VIDEO: Speaker Boehner shows reporter how to tie his tie properly

Published: Thursday, May 09, 2013 @ 11:54 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 09, 2013 @ 12:50 PM

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., is known on Capitol Hill for his dapper look and perfectly tied neckwear.

Recently after an interview with Peter Cook of Bloomberg News, Boehner gave the reporter a lesson in how to tie the perfect knot.

“You don’t have a dimple. You’ve got to have a dimple in it,” Boehner said.

Trump voting commission criticized for lack of transparency

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 5:43 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 5:43 PM


            Trump voting commission criticized for lack of transparency. Getty image
Trump voting commission criticized for lack of transparency. Getty image

President Donald Trump’s advisory commission on election integrity has integrity questions of its own — with some of its own members raising concerns about its openness.

This past week, two members fired off letters to commission staff complaining about a lack of information about the panel’s agenda and demanding answers about its activities. That comes as Democratic U.S. senators are requesting a government investigation of the commission for ignoring formal requests from Congress.

The criticism from the commissioners was remarkable because it came from insiders — the very people who are supposed to be privy to its internal discussions and plans.

In a letter sent Oct. 17, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said it was clear he was not being made aware of information pertaining to the commission. He requested copies of all correspondence between commission members since Trump signed the executive order creating it in May.

“I am in a position where I feel compelled to inquire after the work of the commission upon which I am sworn to serve, and am yet completely uninformed as to its activities,” Dunlap wrote in his letter to Andrew Kossack, the commission’s executive director.

He said he had received no information about the commission’s research or activities since its last meeting, on Sept. 12. He also said he continued to receive media inquiries about commission developments “that I as a commissioner am blind to.”

A commissioner from Alabama, Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan L. King, said he sent a similar letter late last week. He said the only information he has received since the commission’s meeting more than a month ago was an email informing him of the death of a fellow commissioner, former Arkansas state lawmaker David Dunn.

“Here I am on this high-level government committee, and I don’t know when the next meetings are or how many meetings there will be,” he said in a telephone interview. “I am in the dark on what will happen from this point on, to tell you the truth.”

King and Dunlap are two of four Democrats on the 11-member commission.

Requests for comment sent to Kossack, the commission’s executive director, and the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, were not returned.

J. Christian Adams, a commission member who was a Justice Department attorney under former President George W. Bush, said in an email that all commissioners were receiving the same information.

“Once upon a time election integrity was bipartisan,” Adams said in the email. “Apparently not all agree. That’s a shame.”

The commission has stirred controversy from the moment it was established last spring. Critics say Trump is using it to find support for his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud that cost him the popular vote during the 2016 election. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more votes nationwide than Trump.

While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the U.S., there is no evidence of it being a widespread problem, as Trump suggests.

Critics argue the commission is stacked with people who favor voting restrictions, rather than those who want to expand access, and that the commission has a predetermined agenda that will result in recommendations making it more difficult for people to register to vote, stay registered and cast ballots.

Its first significant action was to request a wide range of information about all registered voters in every state, including partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and voting history. The commission scaled back its response after stinging criticism. A tally by Associated Press reporters nationwide shows that 15 states denied the request, raising questions about how useful the information will be.

In August, the AP filed a records request with the commission under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The law specifies that agencies — including presidential commissions — have 20 business days to respond or 10 calendar days if the request was filed on an expedited basis, as the AP’s was. To date, the AP has received no response from the commission despite multiple attempts to get one.

The commission’s secrecy prompted a lawsuit by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which alleges the commission is violating federal open meetings and disclosure laws.

The group’s executive director, Kristen Clarke, said she was hard-pressed to think of another commission that had acted in such secrecy.

“We have found that, in every respect, this commission has been carrying out its activities in an almost covert fashion,” she said.

The lack of openness even applies to members of Congress.

Democratic senators have filed at least five separate requests for information with the commission since June, and a Sept. 12 follow-up letter noted that none of those had received a response.

“The Commission has not responded to a single letter from Senators with oversight jurisdiction over the Commission and continues to be rebuked for its questionable activities,” said the letter by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Last week, a group of three Democratic senators wrote the Government Accountability Office seeking an investigation into the commission because of its lack responsiveness and transparency. The letter signed by Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Klobuchar cited a lack of transparency on the commission and concern that its conclusions would diminish confidence in the democratic process.

“It is incredible that they are not responding to any of this stuff, and that’s why it’s appropriate for GAO to take a look,” Bennet said in an interview.

A job for voters – get yourself ready for the details of tax reform

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 5:50 PM

As the Congress gets moving in coming weeks on the first serious effort at tax reform since the mid-1980’s, it is important for the folks back home to remember one thing – while the focus for many Americans will be on the individual tax rates and changes that impact every day taxpayers, this package is likely to be about so much more than just that, as a look back at the big tax bills of the Reagan Administration so easily demonstrates.

“I will tell you, our country needs tax cuts,” the President said in recent days, making the case that tax reform will spur economic growth in the United States.

“We’re fighting for lower taxes, big tax cuts, the biggest tax cuts in the history of our nation. We’re fighting for tax reform, as part of that,” Mr. Trump said.

And so, the voters have a bit of a homework assignment, because tax reform is about a lot more than just cutting the tax rate that Joe Six Pack and his wife pay to Uncle Sam.

The 1980’s were an active time for the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee – those are the panels in charge of writing tax measures in the Congress.

During the Reagan Administration, we had three major tax bills become law:

+ The Reagan tax cuts of 1981, the “Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981.”

+ The next year, there was a major bill to increase taxes, the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982.”

+ Then, both parties came together for major changes to the Internal Revenue Code with the 1986 Tax Reform Act.

If you look at the 1986 Act, it starts with something that may end up being a prime focus in 2017:

Sec. 101. Rate Reductions
Sec. 102. Increase in standard deduction

But there is so much more that is involved in that 879 page bill, just as there was so much more than individual matters in the 1981 and 1982 tax bills.

The 1986 bill had provisions on capital gains, real estate, business tax credits, investment tax credit, depreciation, energy, agriculture, limits on certain tax shelters, provisions affecting life insurance, pensions, foreign tax provisions, and on, and on, and on.

Lots of people have told me in recent years of how lawmakers should “read the bill.”

Well, the last three big tax measures from the 1980’s are all linked on this page.

Read the bills.

And start realizing just how complicated this can be on tax reform.

North Carolina politician sparks controversy with tweet comparing Trump to Hitler

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Charlotte councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted a controversial tweet.
WSOCTV.com
Charlotte councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted a controversial tweet.(WSOCTV.com)

A Charlotte city councilwoman is under scrutiny for a controversial tweet she posted comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted the tweet Friday morning, which reads in part: “For All who read about Hitler you are Now Living how he reigned in #45."

WSOC spoke with members of the community for reactions to Mayfield’s statement.

"I don't think it's appropriate,” Charlotte resident Ulga Mazets said. 

Mazets is from eastern Europe and said her family was impacted by Hitler’s reign.

“My grandfather was in (a) concentration camp, so I feel it's a very harsh comparison,” she said.

>> Read more trending news

Others felt the comparison was inappropriate but said Mayfield had the right to make it.

“Everybody got their own opinion,” a Charlotte resident said.

Earlier this year, one of Mayfield’s fellow council members, Dimple Ajmera, landed in hot water when she said Trump supporters have no place leading Charlotte government.

[READ MORE: Councilwoman receives death threats following Trump comments]

Ironically, Mayfield just called for an investigation into a Charlotte Housing Authority worker who allegedly posted a tweet on Facebook applauding the death of Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot by police during an incident that sparked a nationwide debate.

University of North Carolina - Charlotte professor Anita Blanchard said these types of comments on social media are becoming more common.

She said leaders and those who use social media platforms should learn to be more media savvy.

“Finding a way to say something that’s not rude that still gets your point across,” she said.

Mayfield didn’t immediately respond to Channel 9’s calls about the tweet, but she tweeted again Friday afternoon saying, “I wish the media would question #45 about why we were in Niger.”

Mayfield is up for re-election. Her Republican opponent Daniel Herrera sent WSOC the following statement:

"I have heard of my opponent's divisive, and inflammatory tweet of political rhetoric comparing the President of the United States to Hitler, pure evil and everything President Trump and I stand to oppose. 

While LaWana Mayfield only wishes to divide our community by using the power of fear to distract from her failures. I stand to change and unite District Three. I will move us forward with policies that support safer streets that allow mail to be delivered and not canceled because of street violence. I have a real plan to promote affordable housing rather than subsidized soccer stadiums that only support the developers who own her vote. I will always represent my faith and never write a policy like her devastating bathroom bill, the one she spearheaded and forced upon our Queen City and which brought so much distrain to our community.

Shame on Mayfield for her continuation of divisive political tactics. Shame on her for disrespecting the over 400,000 Defenders of Freedom who fell beneath our flag to defeat Hitler." 

Mayfield's statement in response to the backlash:

"The Constitutional right of "Free Speech" is a precious and uniquely beloved gift among Americans. With this gift of free speech comes great responsibility. To some, I did not express that responsibly within the limited characters of my earlier tweet. I apologize for the brevity of my statement due to being limited to 140 characters. Many times, we cannot fully express intent or emotion through this limited platform."

"I do not want to diminish the heinous treatment and genocide that our Jewish brothers and sisters experienced at the hands of this dictator nor do I want to further create a dialogue that does not focus on the facts at hand."

"Today, we read about history as a story in a book and sometimes disassociate from the realities of lives impacted. Our communities must unite and realize that at this intersectionality of both conservative and liberal, white and people of color, gay or straight, young and seniors, these variances and diverse populations have strength when they unite in one voice."

"My anger and passion when tweeting was directed to those that continue to make excuses for a man who is leading our Nation in a divisive direction. His policies, the creation of the 'Birther movement,' executive orders and continual mistreatment of marginalized communities has quickly eroded the landscape of civility and civil discourse in our society. 

"I value the diversity of my community, work to be inclusive and give voice to those that are not at the table and bring equity to this city that I love.""While my words chosen have offended some, my intent was to bring attention to the continued crisis that we face each day while this president is leading us. My post angered some and I stay in a state of anger every day I watch the news and this like many posts was shared to shine a light on hypocrisy and the discourse rising in our nation."

House aims for quick final budget vote next week to accelerate tax reform

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 7:33 PM

A day after Senate approval of a budget outline for 2018 that authorizes expedited work on a tax reform plan- without the threat of a Senate filibuster – House GOP leaders set the table for a vote next week on the budget measure, instead of engaging in House-Senate negotiations that could take several weeks, as Republicans look to generate more momentum for the first major tax reforms since 1986.

Friday afternoon, House GOP leaders signaled their plan to simply accept the budget plan passed 51-49 by the Senate, setting a Tuesday meeting of the House Rules Committee, which sets the ground rules for bills on the floor of the House.

“We want Americans to wake up in the new year with a new tax code, one that is simple and fair,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “Now it is time to meet this moment and deliver real relief to hardworking people.”

Approval of the Senate-passed plan would allow tax-writing committees in both the House and Senate to get to work on the actual details of tax reform; what’s been released so far is an outline, but not the fine print.

“This is another important milestone for tax reform, and sets the stage for us to pass major tax cuts that will deliver more jobs and higher wages for hardworking Americans all over the country,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

As for Democrats, some feel like they are being set up by the GOP, predicting that Republicans will unveil their tax reform bill, and then demand a vote on it days later.

“I am perfectly willing to negotiate,” said Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO). “I can’t do it in a vacuum.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” McCaskill told reporters. “Why can’t we have a bill?”

When you look back at the 1986 Tax Reform Act – that took months to make its way through the House and Senate, and then a conference committee for final negotiations.

Need some weekend reading? Here is the link to the explanation of the 1986 Tax Reform Act – it’s only a little under 1,400 pages.

It’s a gentle reminder that if you do ‘real’ tax reform – it is a very complicated endeavor.