Trump Headlines in September 2017: North Korea, Puerto Rico, NFL, Tax Plan & Healthcare Top U.S. President’s Mistakes

Trump Headlines September 2017
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September’s Trump Headlines Highlight Presidential Missteps

Donald Trump has been U.S. president for eight months, and September might have been the worst month so far, and that can be reflected by all the Trump headlines we’ve seen. President Trump is used to making the headlines, but in the ninth month of 2017, it was for all the wrong reasons. American voters are getting used to Trump’s knee-jerk comments, but that doesn’t mean his words aren’t dividing the nation. In September alone, Trump’s posturing on North Korea, Puerto Rico, the NFL, the recently unveiled tax plan, and the failure of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill illustrates how bad things are right now in the U.S.

Trump Tweets: Declares War on Nuclear-Armed North Korea

If you’re a normal citizen and make comments about North Korea, no one really pays attention. But when you’re the president of the United States, your words, tweets, and actions can have devastating consequences. Especially when you’re dealing with two outspoken leaders with thin skin.

Everyone is used to the leader of the “hermit nation” blustering about how strong his country is and that the rest of the world better take heed if it doesn’t want to be turned into dust.

There is reason to be concerned when it comes to North Korea’s military might. The country is led by an unstable leader who has at his command one of the world’s largest conventional military forces, intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the U.S., nuclear weapons, and electromagnetic pulse bombs.

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Past American presidents understand that this is just the posturing of a bellicose leader who hides behind the protection of China and Russia. And, for the most part, they don’t engage. But not this time around.

Over the last month, Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have been in a sparring match unrivaled in American politics, with both of them ratcheting up the rhetoric at every turn.

In his first address to the United Nations on September 19, President Trump said, “the scourge of our planet today are a small group of rogue regimes.” Zeroing in on the dictator, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea.

In addition to saying “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said the U.S. was, “ready, willing, and able” to take military action.

This did not sit well with North Korea. Kim Jong-un responded saying he would, “surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”

The personal insults have put the U.S. in a precarious position.

On September 19, Trump tweeted:

A few days later, on September 23, Trump tweeted:

North Korea foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said that Trump had issued a “clear declaration of war.”

Taunting foreign leaders isn’t the best diplomatic channel to take, especially when dealing with an isolated nation like North Korea. But Trump has been taking the bait.

Trump Slow to Respond to Puerto Rico Crisis

The Puerto Rico crisis is another event recently making it to Trump headlines across all media. Distracted by North Korea and professional athletes who won’t stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner,” President Trump’s response to Puerto Rico, a territory of the U.S. with 3.5 million American citizens, was staggeringly slow.

To recap, on September 20, just one day after Trump addressed the United Nations saying he was looking out for American interests, the tiny commonwealth island of Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. The Category 4 storm, with winds of 155 miles an hour, was the strongest storm to hit the island since 1928.

In addition to deaths and injuries, the island lost its electricity supply (which might not be fully restored for six months), its infrastructure is in ruins, and its agricultural and manufacturing sectors have ground to a halt.

The humanitarian disaster could end up costing Puerto Rico upwards of $95.0 billion. This will further exacerbate the country’s flailing economy, which has been in a recession for 11 years, and certainly send the country’s unemployment rate, which is already at 10.1%, significantly higher.

How did President Trump respond to the situation in Puerto Rico? It was markedly different from how he responded after Hurricane Harvey carved through Texas and Louisiana and the destructive path Hurricane Irma had across Florida.

On September 20, Trump tweeted:

A few days later, Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico’s “broken infrastructure & massive debt:”

In the days following Hurricane Maria, Trump refused to send additional aid to Puerto Rico, citing business interests. And by that, he meant not waiving the Jones Act. The Jones Act of 1920 stipulates that transportation of passengers or cargo between coastal points on U.S. soil is restricted to ships that were built in the U.S, co-owned, and fly the American flag.

Trump decided against waiving the Jones Act because, “a lot of people that work in the shipping industry…don’t want the Jones Act lifted.”

Lifting the Jones Act is not a rare event. In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Department of Homeland Security waived the statue in order for more ships to carry fuel to areas of Texas and Florida.

So it wasn’t the act of lifting the Jones Act that was an issue, it was how it would affect U.S. businesses. Lifting the Jones Act would mean cheaper international ships operated by foreign workers could temporarily crowd out American vessels.

Trump also blamed the Atlantic Ocean for making it difficult to get aid to Puerto Rico. Trump said, “It’s the most difficult job because it’s on the island, it’s on an island in the middle of the ocean.”

It might be on an island, but it’s hardly in the middle of the ocean; it’s in the Caribbean, just east of Cuba and the Dominican Republic, an area popular with cruise ships. And if need be, I’m sure Trump would send ships to Cuba in a heartbeat if a regime change was possible.

Amid the outrage, President Trump acquiesced on September 28, eight days after the hurricane struck, and temporarily lifted the Jones Act:

The waiver only lasts for 10 days. Lawmakers had been pushing for a one-year waiver.

Trump’s apparent apathy toward Puerto Rico and blaming the island for its economic woes is seen as being a little rich when you consider he left taxpayers with a $33.0-million bill.

In 2008, Trump took control of the failing Coco Beach Golf course in Puerto Rico, and, as he is wont to do, renamed it the Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico and vowed to revitalize it. That didn’t happen.

Despite borrowing billions of dollars in government-backed bonds to finance the operations, expenses increased by 22% (along with Trump’s management fees) and the business filed for bankruptcy. In 2011, Trump’s golf course defaulted and in 2015 filed for bankruptcy, thus, leaving cash-strapped Puerto Rican taxpayers to foot the nearly $33.0-million bill, further exacerbating the nation’s struggling economy.

Trump vs. NFL: U.S. President Creates a Racial Divide

Another memorable example of Trump headlines this month. Amid rising tensions with North Korea and the devastation in Puerto Rico, it seems the biggest issue on Trump’s mind in September was the NFL and the players and owners who refused to stand for the national anthem. Or rather, his disdain for NFL players and owners who decided to kneel or lock arms in silent protest against police brutality against blacks and other minorities.

While athletes have chosen their respective fields to stand up for what they believe in, fans and politicians say it is unpatriotic.

On September 23, President Trump waded into the national anthem debate by tweeting:

As the days wore on, Trump added fuel to the fire tweeting:

In the span of just a couple weeks, president Trump has used patriotism to attack prominent black sports figures and divide the country. While college and professional sports may be one of the biggest unifiers in the nation, those on the sporting field are not an accurate representation of the broader U.S. population.

A full 70% of NFL players are black and nearly 75% of NBA players are. Criticizing athletes for kneeling or silently protesting is not exactly being seen as an objective political or cultural protest.

Trump, said recently, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired.’”

Trump’s fight against America’s black athletes is not going away any time soon. Criticizing Trump is not an effective way of helping the president see the light or change his ways; it just fuels his anger. Why he thinks attacking professional athletes will lead to change is unclear.

Trump’s Tax Plan 2017 Benefits Wealthy & Himself

Trump, who has touted himself as a blue-collar billionaire, recently unveiled his long-awaited tax plan. According to the nine-page outline, the president said the tax cuts would fuel growth, increase investment, and create widespread prosperity.

Trump’s tax proposal is only in the early stages, but many analysts say the upside to his tax cuts is limited because the U.S. economy is already throwing up solid numbers when it comes to employment and economic growth.

Regardless, Trump maintains that his tax cuts are really good for middle-class Americans. When it comes to whether wealthy Americans will benefit, Trump has said, “it’s not good for me. Believe me.”

The early evidence doesn’t support the president’s assertions. First, no one knows if it will or won’t benefit the president because he’s never released his taxes.

When it comes to the actual tax plan, though, most do not think it will benefit the middle class very much and will definitely not benefit the bottom third of the population. Those that benefit the most, though, are the wealthiest people in America.

Here are a few ways Trump’s proposed tax plan will benefit the wealthy:

Tax Cuts for the Wealthy: Trump’s plan collapses the number of tax brackets from seven to three. Individual tax rates would be 12%, 25%, and 35% (down from 39.6%).

Unfortunately, the plan does not set the income level at which the rates apply. The 39.6% rate used to apply for individuals who earned above $418,000 or married couples who earned $470,700. It’s quite possible the new rates will provide the rich with an even bigger tax cut.

Estate Tax Gone: Eliminating the estate tax sounds like a good idea. Americans who pass on money, homes, and other assets to their heirs when they die to pay a 40% tax. However, the only people who have to pay this tax are those passing on more than $5.49 million. A married couple can inherit close to $11.0 million without paying the tax. It’s safe to say the estate tax does not hurt the average American family or small business owner. According to one study, out of the 3 million estates, only 5,500 will pay any estate tax this year. Of those, only 80, or 1.4%, are farms or small businesses.

Alternative Minimum Tax Gone: The alternative minimum tax (ATM) was put into place to make sure wealthy Americans can’t use loopholes and credits to lower their taxes. The ATM kicks in for people who earn $130,000, but the majority of people subject to the AMT make over $500,000. Trump’s (leaked) tax records from 2005 show that the AMT increased his tax bill to $36.5 million from $5.3 million. In 2005, had the AMT not been in place, Trump would have pocketed $31.0 million.

Trump’s Healthcare Mess: Graham-Cassidy Vs. Obamacare

Yet another one for the Trump headlines books. Trump’s effort to repeal Obamacare has failed for the second time. In fact, the Senate didn’t even vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill because three Republican senators refused to support the bill.

Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she couldn’t support the bill as it stands because too many Americans would lose their health insurance. She also said the proposed cuts to Medicaid were too steep and the bill does not go far enough to protect those with preexisting conditions. Meanwhile, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky also opposed the legislation.

Trump has been a huge critic of John McCain over the years. With regards to repealing Obamacare, Trump tweeted:

Collins joins Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona have both said they would oppose the legislation. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said he would not support the legislation as currently written.

McCain and Collins, along with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against a bill to repeal Obamacare in July, preventing the bill’s passage in Senate.

Whether the Republicans will try to repeal Obamacare again remains to be seen, but it seems a certainty. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to “replace and repeal” Obamacare with something “terrific.” After two failed attempts, Trump may just let Obamacare fail on its own. And when it does, he said, “Democrats are going to come to us.”

Not even Rand Paul escaped Trump’s criticism:

The failure to repeal Obamacare, again, is another example of Trump’s inability to follow through on major campaign promises. It’s especially surprising because everyone though repealing Obamacare would be easy. It wasn’t. But Trump will try again to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something he claims will be “terrific.”

In light of his worst month in office, Trump is hoping, at the very least, that his proposed tax plans will rejuvenate his image. If he can get that enacted, it would be the first major piece of legislation to get passed since becoming president in January. It would also probably boost his approval rating in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.

Unfortunately, it will take more than tax cuts to overshadow his other recent missteps and the blaring Trump headlines, including North Korea, Puerto Rico, and the NFL/national anthem debacle. And who knows what November will bring.

 

Sources

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 19, 2017, 2:22 p.m.

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 24, 2017, 12:08 a.m.

‘Declaration Of War’ Means North Korea Can Shoot Down U.S. Bombers, Minister Says,” NPR, September 25, 2017.

Puerto Rico’s Agriculture and Farmers Decimated by Maria,” The New York Times, September 24, 2017.

Puerto Rico,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, last accessed September 28, 2017.

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 21, 2017, 12:13 a.m.

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 25, 2017, 9:45 p.m.

The Jones Act,” The Maritime Law Center, last accessed September 29, 2017.

Trump Weighs Waiving Law Barring Foreign Ships From Delivering Aid to Puerto Rico,” The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2017.

Trump addresses criticism over Puerto Rico disaster response: ‘It’s out in the ocean — you can’t just drive your trucks there’,” Business Insider, September 26, 2017.

Twitter post,” Sarah Sanders Twitter account, September 28, 2017, 9:02 a.m.

Donald Trump accused of ‘owing’ Puerto Rico $33m after golf club bankruptcy,” The Independent, September 28, 2017.

Fans Should Boycott NFL Games Over National Anthem Protests, Trump Says,” The Huffington Post, September 22, 2017.

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 23, 2017, 3:11 p.m.

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 23, 2017, 3:18 p.m.

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 26, 2017, 10:06 a.m.

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 26, 2017, 7:35 a.m.

Trump Says Tax Cuts Will Supercharge Economic Growth,” The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2017.

9 ways Trump’s tax plan is a gift to the rich, including himself,” The Washington Post, September 28, 2017.

Fact-checking President Trump’s tax speech in Indianapolis,” The Washington Post, September 28, 2017.

Who Pays the AMT,” Tax Policy Center, last accessed September 29, 2017.

Donald Trump 2005 Tax File,” MSNBC, last accessed September 29, 2017.

Twitter post,” Donald J. Trump Twitter account, September 23, 2017, 7:42 a.m.

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