This week we delve into some pretty uninteresting tax returns, blaming England (which I support in general, but not in this instance), the CBO score, and a rumor of an impending government shutdown by… wait for it… Democrats. And we’re crying into our wolf cocktail as Trump ruins relationships with our allies, because that’s exactly what the Trump administration is doing. Crying wolf.
One Drink: Finally, Some Tax Returns: Confirmed, then Denied, Still Legal, and Generally Uninteresting
On Tuesday, Rachel Maddow revealed two pages of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns. Her reveal was overly dramatic and not well received. The two pages were uninteresting, showing Trump made a lot of money, and paid a lot of taxes. We knew he was rich. Rich people do pay taxes.
The White House preempted her story by releasing a statement confirming the numbers in the returns, and then saying it was illegal for Maddow to publish the returns. It’s not. But then Trump called the returns fake news. So it’s his real 1040, but a fake story. Whatever.
There are also many rumors that Trump himself was behind the leak. An attempt to distract from the serious scandals plaguing his presidency? Maybe. An attempt to drip out a return from a year he did pay taxes so he won’t have to reveal years he didn’t? Possibly. Do I really care, when faced with the prospect of widespread involvement with various elements of the Russian state during the campaign and transition? Nope.
Two Drinks: Blaming Britain, Missing Deadlines, Still No Evidence of Wiretapping
The week began on Monday with the White House and Justice Department missing a deadline to produce evidence of Trump’s claim that his wires were tapped during the election to the House Intelligence Committee. Sean Spicer said he is confident that “evidence will emerge,” although whence such evidence will emerge if not from the White House has not been made clear. Maybe Wikileaks? Trump loves Wikileaks.
Oh, and then it got worse. Sean Spicer, who for once in his life had a plausible excuse for his wardrobe when his horrible tie choices coincided with St. Patrick’s day, then claimed that Obama had instructed GCHQ, the British NSA, to tap his phones. A justifiably enraged GCHQ issued a rare public statement flatly denying the claim, and the White House was forced to make a formal diplomatic apology over the issue, promising not to repeat the claim. Then Trump repeated the claim.
Trump’s defense here? It was all Fox News’s fault. Because obviously the man doesn’t have agency and can’t be held responsible for what comes out of his mouth, and since he was channeling Fox News during a seance using his body as a vessel, he can fully pass the blame. Am I getting that logic right?
The explanations coming from senior advisors at the White House are that there are variable meanings of the words “wires,” “tapped,” “my,” “phones,” and “Obama.”
As the head of the executive branch, Trump can release any information about a wiretap by instructing the Department of Justice to do so. There is no need for a Congressional inquiry. He’s burning his bridges (along with his credibility), and when Trump actually does need congress to investigate something in the future, they’re going to point to this and say “why should we believe you?” just like Trump was asking “why should we believe the intelligence community after there were no WMDs in Iraq?” God, isn’t Karma a bitch?
Red Drink: The CBO Has Spoken
The Congressional Budget Office, an independent congressional agency, came out with forecasts for Ryancare, and the response offers a masterclass in the art of spin.
The key takeaway from the report is that 24 million Americans will lose health coverage if the bill is enacted as is. Republicans are claiming it’s not that 24 million people will lose their access to health care per se, it’s that 24 million people will chose not to buy healthcare because they won’t be forced to (you could already chose to not have health care, you just had to pay a tax, which given that hospitals have to treat you in an emergency regardless of coverage or ability to pay, seems pretty reasonable to me, but I digress). I also chose not to buy a Lamborghini.
The other key takeaway is that the bill will reduce the deficit by some $337 billion dollars. If we’re talking about cutting the deficit, as a millennial, I would love to see entitlements that I’m paying for an probably won’t receive on the chopping block first. Entitlements are also a much bigger affront to the traditional Republican view of Government. But keep in mind that Trump and the Republicans have basically been throwing spaghetti at the wall when it comes to ways to cut the deficit, from eliminating block grants to Meals on Wheels, funding for PBS and NPR, after school programs, health care, and anything else that doesn’t affect the 65+ demographic or Lockheed Martin, in hopes of finding what will stick as the least offensive option to their voting base. This bill isn’t predicated on ideology, it’s feeling in the dark for a light switch.
Various Republican senators have stated outright that the bill in its current form is dead on arrival in the senate, Trump has said it’s the opening salvo in a negotiation. Republicans of various ideological alignments have a lot of complaints. So watch this space, and don’t get too worked up yet, since a lot is going to change before this bill goes anywhere.
Blue Drink: Now Look Who’s Shutting down the Government
The New York Times ran a story on Monday suggesting that Democrats were hinting at a government shutdown over funding the border wall that Mexico will not be paying for. Democrats have the opportunity here to show that they are more responsible than Republicans, who, and I can say this as a long-time Republican, have abdicated their platform of fiscal responsibility multiple times over the Obama years.
Shutting down the government would be a short-term win in showing the far left base that Democrats are fighting Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric. But the Democratic party is getting too involved in this silly “#resistance” nonsense. The way to regain control of Washington is at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020, and involves voter outreach to win back a large share of moderate and rural white voters from Republicans. Pandering to the obstructionist base is not going to do that.
Drink of the Week: Wolf Cocktail
Get it? Because the administration keeps crying wolf. You’ll need:
- 6 slices fresh jalapenos
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 3 oz tequila
- 1 oz fresh orange juice
- 1 oz lime juice
Muddle 3 jalapeno slices and simple syrup until jalapenos are broken down. Add tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and ice, and stir. Garnish with remaining jalapeno slices. (Source: Billy Parisi)
Do Something About It
As always, we at Red Drink, Blue Drink encourage you, our devoted readers, to not only have a good drink, but to put that subsequent energy spike and loosened inhibition to good use! Our Take Action! page links to organizations we believe can help those affected in our stories above (especially victims of non-existent terrorist attacks), and we encourage you to be active in your own way to support causes that are important to you.