Review Category : Politics

Nearly half of Americans think there’s a ‘deep state’ in US: Poll

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Nearly half of Americans think there’s a “deep state” in this country, just more than half think the mainstream media regularly report false stories and six in 10 say the Trump administration regularly makes false claims. Just another day in the world of alleged sneaky stuff.

Each of these claims has gained attention since the 2016 campaign and the start of the Trump presidency, and this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that each has lots of takers.

Start with the “deep state,” described here as “military, intelligence and government officials who try to secretly manipulate government policy.” A plurality, 48 percent, think there is such a thing. Fewer, 35 percent, call it a conspiracy theory, with the rest unsure.

Whether or not it matters much is another question. Among those who see a deep state, 58 percent say it’s a major problem for the country — but that nets out to just 28 percent who both say there’s a deep state and call it a big issue.

Then there’s false news and false information. Fifty-two percent think the mainstream news media regularly produce false stories. Fifty-nine percent say the Trump administration regularly makes false claims. And which is worse? It’s about an even split, 40-43 percent, respectively.

The poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that views among partisan and ideological groups, interestingly, are quite similar on the existence of a deep state, while vastly different on the question of media vs. administration falsehoods.

In a rare show of bipartisan suspicion, 45 percent of Democrats think there’s a deep state at work, as do 46 percent of Republicans. It nips up to 51 percent for independents. Ideologically, the story is similar: Forty-seven percent of liberals, 48 percent of conservatives and 52 percent of moderates see a deep state afoot. The main difference is by age; deep state seers peak at 59 percent among young adults (age 18-29) and drop to 37 percent among seniors.

There’s little differentiation elsewhere; percentages in the 40s to 50s across groups see a deep state, with the motivating factor for that opinion not apparent in this survey’s questions. That includes no significant differences by education, often a dividing line on political issues.

More customary divisions among political groups rear their heads big time when it comes to false reporting. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans and as many conservatives (peaking at 79 percent of strong conservatives) say mainstream news organizations regularly produce false stories. Just 30 and 32 percent of Democrats and liberals, respectively, agree. On the other hand, 81 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of liberals say the Trump administration regularly makes false claims; a quarter of Republicans and 32 percent of strong conservatives agree.

It’s notable that one in four Republicans and one in three strong conservatives ding the administration for false claims, as well. It also does poorly in the middle — 62 percent of independents and 63 percent of moderates see false claims coming regularly from the White House.

These splits carry through to which is the bigger problem: Democrats say it’s falsehoods from the administration, rather than from the media, by 72-16 percent. Republicans say the opposite, by a nearly identical 72-12 percent. Independents are roughly divided.

There are other group differences in the results on false information, but almost all are political in nature. Seventy-eight percent of Trump voters and 69 percent of evangelical white Protestants (a core GOP group) think the news media regularly produce false stories; 47 percent of non-evangelical white Protestants and 28 percent of Hillary Clinton voters agree.

Flip the tables and 90 percent of Clinton voters, 69 percent of the non-religious, 66 percent of college graduates and 65 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds think the Trump administration regularly makes false claims. Among their counterparts, just 17 percent of Trump voters and 30 percent of evangelical white Protestants agree (as do 56 percent of non-graduates and 50 percent of seniors).

On which is the bigger problem, men say media falsehoods by 6 percentage points; women (who are more apt to be Democrats) say Trump falsehoods by an 11-point margin. And there’s a racial and ethnic gulf: whites are more apt, by 12 points, to see false media reports as the bigger problem. Hispanics instead say administration falsehoods are the bigger problem, by a 19-point margin. Blacks do so by a vast 53 points, 70-17 percent. On these, like so many current political issues, what respondents believed depended to a great extent on where they were coming from.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone April 17-20, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,004 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-24-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, New York, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Chaffetz will be absent from DC for up to four weeks for foot surgery

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz will be out of commission for up to four weeks as he heads back to his home state of Utah for “immediate foot surgery,” he announced in an Instagram post Wednesday night.

“Almost 12 years ago, I shattered several bones in my foot which required 14 screws and a metal plate to repair,” Chaffetz explains in his post, alongside an X-ray of his foot. “Yes, I wish I could say I was cliff diving in Mexico but the truth is I fell off a ladder while repairing something in my garage.”

He continues, “The University of Utah doctors now recommend immediate surgery to remove all the hardware or I could be at risk for serious infection. My recovery is expected to take three to four weeks.”

Chaffetz, 50, acknowledges now isn’t the best time to be absent from the nation’s capital.

“I’m sorry to miss the important work we are doing in Washington,” he writes. “This is not an opportune time to be away but medical emergencies are never convenient. I appreciate my constituent’s patience and understanding as I take time to recover.”

Chaffetz’s announcement comes a week after he revealed that he will not run for re-election in 2018.

“After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018,” he wrote in an April 19 Facebook post.

He didn’t close the door on politics, though, writing, “I may run again for public office, but not in 2018. For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives. I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Trump to continue paying ObamaCare subsidies

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Democrats say the White House has signaled that the cost-sharing reduction subsidy payments from Obamacare will continue even if language guaranteeing them is not included in the government funding bill.

The latest move by the White House removes a major obstacle in budget talks between Republicans and Democrats ahead of the funding deadline on Friday, and significantly lowers the odds of a government shutdown.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus relayed the news to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi over the telephone Wednesday, according to Democratic aides.

“Our major concerns in these negotiations have been about funding for the wall and uncertainty about the CSR payments crucial to the stability of the marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We’ve now made progress on both of these fronts.”

At a minimum, this means the administration will continue making the payments until the end of May, when the administration has to provide a status update to the court.

Appropriators are continuing to negotiate in a bipartisan fashion on a catch-all spending bill to fund the government through September.

In the event that the House and Senate cannot clear a measure by the midnight Friday deadline, Congress could pass a week-long stopgap measure that funds the government at current levels to give appropriators more time to finish negotiations.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Trump gives Pentagon authority to set troop levels in Syria and Iraq

zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Trump has delegated to the Pentagon the authority to set the American military troop levels in Iraq and Syria. The move restores a process that was in place prior to the Bush and Obama administrations and is another sign of how the White House is giving military commanders greater flexibility in their operations.

“The President has delegated the authority for Force Management Levels (FML) for Iraq and Syria to the Secretary,” said Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, referring to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Davis said the authority is being returned to the Pentagon where it had typically existed prior to the Bush and Obama administrations.

“It’s as much about auditability as it is authority,” said Mattis. “The Secretary wants to ensure that we had a way to clearly understand the forces we have there and how they’re being used.”

The adjustment does not mean that the numbers of troops in Iraq and Syria is going to change “nor does it change the process by which we will manage those forces” said Davis.

The Pentagon is currently authorized to have 5,262 American military forces in Iraq and 503 for Syria to train, advise and assist the Iraqi military and Syrian rebel forces fighting ISIS.

But the number of troops in those countries is actually higher because additional forces on temporary assignments lasting less than 180 days are not counted as part of the official Force Management Level. That means there are more than 6,000 American troops in Iraq and more than 900 American troops in Syria.

The capping of troops has also meant that some of the support and maintenance duties that would have been handled by military personnel are handled by contractors.

The delegation of the authority of Force Management Levels in Iraq and Syria was first reported by Buzzfeed News.

The Pentagon will now review the current system that has incrementally increased troop levels in the fight against ISIS and come up with its own system.

“It will account for the fact that there will be enduring baseline numbers and that there will be temporary enhancements above those,” said Davis.

“Bringing the authority really back here where it’s historically been enables military commanders to be more agile, to more quickly and efficiently support partners, to have more rapid decision-making, and to keep units together,” said Davis.

“This is not new,” he added. “It simply restores authority and it’s a more effective way of managing it.”

Mattis will be able to set troop levels in Iraq and Syria, but the broad strokes for the American military missions there will still be closely coordinated by the administration and other agencies.

The delegation of authority does not apply to Afghanistan where the number of troops is capped at 8,440. The Trump administration is currently reviewing its Afghanistan strategy and the authority for setting troop strengths there will still be handled by the White House.

The top U.S. military commander recently told a congressional panel that he would like to see additional troops to assist with the train and advise mission in Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Experts weigh in on impact of Trump’s tax plan

The CrimsonRibbon/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Experts are already taking issue with President Trump’s newly-released tax plan — in particular the White House’s claim that economic growth would offset huge losses in government revenue from the proposed corporate tax cuts.

The plan calls for the corporate tax rate to be slashed from 35 percent to 15 percent. And the new plan would consolidate the seven tax brackets for individuals and reduce them to only three brackets: a 10-percent bracket, a 25-percent bracket and a 35-percent bracket.

Right now, the highest individual federal income tax rate is just shy of 40 percent. Trump’s plan also doubles the standard deduction, meaning that a married couple would pay no taxes on the first $24,000 they earn.

The plan, summarized on just one page to reporters at the White House, lacks many of the details needed to make projections about its long-term effects.

Alex Raskolniknov, a tax professor at Columbia Law School, was alarmed by the lack of precision in the plan. “If this were any other president, this would have been a huge embarrassment of a “plan,'” he wrote to ABC News. “He’s had more detail in his tax plan when he was running for president. What was all the hype about this time? … It’s hard to take this seriously … except it comes from the President of the United States.”

And every expert who spoke to ABC News said that the plan would result in a large drop in federal government revenue and a spike in the federal budget deficit.

“This is all candy and no vegetables,” said Marc Goldwein, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Goldwein said he thinks a 25-percent to 28-percent corporate tax rate would strike a good balance between economic competitiveness and fiscal responsibility.

Economists have estimated that Trump’s tax plan could cost between $2 and $7 trillion over the next decade. An analysis by the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., concludes that a 15 percent corporate tax rate would reduce federal revenue by about $2 trillion over a decade, while the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center puts that estimate at $6 trillion. The bi-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget offers a range of costs from between 3 and 7 trillion dollars in lost revenue over the next decade.

“This is probably not to be taken seriously. It’s too huge a revenue loss. It is so fiscally reckless that it appears to be willful sabotage of the U.S. economy,” said Daniel Shaviro, a tax professor at NYU Law School.

Economist Doug Holtz-Eakin, who leads the Congressional Budget Office under former President George W. Bush, agreed that the economic growth won’t be enough to offset the massive loss of revenue.

“Passing genuine tax reform would include structural changes. As long as those are not included, it is not reform. This bill as presented would add to the deficit. Growth alone cannot account for the loss of revenue from tax cuts. This means it cannot pass the reconciliation process and will not be able to become law,” said Holtz-Eakin.

“There was no thoughtfulness to this. It’s just cutting tax rates and wishful thinking about economic growth,” said Steven Rosenthal from the Tax Policy Center. “All they can came up with was one page of platitudes.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin argued that economic growth will pay for most of the massive tax cuts. “This will pay for itself with growth and with reduction of different deductions and closing loopholes,” he said at the White House briefing today.

Some experts agree that the U.S. corporate tax rate needs to be lowered to make the American businesses climate more competitive. While the highest American corporate tax rate is 35 percent, the average effective corporate rate in the U.S. is 29 percent, the third highest in the G-20, said Goldwein.

While lower taxes can lead to higher growth, there’s also a “fiscal drag,” said Daniel Shaviro, a tax professor at Columbia Law School. “There’s crowd-out, because there’s so much public debt and that takes money from private investment and bids up interest rates.”

The experts also cautioned that lowering the tax rate for “pass-through entities” — like sole proprietorships, partnerships, hedge funds and real estate concerns — could cause troubling distortions and further inflate the deficit. The Trump administration has proposed dropping the tax rate for these businesses from up to 39.6 percent to just 15 percent.

“You could have partners in law firms and surgeons paying less than their secretaries,” said Shaviro. “Very wealthy people can set up phony structuring to make themselves ‘self-employed,’” he added. “It’s like a fine for being an employee — the government is saying ‘we hate employees, so we’re punishing you for not working for yourself.’”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Senators describe ‘long and detailed’ White House briefing on North Korea

eurobanks/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Several Senate Republicans described the full Senate briefing on North Korea at the White House Wednesday as a thorough accounting of the administration’s diplomatic and military options when it comes to dealing with Kim Jong Un.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called it “a long and detailed briefing.”

“The military is obviously planning for a number of options, as they should — minimal military action to more significant action,” Cruz said. “It’s of course the hope of the administration and Congress that military action isn’t necessary. If there’s a clear and imminent threat to the U.S., our military needs to be prepared to act and I believe they are prepared to act to keep our country safe.”

The senators were invited at the personal invitation of President Donald Trump after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, requested a briefing. The president stopped by the briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds.

Gardner said that one takeaway from the meeting was that “we are a long ways away from exercising all of our options on the diplomatic side.”

“There were great questions within the briefing from both sides of the aisles,” Gardener said. “It shows how important this issue is, to have that team assembled to talk about this and make sure North Korea knows they won’t get away with this.”

Separately, a senior administration official told ABC News that part of the current concern about North Korea comes from China’s view of North Korea as a threat.

“I think what’s different about how China is viewing the problem in North Korea today is that China is viewing that problem as the threat not only to U.S. interests and security or South Korean or Japanese interests and security, but also a threat to Chinese interests and security and so I think that is a big shift in and of itself,” the senior administration official told ABC News.

White House officials say the South Auditorium would be turned into a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or “SCIF,” and the briefing will be led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats.

When asked about the bus ride to the White House ground for the meeting, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, said it was “a unique approach to a classified briefing.”

Using the White House grounds for a full briefing with the Senate is a rare move, but administration officials told ABC News that too much shouldn’t be read into the choice of location.

Officials said that after hearing of McConnell’s request, the president suggested nonchalantly that the senators should come to the White House because he’s a “gracious host.” Trump has cultivated a reputation in his meetings at the White House for relishing the opportunity to show off his historic digs.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

US commander suggests missile defense in Hawaii amid N. Korea threat

3DSculptor/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — North Korea’s ballistic missile threats towards the United States may one day match its rhetoric, the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific told a Congressional panel, and to ensure defenses are at their best, he suggested placing ground-based missile interceptors in Hawaii.

Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), also told the House Armed Services Committee that he is “encouraged” by China’s recent efforts to influence North Korean behavior and he believes that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “has noticed a change is afoot with regard to China.”

Harris called defending the U.S. homeland his “top priority.”

In light of that, he said, “I must assume that the Kim Jong Un’s nuclear claims are true, I know his aspirations certainly are.”

Harris noted “a mismatch” between North Korea’s long range missile and nuclear capabilities and Kim Jong Un’s threatening rhetoric towards other countries in the region and the United States.

“I can’t read his mind, all I can do is understand what he says,” he added.

“With every test, Kim Jong Un moves closer to his stated goal of a preemptive nuclear strike capability against American cities and he’s not afraid to fail in public,” said Harris.

Over the past year North Korea’s missile program has apparently progressed, despite some spectacular launch failures involving intermediate range mobile launched missiles.

While ground-based missile interceptors at U.S. bases in Alaska and California provide enough coverage to defend the U.S. mainland from a potential North Korean missile strike, Harris believes they might not be enough to fully defend Hawaii in the future.

The PACOM commander told the committee that North Korea is “clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today.”

“I believe that our ballistic missile architecture is sufficient to protect Hawaii today, but it can be overwhelmed,” Harris said. “Somewhere, we would have to make a decision about which missiles to take out and that’s a hard decision.”

“I have suggested that we consider putting interceptors in Hawaii that defend Hawaii directly,” he said. “We need more interceptors.”

More defensive radars would also be necessary for the state, Harris said.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea will be operational “in the coming days,” he told the committee. Components for the system arrived in South Korea in early March and on Tuesday they were deployed.

The system’s deployment is controversial in South Korea, where it has become an issue in the upcoming presidential elections.

The deployment has also drawn major criticism from China that sees the anti-missile system’s long-range radar capability being used to track China’s own missile systems.

Despite the friction with China over THAAD, Harris has been “encouraged” by China’s recent contacts with North Korea to try to influence its behavior.

“China is doing things,” he noted without providing details.

“I think we’re in a good place,” said Harris. “I’m reasonably optimistic now that China is having an influence and they’re working in the right direction with regards to North Korea thanks to the efforts by our president and theirs.”

“We’ll just have to see how this goes,” Harris said. “I’m encouraged and I believe KJU (Kim Jong Un) has noticed a change is afoot with regard to China.”

Harris pointed out that China can use its economic leverage with North Korea since 80 percent of the North Korean economy is based on interactions with China. “I believe that’s a significant lever China could employ against North Korea,” he said.

Harris also took responsibility for the mixed messaging over the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson’s announced deployment to the Korean peninsula earlier this month.

“That’s my fault on the confusion, and I’ll take the hit for it,” said Harris. “I made the decision to pull the Carl Vinson out of Singapore, truncate the exercise that it was going to do south of Singapore, cancel its port visit to Australia and then proceed north.”

A Navy press release issued on April 8 seemed to indicate that the aircraft carrier would be sent north to the Korean peninsula after a port visit to Singapore. But in fact the carrier and other supporting ships did not head north until almost 10 days later after it completed a scheduled exercise with the Australian Navy.

“Where I failed, was to communicate that adequately to the press and media,” Harris told the Committee. “So that is all on me.”

“But we’ve done exactly that,” said Harris, adding that the carrier is east of Okinawa, Japan, in the Philippine Sea, “in striking range, in power-projection range of North Korea if called upon to that.” He said the carrier is expected to move north in a few days.

Harris also called the guided missile submarine USS Michigan’s port visit to Busan, South Korea a “show of solidarity” with that country — as well as a “show of force” should North Korea consider aggression against South Korea.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Trump has ‘no intention’ of releasing tax returns, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says

Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Trump has “no intention” of releasing his tax returns, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Wednesday.

“The president has no intention. The president has released plenty of information and I think it’s given more financial disclosure than anybody else and the population has plenty of information,” Mnuchin said when pressed by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl at a White House briefing on whether the U.S. public has the right to know what’s in Trump’s tax returns.

Asked a follow-up question by ABC News’ Cecilia Vega citing the president’s 2005 tax returns, Mnuchin brushed off her query and ended the briefing.

“What this is about is creating jobs and creating economic growth,” he said amid the unveiling of the White House’s sweeping new tax overhaul plan. “And that’s what massive tax cuts and massive tax reform in simplifying the system is what we’re going to do.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

White House unveils tax plan touting ‘massive’ cuts

(WASHINGTON) — The White House unveiled its much-anticipated tax reform plan Wednesday, outlining dramatic cuts in federal taxes for businesses while aiming to simplify the code for individuals.

Gary Cohn, White House Chief Economic Adviser, said the plan marks “one of the biggest tax cuts” in U.S. history. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really big,” he said in the White House press briefing.

Administration officials are calling this a “first draft” — an outline of priorities and principles.

“Under the Trump plan, we will have a massive tax cut for businesses,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The new plan will have three personal tax brackets — 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent.

The corporate tax rate would be slashed to 15 percent under the plan.

President Trump’s tax reform plan- just handed out by the wh .. on a single page pic.twitter.com/FyL9Scq8UT

— Cecilia Vega (@CeciliaVega) April 26, 2017

In the final hours leading up to its release, some key parts were still a work in progress.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Congresswomen meet to discuss missing women of color

SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Following last month’s spike in social media awareness around potential missing teens in the nation’s capital, Congresswomen and law enforcement representatives convened on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to discuss better ways to help the thousands of missing children and women of color across the nation.

While D.C. Police Youth and Family Services Commander Chanel Dickerson clarified that the social media rumors of an increase in missing D.C. teens are untrue, she made it clear that even one missing teen is too much.

“Actually it’s a decrease. But when we talk about numbers, I’m not trying to minimize when I say there’s not an up-tick or there’s been a decrease,” ABC News affiliate WJLA reported Dickerson saying. “It’s just that we wanted to be transparent and input it out so everyone can see.”

According to local police data, the number of missing child cases in D.C. dropped from 2,433 in 2015 to 2,242 in 2016. However, last month’s increased social media attention around the issue drew eyes to the nation’s capital, which is currently about 50 percent black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

During a press conference, Dickerson said that, although D.C. has investigated more than 19,000 missing person cases in the last five years, only 16 of those cases remain open.

“But one person missing in the District of Columbia is one person too many,” she said, according to WJLA.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., and Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., plan to continue the “one person too many” conversation with a panel that will bring together members of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, law enforcement representatives, educators, representatives from historically black colleges and other community leaders.

During the event, leaders plan to discuss some of the elements that may contribute to this issue, including economic disadvantages, the disparate treatment of missing black women and girls by police and the lack of public awareness around the missing individuals.

According to the Black and Missing Foundation, an organization that raises awareness about missing black people nationwide, 37 percent of missing people in the United States are minorities.

Derrica Wilson, CEO and co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, told ABC News, “We all know that Black and Latinos, or any person of color, who go missing oftentimes do not receive the much needed media coverage, which could drastically increase the odds of their safe recovery.”

The convening this afternoon will include two panels focused on fact-finding and best practices to advise lawmakers on proposals designed to help reconcile the disparity of attention.

The conversation will be held at the Library of Congress, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST, and will be live streamed on the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls’ Facebook page.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →