is not only a “bad idea” but an “unfriendly, hostile” act.
“If the negotiation on other themes – immigration, the border, trade – isn’t satisfactory to Mexico’s interests, we will have to review our existing cooperation,” Videgaray said. “This would be especially in the security areas…and that involves the national immigration agency, the federal police and of course, the armed forces.”
France’s center-right party, seeking to rebound after the defeat of its presidential candidate, said today it could share power with Emmanuel Macron if he is elected, as pollsters predict, on May 7.
Venezuelan Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz on Tuesday denounced a wave of unrest that has killed 26 people, vowing to hold all those responsible accountable and calling on both sides of a heated political spectrum to “lower the tone of confrontation.”
Opposition lawmakers are ramping up pressure on Venezuelan Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, announcing Tuesday they would give him three days to take action on their demand that the Supreme Court Magistrates responsible for the retracted decision on Congress be removed from office.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told state TV that she has been instructed by embattled President Nicolas Maduro to initiate Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Organization of American States if a Foreign Ministers meeting is called without his government’s backing.
2. Stay Back! – The US Navy had to fire a warning shot at an Iranian gunboat in the Persian Gulf.
The incident happened on Monday as the vessel attempted to draw closer to the USS Mahan despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it, said Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.
The “Mahan made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship’s whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel’s intentions,” McConnaughey said in a statement to The Associated Press.
3. Looming Cliff – Congress moved closer to a deal to avoid a government shutdown at the stroke of midnight on Friday, as negotiators worked to clear away remaining disputes in a massive spending bill.
“We’re getting really close,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said, adding that negotiators were “getting down to the last, final” areas of disagreement.
4. Trading Partners, Hey? – As a looming trade war seems to be brewing between the US and its northern neighbor, Canada, several states are worried about their specific economies intertwining with the country’s second largest trading partner.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said, “It has been a bad week for US-Canada trade relations.”
There are 17 states which send at least 25% of all exports to Canada.
Canada imported $3.2 billion worth of goods from North Dakota in 2016, or about 77.6% of the state’s total exports that year.
5. Boosting Immunity – We all fall victims to those ads claiming the newest wonder supplement that can enhance about anything.
Miracle cures abound.
But are immune boosters really a good idea?
One doctor says if you want better immunity follow these tips:
a. Adopt a more balanced diet
b. Avoid the quick fix of supplements, unless prescribed by a doctor
c. Avoid the quick fix of supplements, unless prescribed by a doctor
6. Trump Economy – Record territory once more for the markets as hearts are encouraged by both the tax plan being rolled out by the Trump Administration and the outcome of the first round in the French presidential election.
“On top of (the French election result) we have had a very decent set of corporate earnings in the U.S. and that helped push the market further along the same direction,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw.
7. Faux High End? – The latest big thing is turning out to be a bust on social media.
Nordstrom now wants to help you look like “you’re not afraid to get down and dirty” by selling you a unique pair of jeans.
The store is offering jeans which come with a “caked-on muddy coating,” according to the item’s description.
This is true “Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action,” Nordstrom writes.
The price tag?
8. Best High Schools – Unhappy with the high school your child is attending?
Not only for the weather, but it seems education is another reason to move to Arizona, home to many of the nation’s top schools.
The Cornfield landed with Signature School in Evansville, Indiana scoring #33 in the rankings.
Here is a list of the Best High Schools in America: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings
9. Pet Friendly? – United Airline has had one PR nightmare after another.
Add one more headache.
A giant rabbit flying from England to Chicago, Illinois died in flight.
A veterinarian checked Simon, a 10-month-old, 3-foot-long continental rabbit, shortly before the animal was put on the flight.
Simon was found dead on arrival.
“The safety and wellbeing of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team,” United said in a statement.
10. Looking Ahead – Who is ready for summer?
Tidbits: Wells Fargo shareholders expressed their unhappiness with the bank’s board Tuesday. The shareholders withheld what normally would be overwhelming support for the slate of directors in a vote at the end of the company’s annual meeting.
“We recognize there is still a great deal of work to do to rebuild the trust of stockholders, customers, and employees,” Wells Fargo Board of Directors Stephen Sanger said, alluding to the scandal over fake accounts charged to customers that has rocked the company the past couple of years.
The woes at Fox News are not getting better as emergence of new allegations of racial discrimination at the company hit on Tuesday. Add this to the charges of sexual harassment and no one is breathing easy at the network.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter plans to speak at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on Thursday, campus officials said, prompting the university and the city to scramble to prepare for what they fear could be another violent showdown between fans and opponents of President Trump.
A fiery collision Tuesday involving two big trucks and several smaller vehicles killed one person and injured 10 others while triggering a massive traffic jam on Interstate 5 in Los Angeles, California.
That’s what caught my attention this Wednesday, April 26th, 2017.
Tune in tomorrow for another edition of Kernels From The Cornfield.
I am Mark Ivy