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These Republicans Want to Put Ankle Monitors on the Sponsors of Undocumented Children

Mother Jones

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Two top Texas Republican lawmakers have been working on a border security and immigration enforcement bill with input from the Trump administration, according to multiple reports—and it pulls few punches.

Most notably, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s bill would force the sponsors of undocumented immigrants between the ages of 15 to 17 who show up unaccompanied at the border to wear ankle monitors so that the teens don’t skip out on deportation hearings. The sponsors are typically parents or other family members—many of whom are legal residents or citizens.

The use of ankle monitors on migrants themselves is already controversial. Mother Jones has previously reported that through for-profit companies, and at the cost of thousands of dollars, ankle monitors are offered as alternatives to long-term detention for migrants who can’t afford the lump sum of their bail, even though the monthly payments can eventually overshadow the original bail amounts. Requiring the sponsors, instead of the migrants, to wear the ankle bracelets appears to be an unprecedented step further.

The early “discussion draft” of the bill also calls to increase criminal prosecutions for immigrants who cross the border illegally, including establishing a five-year minimum prison sentence for those who re-enter the country after being deported. It would expand the use of mandatory detention for immigrants arrested within 100 miles of a border who are from countries other than Mexico or Canada—the overwhelming majority of migrants entering the United States come from Central America. It seeks an increase in detention space, allows for financial reimbursement to states that deploy their National Guard to the border, and calls for more immigration judges to speed up deportations. It calls for various border wall upgrades, but stops short of providing for Trump’s long-promised “big, beautiful” border wall.

On Tuesday, a congressional aide told Politico that the bill circulating is “really old” and “nowhere near the current draft.” But it’s unclear what has changed. While the bill is aimed at avoiding the pitfalls of the far right, hardline anti-immigrant groups have come out against it, arguing that because it lacks imposing sanctions on businesses that hire undocumented immigrants and does not provide for Trump’s border wall, it is toothless. “There’s not a single thing about worksite enforcement or anything at all against employers,” Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, told the Washington Post. “It’s tinkering around the margins.”

Both the offices of Cornyn and McCaul declined to comment on the bill, including whether the latest draft still includes a mandate forcing undocumented children’s sponsors to wear ankle monitors.

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These Republicans Want to Put Ankle Monitors on the Sponsors of Undocumented Children

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The White House Won’t Deny the Facts of Latest Russia Scandal But Says It’s False Anyway

Mother Jones

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On Monday, the Washington Post set off a political firestorm when it reported that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in their White House meeting on May 10. Current and former US officials told the Post that the disclosure jeopardized a valuable source of intelligence on ISIS. The paper quoted one official as saying that Trump had “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

On Monday evening, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster read a confusing statement to the press that appeared to deny the Post’s report. “The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false,” he said, adding that “at no time—at no time—were intelligence sources or methods discussed.” Multiple news outlets soon pointed out that McMaster’s verbal gymnastics seemed to be a classic “nondenial denial.” That is, McMaster appeared to be denying information that wasn’t actually reported by the Post in the first place. The Post had not claimed that “intelligence sources or methods” were discussed; the paper had simply reported that the information discussed could be used to discern intelligence sources or methods.

Trump, for his part, appeared to muddy the waters further Tuesday morning when he took to Twitter to defend his actions. Unlike McMaster, Trump didn’t even purport to dispute the Post‘s reporting:

Later Tuesday, McMaster appeared before the press yet again in an attempt to clear up the situation. Asked about his Monday claim that the Post story was “false,” McMaster said, “I stand by my statement that I made yesterday.” But he then went on to suggest that he wasn’t actually claiming the facts in the story were wrong. Rather, he said it was the “premise” of the article that was false. According to McMaster, “What I’m saying is really the premise of that article is false—that in any way the president had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security.”

In other words, McMaster wasn’t disputing any of the details in the Post‘s report; he was simply saying the president’s actions were somehow appropriate. McMaster refused to say whether or not the information the president shared with Lavrov and Kislyak was classified. But he repeated several times that Trump’s decision to share the material was “wholly appropriate.”

And why does McMaster think Trump’s statements to the Russians were appropriate? Because, McMaster seemed to imply, the president can decide to share whatever he wants. “As you know,” he said, “it is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people. That’s what he did…He made the decision in the context of the conversation, which was wholly appropriate.”

McMaster added that Trump wasn’t even aware that the information apparently came from a sensitive intelligence source:

So there you have it: The Post story is “false” because Trump’s statement’s were “appropriate,” and Trump’s statement’s were “appropriate” because he’s the president.

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The White House Won’t Deny the Facts of Latest Russia Scandal But Says It’s False Anyway

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A Lot of Republicans Are Abandoning the Latest Trumpcare Plan

Mother Jones

Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare could once again be in trouble. According to whip counts from various news outlets, Republicans have already lost nearly enough support from their own members in the House of Representatives to tank the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s bill that would rip apart and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The latest blow for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) came Tuesday, when Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said that he’d vote against the bill. Upton is a particularly notable defection, since he’s the former chairman of one of the committees that deals with health care, and he’s spent years trying to undo Obamacare. But the current GOP repeal effort goes too far for Upton, because it would essentially end Obamacare’s ban on discrimination against people with preexisting conditions. “I’m not at all comfortable with removing that protection,” Upton said in a radio interview.

Last week, Republicans thought they were headed toward a deal that could pass the House. The hardcore conservatives in the Freedom Caucus had finally relented and offered their support for the AHCA after an amendment was introduced that would allow states to opt out of two of the core consumer protections in Obamacare: essential health benefits, and the prohibition on insurance companies charging higher rates for people with preexisting conditions. In other words, in order to win over the far-right members of their caucus, Ryan and other House leaders accepted a proposal that would allow insurance companies to once again price-gouge people with any sort of medical history.

But by caving to the Freedom Caucus and agreeing to ditch one of the most popular aspects of Obamacare, Ryan has lost support from a number of mainline Republicans in his caucus—Republicans who were already waffling thanks to the initial bill’s $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid and policies that would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans higher rates.

Republicans can likely afford to lose just 22 votes and still pass their bill. (The exact number depends on how many members of Congress are present if the vote ever happens.) Per a tabulation by HuffPost‘s Matt Fuller, there are 20 Republicans who have publicly said they will vote “No,” with another eight leaning against the bill. And those are just the Republicans willing to share their plains with the press. It’s possible that others are hesitant to publicly defy GOP leadership but are also wary of voting to repeal protections for their many constituents who suffer from preexisting conditions.

Ryan’s strategy for convincing his colleagues to support the bill seems to be to lie about what it actually does. After Upton announced his plans to vote against the proposal Tuesday, Ryan tweeted that it was “VERIFIED” that the bill protects people with preexisting conditions, despite the bill explicitly doing the exact opposite. Ryan’s own website acknowledges that fact, noting that the GOP plan would let states wave the current ban on preexisting condition pricing differences:

President Donald Trump has helped muddy GOP negotiations in recent days with a string of contradictory messages about what sort of health care bill he’d like to sign. In interviews, Trump has said both that the bill already protects people with preexisting conditions (not true) and also that the bill would be altered to add in those protections.

Still, despite all this bad news, Republicans have good reason to want to rush their bill through this week. While the public vote tallies aren’t favorable to Republicans, leadership is applying pressure behind the scenes that could possibly flip enough votes. Ryan reportedly asked his caucus to “pray” for the bill on Tuesday.

Ryan doesn’t have a ton of time, though. Congress is scheduled to leave town Thursday for a one-week recess, and a week of angry town hall events back home isn’t likely to shore up wavering moderates who are hesitant to overturn the preexisting condition ban and slash Medicaid.

What’s more, the amendment to end the preexisting condition protections hasn’t been analyzed yet by the Congressional Budget Office. When the CBO ran the numbers on the initial GOP proposal, it projected that 24 million fewer people would have health coverage if the plan became law. That number would probably rise under the new proposal, and premiums for people with preexisting conditions would likely skyrocket. But the CBO hasn’t yet had time to score the new legislation, leaving Republicans a brief window in which they could pass the bill before the American public has a chance to hear what it will actually do.

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A Lot of Republicans Are Abandoning the Latest Trumpcare Plan

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Trump Has No Idea What’s In His Health Care Bill

Mother Jones

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I’m going to go out and throw some frisbees around. In the meantime, enjoy John Dickerson’s interview with Donald Trump about his health care bill:

JOHN DICKERSON: So but in the bill, as it was analyzed, there were two problems. One, and you talked about this with Congressman Robert Aderholt, who brought you the example of the 64-year-old who under Obamacare the premiums–

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But that was a long time ago, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: But has that been fixed?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Totally fixed.

JOHN DICKERSON: How?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: How? We’ve made many changes to the bill. You know, this bill is–

JOHN DICKERSON: What kind though?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –very much different than it was three weeks ago.

JOHN DICKERSON: Help us explain because there are people–

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The bill–

JOHN DICKERSON: –out there wondering what kind of changes.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Let me explain. Let me explain it to you.

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This bill is much different than it was a little while ago, okay? This bill has evolved. And we didn’t have a failure on the bill. You know, it was reported like a failure. Now, the one thing I wouldn’t have done again is put a timeline. That’s why on the second iteration, I didn’t put a timeline.

But we have now pre-existing conditions in the bill. We have — we’ve set up a pool for the pre-existing conditions so that the premiums can be allowed to fall. We’re taking across all of the borders or the lines so that insurance companies can compete–

JOHN DICKERSON: But that’s not in–

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –nationwide.

JOHN DICKERSON: –this bill. The borders are not in–

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Of course, it’s in.

Needless to say, it’s not in. It might be in a future bill, but it’s not in the current bill. On the bright side, I’m impressed that Trump even knows about the high-risk pool, even if he doesn’t quite know what it’s called.

We also learned that Trump’s response to North Korea’s missile test is that he’s not happy. What does that mean? “I would not be happy. If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy.”

Roger that.

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Trump Has No Idea What’s In His Health Care Bill

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4 Ways Trump’s Tax Plan Will Make the Trumps Even Richer

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump revealed an outline of his big tax reform plan on Wednesday. It’s light on specifics and even lighter on details about how the administration might pay for what it describes as the “biggest tax cut” in US history. But one thing is perfectly clear: Trump and his family could save billions of dollars. Here are four ways Trump’s tax proposals would help people named Trump.

1. Eliminating the Estate Tax

The estate tax, which applies to wealth that deceased people pass on to their heirs, only affects the richest of the richest—roughly 0.2 percent of Americans. Individuals worth at least $5.45 million (or married couples worth at least $10.9 million) will owe estate taxes after their deaths. Currently, assets in excess of this $5.45 million exemption are taxed at 40 percent. President Donald Trump claims to be worth $10 billion, so his heirs could save billions if the estate tax disappears.

2. Eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax

The alternative minimum tax requires certain taxpayers to calculate how much tax they owe twice—once using the regular income tax rules and again under AMT rules. Originally, the AMT was structured to prevent wealthy people from abusing the system by avoiding paying their fair share of taxes. We don’t know much about Trump’s taxes, but his 2005 returns, which were obtained by MSNBC, indicate the he earned $153 million that year. Without the AMT, Trump apparently would have paid just $7 million in taxes, according to the New York Times—a tax rate less than 5 percent. But the AMT forced him to pony up an additional $31 million that year, raising his tax rate to about 25 percent. Asked at a Wednesday press briefing how eliminating the AMT would impact Trump’s tax liability, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin dodged the question and abruptly ended the briefing.

3. Slashing Tax Rates for Pass-Through Corporations

Many businesses are structured as pass-through companies, meaning that rather than filing taxes as corporations, they “pay taxes through the personal income tax code,” as the Times explains. Trump wants to cut the rate for pass-throughs (as well as for corporations) to just 15 percent, which will certainly enrich anyone named Trump. Since the Trump Organization is a collection of pass-throughs, the organization itself isn’t subject to income tax. Instead, the owners are taxed individually. So Trump and his children would only have to pay 15 percent on their earnings from the family organization in taxes, much lower than the current top rate of 39.6 percent.

4. Lowering the Individual Income Tax Rate

Trump wants to eliminate several tax brackets and lower the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. Under the new plan, there will be three tax brackets: 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. That could be a huge giveaway to the Trumps and other wealthy Americans who make millions of dollars each year.

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4 Ways Trump’s Tax Plan Will Make the Trumps Even Richer

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