Here’s What To Watch For When Trump Addresses Congress Monday, Feb 27 2017 

Tuesday night, President Trump will address a joint session of Congress for the first time. After a chaotic first month, it will be a chance for Trump to reset his relationship with voters, who currently give him historically-low approval ratings.

It will also be a chance for him to reassure congressional Republicans, whose view of the new administration runs the gamut from optimism to unease.

Here are five things to watch for when Trump goes to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.


1. Where we’ve come and where we’re going

That’s how White House press secretary Sean Spicer described what Trump will discuss on Tuesday night. It may sound vague, but Trump will certainly list his achievements, much as he did in his marathon “I’m not ranting and raving” press conference. He’ll present himself as a man of action, who said what he meant and is now making good on his promises.

Trump will likely repeat his claim that he “inherited a mess” — even though no president in 20 years has been left a healthier economy. And he’ll take credit for everything from a booming stock market to the decisions of American companies like Carrier or Intel to retain U.S. jobs or hire new workers.

This weekend, Trump congratulated himself for a drop in the budget deficit after his first month in office. Though, since he hasn’t signed any spending bills into law yet, it’s hard to see how that had anything to do with him.

2. ‘American carnage’ or ‘renewal of the American spirit?’

The speech, like Trump’s inaugural address, will be written by Stephen Miller. But the White House says the tone will be very different.

The inaugural speech was a dark, dystopian vision of American decline. Its theme was something like “the blowtorch has been passed to a new generation.” This one, White House aides say, will be sunny and optimistic — more opportunity, less Armageddon.

But previews from Trump aides have not always panned out. For instance, we were told his inaugural address would focus on unity. It didn’t.

With his approval ratings hovering in the low forties, the White House may have decided that a little more inclusion and a little less divisiveness might help. So far, Trump has been speaking almost exclusively to his base, which is loyal and enthusiastic no matter what he does.

But the period of executive orders is over. Trump has done almost all he can unilaterally. If he wants to pass legislation, he will need Congress and in some cases Democratic votes. So watch to see if Trump tries to reach out.

3. Policy details, anyone?

Donald Trump is not a policy wonk, so don’t expect him to talk specifics about health care or tax reform or infrastructure. But these big set speeches to Congress are about policy guidance, and Republicans want to know where he stands on their big legislative goals.

On replacing Obamacare, Republicans have put themselves in a box. If they want to pay for tax cuts, they need to get trillions of dollars from somewhere. There’s money to be had in health insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion established by the Affordable Care Act, but if Republicans unravel Obamacare they will be held responsible when millions of people, many of whom voted for Donald Trump, lose their coverage.

What guidance will Trump give them? The latest word from the White House is that “the goal is that we make sure that people don’t lose their coverage,” as deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders put it to ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

4. Tax reform or tax cuts?

Tax cuts that don’t expire after ten years need 60 votes to pass in the Senate. But they have to be paid for.

Tax reform, which lowers rates but also gets rid of deductions, could be revenue neutral or even produce revenue that could be used for Trump’s big infrastructure program.

Is Trump a tax cutter or a tax reformer? He talked about getting rid of deductions during the campaign, but hasn’t said much since. All of the Republican tax plans skew their benefits to the wealthy. Will Trump repeat the pledge of his new Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, that the rich will not get an “absolute tax cut.”

Then there’s the border adjustment tax, basically a tax on imports. This is at the heart of Paul Ryan’s tax plan and it would raise a lot of money. But the idea has split the GOP business coalition. Retailers like Walmart who rely on imports hate it, while many manufacturers love it.

Trump had been critical of the idea, saying in the past that it was “too complicated.” But lately he has sounded warmer, saying in a Reuters interview last week, “It could lead to a lot more jobs in the United States.”

Or Trump might send a signal that “paying for things” is just not necessary. Deficits have been a focus of conservative, small-government Republicans. That’s not Donald Trump.

5. How will Democrats react?

Probably by sitting on their hands.

They are fierce and united in their opposition to Trump. This will be an unusual audience for him, as the president is used to speaking to crowds that love him. On Tuesday, nearly half the crowd will be sullen — if not seething. Democrats are also planning to bring guests who are a rebuke to the president’s policies — Muslim refugees, Hispanic immigrants, relatives of victims of gun violence and others.

Plus, one of the two official Democratic responses to the speech will be delivered in Spanish by DREAMer and immigration activist Astrid Silva. The other will be delivered by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat who served in a state with a lot of coal miners, championed by Trump, where Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act extended coverage to hundreds of thousands of people.

The message from that pair of responses will be that the Democrats don’t have to choose between two groups — minorities and others that have been marginalized historically, and white working-class voters who delivered a victory to Trump.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

U of L To Pay Back Taxes On Adidas Swag, Club Memberships Friday, Feb 24 2017 

The University of Louisville owes $96,000 to the Internal Revenue Service after an audit found it wasn’t paying taxes on Adidas freebies given to staffers in the athletics department.

Roughly $200,000 worth of Cards clothing — polos, workout gear and the like — handed out to coaches is a fringe benefit and taxable, according to the IRS audit of the university’s wages in 2014 and 2015. Since the clothing is not required for work and can easily be worn off the clock, U of L should’ve been considering the fair market value of the clothes to be gross income subject to tax, the audit said.

The IRS found that U of L also neglected to treat as taxable income golf club dues for four employees, worth about $25,000 a year.

John Karman, a U of L spokesman, noted that the audit was routine and that U of L has agreed to pay the additional taxes as well as any taxes triggered by the free clothes in the future. The error on country club dues was for coaches, he said.

In the report issued in January, the auditor said the university was “efficient and courteous” in its responses and the adjustments were common among government entities.

“(Tax) agents recognize that government entities do not have training on employment tax issues as they may need,” the letter said. “Our foremost goal was to educate and apply the tax laws in a fair manner.”

The IRS announced its intent to audit U of L last July in the midst of a leadership upheaval and heavy scrutiny of U of L’s finances. It requested pay documents for former president James Ramsey and other administrators, as well as head coaches.

Although the audit didn’t request any back taxes paid in connection with administrator pay, it did include some “education” about how U of L should treat the expenses for free sports tickets and spouse travel.

The auditor found that U of L should track expenses for family travel and consider it taxable income. The same goes for free Cardinals tickets, the audit said, unless a “clear business connection” can be documented.

Read the IRS report here.

Disclosures: In 2015, the University of Louisville, which for years has donated to Louisville Public Media, earmarked $3,000 to KyCIR as part of a larger LPM donation. University board member Sandra Frazier and former member Stephen Campbell have donated.

Rand Paul advocates for smaller federal government at GLI roundtable Wednesday, Jul 6 2016 

rand paul

Sen. Rand Paul participated in a roundtable discussion at U.S. Bank in downtown Louisville on Tuesday, answering a number of questions from top investors of Greater Louisville Inc. on topics ranging from federal food labeling requirements to banking regulations — advocating his familiar small government viewpoints. Paul later spoke with reporters and weighed in on Hillary […]

Mule trader Trump Sunday, May 22 2016 

By BERRY CRAIG   You’re at the bargaining table. The lead management negotiator slides over a piece of paper. “You’re going to love what I’m proposing,” the guy says. “Honest. It’s so good you don’t even have to check it … Continue reading →

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Climate Hawks Vote Endorses Sellus Wilder For U.S. Senate. Friday, Apr 8 2016 

Click here to visit Sellus Wilder’s Wilder for Senate Facebook Page and here to visit his Wilder for Senate website. Some of you may be familiar with Sellus Wilder’s film “The End of the Line.” Climate Hawks Vote We’re delighted … Continue reading →

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Kentucky Rep. Larry Clark’s Electronic Cigarette Tax! Tuesday, Jan 12 2016 

Is Kentucky Democratic Rep. Larry Clark trying to impersonate Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel when it comes to electronic cigarettes and taxes? That’s what it looks like to me. Kentucky Democratic Rep. Larry Clark’s proposed electronic cigarette tax: WFPL A Louisville … Continue reading →

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Matt Bevin, Daniel Bork, Lexmark and Mexico Saturday, Dec 19 2015 

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin appoints former Lexmark International executive Daniel Bork as Commissioner of Revenue. Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting At Lexmark, Daniel Bork left behind an imbroglio that has forced the company to conduct a top-to-bottom overhaul of its … Continue reading →

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Kentucky General Fund receipts increase 5.3 percent in FY2015, exceeding estimate by $165 million Friday, Jul 10 2015 

capitolState Budget Director Jane Driskell reported today that receipts for Kentucky’s General Fund during the fiscal year ending June 30 were up 5.3 percent over the previous year, amounting to an increase of $504.6 million and exceeding their official revenue estimate by … Continue reading