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The tax bill appears poised to pass on Tuesday

December 15, 2017

   With Marco Rubio and Bob Corker announcing their support for the compromise tax legislation it now appears as if the bill will pass and it is being reported that vote will come on Tuesday. To date we have not seen what is in the bill but the Republicans released a two page summary and here is what we know: (I apologize because the formatting gets a little screwed up on page two)

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) overhauls America’s tax code to deliver historic tax relief for workers, families and job creators, and revitalize our nation’s economy. By lowering taxes across the board, eliminating costly special-interest tax breaks, and modernizing our international tax system, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help create more jobs, increase paychecks, and make the tax code simpler and fairer for Americans of all walks of life.With this bill, the typical family of four earning the median family income of $73,000 will receive
a tax cut of $2,059
For individuals and families, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
• Lowers individual taxes and sets the rates at 0%, 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%
 so people can keepmore of their hard-earned money.
Signicantly increases the standard deduction
 to protect roughly double the amount of what you earn each yearfrom taxes – from $6,350 and $12,700 under current law to $12,000 and $24,000 for individuals and marriedcouples, respectively.
• Continues to allow people to write off the cost of state and local taxes
 – just like current law – up to $10,000.
Gives individuals and families the ability to choose among sales, income and property taxes to best t their
unique circumstances.
• Takes action to support more American families
• Expanding the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000
 for single lers and married couples to help parents
with the cost of raising children. The tax credit is fully refundable up to $1,400 and begins to phase-out for families making over $400,000. Parents must provide a child’s valid Social Security Number in order to receive this credit.
• Preserving the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
 to help families care for their children and older dependents such as a disabled grandparent who may need additional support.
• Preserving the Adoption Tax Credit
 so parents can continue to receive additional tax relief as they open their hearts and homes to an adopted child.
• Preserves the mortgage interest deduction
– providing tax relief to current and aspiring homeowners.• For all homeowners with existing mortgages that were taken out to buy a home, there will be no change to the current mortgage interest deduction.
For homeowners with new mortgages on a rst or second home, the home mortgage interest deduction will
be available up to $750,000.
• Provides relief for Americans with expensive medical bills
 by expanding the medical expense deduction for 2018 and 2019 for medical expenses exceeding 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, and rising to 10 percent beginning in 2020.
• Continues and expands the deduction for charitable contributions
 so people can continue to donate to their localchurch, charity, or community organization.
Eliminates Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty tax
– providing families with much-needed relief and
exibility to buy the health care that’s right for them if they choose.
• Maintains the Earned Income Tax Credit
 to provide important tax relief for low-income Americans working tobuild better lives for themselves.
• Improves savings vehicles for education
 by allowing families to use 529 accounts to save for elementary,secondary and higher education.
• Provides support for graduate students
 by continuing to exempt the value of reduced tuition from taxes

• Retains popular retirement savings options
such as 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) soAmericans can continue to save for their future.
• Increases the exemption amount from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
 to reduce the complexity and taxburden for millions of Americans.
Provides immediate relief from the Death Tax by doubling the amount of the current exemption
 to reduce uncertainty and costs for many family-owned farms and businesses when they pass down their life’s work to the next generation.
For job creators of all sizes, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
• Lowers the corporate tax rate to 21% (beginning Jan. 1, 2018)
– down from 35%, which today is the highest in the industrialized world – the largest reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate in our nation’s history.
Delivers signicant tax relief to Main Street job creators
Offering a rst-ever 20% tax deduction that applies to the rst $315,000 of joint income
earned by all businesses organized as S corporations, partnerships, LLCs, and sole proprietorships. For Main Street job
creators with income above this level, the bill generally provides a deduction for up to 20% on business prots
– reducing their effective marginal tax rate to no more than 29.6%.
• Establishing strong safeguards
so that wage income does not receive the lower marginal effective tax rates on business income – helping to ensure that Main Street tax relief goes to the local job creators it was designed to help most.
Allows businesses to immediately write off the full cost of new equipment
 to improve operations and enhance the skills of their workers – unleashing growth of jobs, productivity, and paychecks.
Protects the ability of small businesses to write off interest on loans
, helping these Main Street entrepreneurs start or expand a business, hire workers, and increase paychecks.
Preserves important elements of the existing business tax system
, including:
Retaining the low-income housing tax credit
 that encourages businesses to invest in affordable housing so
families, individuals, and seniors can and a safe and comfortable place to call home.
• Preserving the Research & Development Tax Credit
that encourages our businesses and workers to develop cutting-edge “Made in America” products and services.
Retaining the tax-preferred status of private-activity bonds
 that are used to finance valuable infrastructure
• Eliminates the Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax
, thereby lowering taxes and eliminating confusion and uncertainty so American job creators can focus on growing their business and hiring more workers, rather than on burdensome paperwork.
Modernizes our international tax system
 so America’s global businesses will no longer be held back by an outdated “worldwide” tax system that results in double taxation for many of our nation’s job creators.
• Makes it easier for American businesses to bring home foreign earnings
 to invest in growing jobs and paychecksin our local communities.
Prevents American jobs, headquarters, and research from moving overseas
 by eliminating incentives that now
reward companies for shifting jobs, prots, and manufacturing plants abroad.
For greater American energy security and economic growth, the Tax Cuts and
Jobs Act:
Establishes an environmentally responsible oil and gas program in the non-wilderness 1002 Area of the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
. Congress specically set aside the 1.57-million acre 1002 Area for potential
future development. Two lease sales will be held over the next decade and surface development will be limited to2,000 federal acres – just one ten-thousandth of all of ANWR.
Significantly boosts American energy production.
Responsible development in the 1002 Area will raise tens of
billions of dollars for deficit reduction in the decades to come, while creating thousands of new jobs, reducing our
dependence on foreign oil, and helping to keep energy affordable for American families and businesses.
Provides a temporary increase in offshore revenue sharing
 for the Gulf Coast in 2020 and 2021, allowing those states to invest in priorities such as coastal restoration and hurricane protection
  A couple of things I notice: First, there are still going to be seven tax brackets but all of them are lower than the current rates. However it appears as if some people might be pushed into a higher tax bracket. And the second has to do with the mortgage interest deduction: There will be no changes to the deduction on mortgages already already on the books while the new mortgage interest deduction will be capped at $750,000. If you are planning on buying a house for less than $750,000 there will be no change. This is an improvement over the rumors the mortgage interest deduction was going to be eliminated.
  It still looks like there could be a defector or two so it will be interesting to see this play out but it looks like Donald Trump is finally going to get a legislative win.
malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Peter Strzok text talked about an ‘insurance policy’ to stop Donald Trump

December 13, 2017

    On December 3rd we learned the reason why Peter Strzok was removed from Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation was because of some anti-Trump tweets between himself and his mistress–who also worked for the FBI.

  The tweets have now been released and it is clear there is no way Peter Strzok could be impartial, he had to go, but there is one tweet I found interesting and it goes beyond him simply not being impartial because it seems like there was a plan in place they thought would keep Donald Trump from becoming President.

  Here is the tweet:

  While in a meeting with Andrew McCabe, and who knows who else, it appears as if Lisa Page threw out some type of plan as an “insurance policy” to stop Donald Trump. This is getting very interesting because we know that Bruce Ohr was demoted in the Department of Injustice because he had contact with foreign agent Christopher Steele during the 2016 campaign, and we also know he had contact with the founder of Fusion GPS.

  We also know that Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS is the organization which created the Russian dossier which was used as justification for the special counsel and it is alleged it was also used to gain a FISA warrant to wiretap Trump Tower during the campaign.

  The tweet is purposely vague but it does seem to tie this all together because it certainly looks like this “insurance policy” could be the Russian dossier. Interestingly enough the FBI is refusing to say whether or not they paid for the dossier and it seems to me that if the FBI did not pay for it they would come right out and say it.

  As it stands right now it looks as if Barack Obama’s Department of Injustice, through the FBI, was actively working to stop Donald Trump from becoming the President. Jeff Sessions has recused himself from this investigation but Rod Rosenstein is still saying there is nothing to see here. 

  This investigation appears to be an attempt at finding an excuse to impeach Donald Trump but the tables are starting to turn and it looks like we are just beginning to learn about how deep the corruption in the Department of Injustice really is. Donald Trump took heat for saying the FBI was “in tatters” but he now seems to be right. They were all counting on Hillary Clinton winning the election because all of this would have gone away and now they are scrambling to keep this all hidden from the American people. Drip, drip, drip…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Donald Trump Jr. requests inquiry into Intelligence Committee leaks about his Russia collusion testimony

December 12, 2017

  Back on December 6th Donald Trump Jr. testified in front of the Intelligence Committee about a meeting he attended with Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya. This was supposed to be a closed door meeting but some of his testimony was leaked to the press and now he is demanding an investigation into to the leaks. Here is more:

Donald Trump Jr.’s attorney has sent a letter to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence requesting an inquiry into leaks he says took place during and after Trump Jr.’s interview with the committee on December 6. The letter was sent to Representative Mike Conaway of Texas, who took over the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election from Devin Nunes, after Nunes recused himself earlier this year.

The letter says that Trump Jr. and his attorneys were promised that the interview would be “kept strictly confidential and not discussed publicly unless and until the full committee voted to release the transcript.”

Trump Jr. and his attorney say that while he was still being interviewed, “members of the committee and/or their staff began selectively leaking information provided during the interview to various press outlets, most notably CNN.”

  I understand where he is coming from, if somebody on the Committee leaked testimony to the press we need to know who it was because this person cannot be trusted. And if these leaks were occurring during the “interview” it is very troubling. However, does anybody really believe an investigation will amount to anything?  He is basically asking the Intelligence Committee to investigate itself and I think we know how that would end, if it even were to begin in the first place.
  Who is watching the watchers? The watchers are watching the watchers…
malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Demoted Department of Justice official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS

December 11, 2017

  Last week we learned that Bruce Ohr was demoted by the Department of Injustice because he had contact with Christopher Steele during the 2016 campaign. Christopher Steele is a foreign agent who was hired by Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Donald Trump, and of course the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were paying Fusion GPS.

  In my post on Bruce Ohr’s demotion I wrote that I believed there was more to come. I was thinking there would be more connections to other people within the Department of Injustice or within the Russian collusion investigative team when I wrote this, and I still think there will be, but according to this story there is another connection between Bruce Ohr and Fusion GPS. Here is more:

Read more…

Sunday, December 10th open thread: ‘In One Ear’

December 10, 2017

  open-threadHere is the open thread for Sunday, December 10th. Please feel free to post links to interesting articles and to discuss whatever issues arise during the course of the day. Nothing is off-topic here.

  Last week we discussed 6 stories, did you miss any of them? If so there is an easy way to make sure it does not happen again. I understand that all of you are busy and cannot always find the time to check the blog for updates so why not subscribe to America’s Watchtower and receive email updates whenever I write a new post? That is the easiest way to follow the blog to ensure you never miss another post.

  In addition to subscribing you can also follow America’s Watchtower on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links on the right. But you will get more than that for I often post links to articles probably will not be writing about so it is a great way to keep up with what is happening.

  The Twitter widget in the sidebar is fully interactive. This widget updates my tweets in real time and allows you to respond to or retweet my tweets right from the blog. It also allows you to tweet me right from America’s Watchtower.

  Here is Cage the Elephant performing “In One Ear” live from 2015:

frui diem

More ties to Hillary Clinton in Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation come to light

December 9, 2017

  It has been a tough week for Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 election: We learned Peter Strzok was removed from the investigation earlier this year after he it was learned he sent rabid anti-Trump texts to his mistress, calling into question his impartiality. And then we learned Bruce Ohr was demoted for dubious ties to Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

  Now we are learning about more ties between Hillary Clinton and Robert Mueller’s team, here is more:

More Clinton connections have emerged for members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, amid growing Republican complaints about potential bias inside the office created to lead an independent probe. 

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller investigator Andrew Weissmann, a former partner at WilmerHale, attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party last November at the Javits Center in New York City. Fox News reported earlier this week that Weissmann in January also praised outgoing acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after she was fired for refusing to defend President Trump’s travel ban. 

Meanwhile, at least two Mueller investigators’ past legal work for Clinton-tied figures is getting a second look as Republicans hunt for signs of bias. 

Aaron Zebley, another former partner at WilmerHale and a former chief of staff to Mueller when he served as FBI director, represented Justin Cooper, a key figure in the Hillary Clinton email controversy. 

Cooper is the longtime Bill Clinton aide responsible for helping set up the now-infamous private email server. Cooper later admitted to “two instances where he destroyed [Hillary] Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”

Jeannie Rhee, another former partner at WilmerHale, represented ex-Obama National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering case, and Hillary Clinton herself in a lawsuit seeking access to her private emails. 

  So, one member of the team attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party which eventually fizzled into embarrassment; a second defended the Clinton aide who helped to set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server and helped Hillary Clinton smash her cellphones with hammers; while a third member of the team represented Ben Rhodes against racketeering charges as well as defending Hillary Clinton when she was being sued for access to her private emails. And we are supposed to believe this investigation is on the level?

  Here is what Rep. Matt Gaetz had to say about these latest revelations:

“You’ve got Donald Trump being persecuted by Hillary Clinton’s fan club—that’s inequitable. Many of the members of Mueller’s team donated to the Clinton campaign. We have a lot of highly qualified federal prosecutors in the Justice Department and we could have found a bunch of them who didn’t donate to either candidate. But that didn’t occur, and that’s troubling.” 

  For more on the donations made by people on Robert Mueller’s team to the Clinton campaign see the article I linked above. It is pretty clear what is going on here…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Department of Justice official demoted for contacting Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele during the campaign

December 7, 2017

  Last weekend we learned that an aide to Robert Mueller, Peter Strzok, was removed from the investigation into Russian collusion because he was an anti-Trumper who could not possibly be neutral. The House Intelligence Committee had been seeking documents related to his removal but their efforts had been stonewalled by the special counsel. The House committee is now  preparing contempt of Congress charges now that they know the story. 

  Today we have learned, according to this story, that a top Department of Injustice official, Bruce Ohr, has been demoted because he had contact during the 2016 campaign with the foreign agent,  Christopher Steele, who was hired  by Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. Fusion GPS was hired by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and eventually created the dossier which was used as justification to open up a special investigation. What a tangled web we weave…

  But apparently Mr. Ohr did not stop there because he also met with a founder of Fusion GPS. Here is more:

A senior Justice Department official was demoted this week amid an ongoing investigation into his contacts with the opposition research firm responsible for the anti-Trump “dossier,” the department confirmed to Fox News.

Until Wednesday morning, Bruce G. Ohr held two titles at DOJ: associate deputy attorney general, a post that placed him four doors down from his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a program described by the department as “the centerpiece of the attorney general’s drug strategy.”

Ohr will retain his OCDETF title but has been stripped of his higher post and ousted from his office on the fourth floor of “Main Justice.”

Fox News has learned that evidence collected by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., indicates that Ohr met during the 2016 campaign with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the “dossier.” 

House investigators have determined that Ohr met shortly after the election with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS – the opposition research firm that hired Steele to compile the dossier with funds supplied by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. By that point, according to published reports, the dossier had been in the hands of the FBI, which exists under the aegis of DOJ, for some five months, and the surveillance on Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump campaign, had started more than two months prior.

Here is what the Department of Injustice had to say about Mr. Ohr’s demotion:

“It is unusual for anyone to wear two hats as he has done recently. This person is going to go back to a single focus—director of our organized crime and drug enforcement unit. As you know, combating transnational criminal organizations and drug trafficking is a top priority for the attorney general.”

  In other words this had nothing to do with any possible conflict of interest so move on, nothing to see here. We are beginning to see what the true intention of this investigation is and I believe there is more to come, these are just the first two dominoes to fall…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium