Saturday, September 30, 2017

GOP Creates Illusion of Middle-Class Benefits in Their Tax Plan

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. (photo: Greg Nash/Getty)
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. (photo: Greg Nash/Getty)

'Millions of low- and middle-income families will likely see their taxes go up'

By Hunter Blair, The Hill
29 September 17
or months, Republicans have been touting their forthcoming tax plan on the basis that it will help the middle class. Wednesday, we finally got a look at their plan.

What’s not surprising is that the vast bulk of tax cuts will go to the richest households. What’s actually a bit surprising is just how little low- or middle-income families will get.

The tax giveaways to the rich in the plan released yesterday are clear. It lowers the top tax rate, which is paid only by the richest 0.5 percent of households. It slashes the rate corporations have to pay from 35 to 20 percent.

It provides a huge new loophole for owners of hedge funds, law firms and hugely lucrative businesses — hiding behind rhetoric about helping “small businesses.” It makes the egregious loophole that big multinational firms use to defer paying taxes on profits booked overseas permanent.

Are there any crumbs for the middle class? Hardly. The most incredible part is how hard the plan tries to hide just how stingy it is to the broad middle class.

The plan includes a much-touted doubling of the standard deduction. If it stopped there, it would deliver a straightforward tax cut to the broad middle class. Instead, the plan also ends personal exemptions, which by itself largely neutralizes any potential tax cut for most middle-class families. On top of this, the plan raises the lowest tax bracket rate from 10 to 12 percent.

The plan also increases the Child Tax Credit. By itself, again, this would genuinely constitute a middle-class tax cut. But the authors couple it with the elimination of the personal exemption for dependents, which neutralizes this cut for most middle-class families.

On average, for households in the broad middle class, these changes will probably end up as a wash on net. The tax increase and ending of personal exemptions claws back most of what the doubled standard deduction would’ve given low- and moderate-income households, and the increased Child Tax Credit is clawed back with the elimination of personal exemptions for dependents.

But depending on the details, which the Republican plan is sorely lacking, a non-trivial number of middle-class households could be looking at a tax increase.

Admittedly, without the details left out of today’s plan, it’s hard to say exactly which low- and middle-income families are likely to be immediately harmed by the Republican tax plan. But their previous tax plans do give us enough to make some educated guesses.

If the parameters of those older plans hold, then millions of low- and middle-income families will likely see their taxes go up.

Those previous versions, which look almost exactly the same as this version, albeit with a few more details specified, also got rid of personal exemptions while doubling the standard deduction. But they also got rid of “head of household” filing.

At the end of the day, the interactions between these tax changes in Trump’s campaign plan resulted in about 20 percent of households, including more than half of single parents, paying more in taxes.

Households that currently itemize deductions rather than taking the standard deduction are also likely to see their taxes go up. Currently, taxpayers take personal exemptions on top of either the standard deduction or their personal itemized deductions.

But the Republican plan only offsets the elimination of personal exemptions by increasing the standard deduction. This means that households that itemize (and hence do not use the standard deduction) will simply lose their personal exemptions with nothing to offset it.

Will middle-class families get anything in return for risking a tax increase? No, and the programs they depend on are likely to find themselves on the chopping block in coming years as the deficits that result from the Trump plan are used to justify damaging cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

Today’s plan came out as many of us expected all along: a deficit-financed tax cut for the rich that sets up later budget debates where Republicans will claim that deficits demand we savage the social insurance and public investment that the middle class relies on.

We know from past regressive tax cuts that no flood of economic growth will cushion any of these blows. Today’s plan should put the lie to any remaining claims the Trump administration has to genuinely care about the plight of low- and moderate-income households more than the rich. It’s all on paper now.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Trump's tax plan is a huge gift for the wealthy, and a disaster for everyone else

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump singing along to "My Way" dances with first lady Melania Trump while attending the Freedom Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C.  Trump will attend three inaugural balls.   (Photo by Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images)
For the middle class ... like me.

While Donald Trump is pitching his tax plan as something that benefits the middle class, even a cursory glance at the ill-defined plan shows that in truth it’s a windfall for the extremely rich.
The administration and its congressional allies are proposing to sharply reduce taxation of business income, primarily benefiting the small share of the population that owns the vast majority of corporate equity. 
And not only will there be no benefits to the middle class, even the Trump White House admits that their taxes may actually increase.
President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said today that he can't guarantee that taxes won't go up for some middle-class families under the administration's sweeping tax overhaul. …
Cohn, the director of the White House Economic Council, said Trump's plan is "purely aimed at middle-class families." But he acknowledged that "it depends which state you live in."
The reason for that caveat is that, like the failed Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, Trump’s tax plan isn’t aimed at just robbing any old middle-class family. It’s designed to especially punish blue states and force a race to the bottom. 

Experiments like those of Sam Brownback in Kansas may have turned out to be notorious failures. But Trump’s tax plan is aimed at making every state a Kansas.

Right now, the most dependent states on federal dollars are all red states. The highest amount of federal benefits received per tax dollar paid? All red states. And the states with the lowest gross domestic products? All red states. If the states are the laboratories of the economy, Republicans have brewed up a batch of failures.

Despite being able to deduct state income taxes from federal taxes, blue states are still paying more taxes, and getting fewer benefits, than red states. By wiping out the state income tax deduction, the Trump plan sweeps in money from populous, high GDP blue states and has little effect on states that either have low income tax due to building their economy on extraction industries, or on those states that have swapped out progressive income taxes for regressive sales taxes.

Trump’s plan also completely avoids those changes that would help low-income workers.

The president is not proposing measures like a reduction in payroll taxes, which are paid by a much larger share of workers, nor an increase in the earned-income tax credit, which would expand wage support for the working poor.
Lower income Americans get nothing. Middle-income Americans in blue states take a bath. 

So who does benefit?

“We have also said that wealthy Americans are not getting a tax cut,” Cohn said Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” 
Well that’s a relief … except it’s an absolute lie.

The lack of details in the plan make it difficult to estimate how the cuts would be distributed across income levels, but Mr. Trump and the wealthy would “almost certainly benefit,” said Roberton Williams, an analyst at the Tax Policy Center. …
Trump’s plan would eliminate the estate tax—a tax paid only by the top 0.2 percent of estates. It would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, a tax designed expressly to keep the wealthy from skating out of paying taxes by manipulating their returns.

Without this tax, Mr. Trump would have paid $31 million less in taxes in 2005, according to his tax return that year, which was disclosed on the “Rachel Maddow Show” in March.
Donald Trump is planning a barnstorming tour, bragging to his supporters about the scope and importance of his “once in a generation” tax plan that’s good for the middle class.

Trump pitched his tax reform plan Wednesday in a speech in Indianapolis, painting it as a benefit to middle class and working class Americans. 

Not so good for the 1 percent.

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn insisted Thursday morning that “the wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan.”

And certain to create jobs. 

He has long said that his goal is to push the U.S. economy towards a 3 percent growth rate, a number at which he and other Republicans have said the nation will truly feel the benefits of their policies.
There’s only one thing wrong with this statement: Everything.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pence comes up with dumbest argument against NFL players yet, and that is saying something

US Vice President Mike Pence (R) speaks while standing next to US President Donald Trump during a ceremony before the signing of an Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 4, 2017 in Washingto.Trump issued an executive order on Thursday making it easier for churches and religious groups to take part in politics without risk of losing their tax-exempt status, a senior White House official said. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Tapioca Trump tells tales.
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We have reached the unavoidable point in a news story where America's most prominent people deliver their dumbest possible takes. We seem to be getting to that point with great speed, of late: whatever else you might say about the Trump administration, they have truly streamlined the process of saying stupid things out loud.
According to Pence, the use of “national” in the name of the National Football League means players must stand during the national anthem. [...] “We’ve all got a right to our opinions,” Pence told the crowd, “but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that players in the National Football League to stand for our national anthem.”
Can we ... can we just not do this, please? If it were Donnie Thimblethumbs piping up with this, it would be because he truly did not understand that the National Football League was not an official part of government. Mike Pence is not that dumb—but he will still try his level best.

Is it binding, though? So players of the National Football League must not protest the national anthem—we can presume players in the National Basketball Association are similarly constrained, but Major League Baseball players can do as they like? Wait—unless they are in the National League, of course. And the Washington Nationals may as well rendition themselves to Gitmo en masse if players try anything untoward.

Employees of National Car Rental? They leave their rights of citizenship at the office door. The poor bastards can only wish they worked for Hertz instead.

But wait—why does National Geographic have so many photos of non-American animals and landscapes?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Flag Idolatry Is a Pathology That Crushes Real American Values

Colin Kaepernick. (photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Colin Kaepernick. (photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News
27 September 17

What, if anything, does it mean to respect the American flag?

he flag is a symbol, and there is no agreement as to what it actually symbolizes.

By design, the flag’s thirteen stripes stand for the original 13 states, none of which would ban slavery. The 14th state, Vermont, was the first state to ban slavery, doing it weakly in its 1777 state constitution (not that the principle was enforced: in 1802 the Town of Windsor sued a State Supreme Court justice to get him to take care of an elderly, infirm slave he had dumped on town welfare; the town lost the case). The original flag had 13 stars for those same original 13 states, and it took over 70 years before all 36 stars in the 1865 flag represented states without slavery (but not states without racist Jim Crow laws and the freedom to lynch without consequence). The colors of the stars and stripes had no meaning in 1777, when it was adopted, as distinct from the colors of the Great Seal that did have meaning.

Then there’s the Star Spangled Banner, written by a slave owner in celebration of the defense of a slave state in a battle against the British. The British force included a contingent of former slaves who were promised freedom if they fought for the British. How many people at the beginning of a sports event understand “the land of the free and the home of the brave” in its deepest historical irony?

All in all, the typical American flag ritual is an exercise in mindless obedience in which any talk of real meaning interferes with the underlying objective of fealty to the state. The ritual is totemic and totalitarian, but not so extreme as the Two Minutes Hate required by the Party in George Orwell’s novel “1984.” The difference is one of degree, not kind, and the enemy in both instances is rational, individual thought.

Mindless obedience has long been a goal of self-appointed patriots, wrapping themselves in the flag to defend indefensible domestic injustice or criminal wars (both of which we have more than our share these days). There is no meaning in the demand to “respect” any abstract symbol, much less one as drenched in horrifying contradiction as the American flag. In a mature world, respect is what you earn, not what you demand. In a mature world, a person is respected for who and what he or she is and does, not for any office or position of authority. We do not live in a mature world. 

Some quarterbacks are more obtuse than others
More than a year ago, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick first sat quietly, then kneeled during the national anthem at the beginning of his team’s games. The gesture was quiet, respectful, and principled. And Kaepernick was articulate in his explanation that he was objecting to bigotry and injustice in America, and especially to police suffering no consequences for shooting and killing unarmed black men. For this objection, he has been blacklisted by the National Football League owners, the same owners who turkey-danced in all directions last weekend in a panic to find the right response to an intensity of protest they mostly neither shared nor understood, beyond the need for public relations management.

No one has a coherent argument for saluting the flag, because there isn’t one. The flag ritual is an expression of our secular religion, American Exceptionalism. Coherence and reason are at best irrelevant and require suppression before they spread and become a threat. The result is widespread confusion among a large portion of the population, expressed as sincerely and sadly as anyone by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Brees started by making it about President Trump, which it’s not, and then went on to say with inarticulate imprecision: “I disagree with what the President said and how he said it. I think it’s very unbecoming of the office of the President of the United States to talk like that to the great people like that.”

The rest of the Drew Brees statement got even more disconnected in its thought pattern:
Well, let me say this first: Do I think that there is inequality in this country? Yes, I do. Do I think that there is racism? Yes, I do. I think there’s inequality for women, for women in the workplace. I think that there’s inequality for people of color, for minorities, for immigrants.
But as it pertains to the National Anthem, I will always feel that if you are an American, that the National Anthem is the opportunity for us all to stand up together, to be unified and to show respect for our country, to show respect for what it stands for, the birth of our nation.
We will—there will always be issues with our country. There will always be things that we’re battling, and we should all be striving to make those things better.
But if the protest becomes that we’re going to sit down or kneel or not show respect to the flag of the United States of America and everything that it symbolizes and everything that it stands for and everything that our country has been through to get to this point, I do not agree with that.
I feel like that is a unifying thing.
The national anthem and standing for the national anthem and looking at the flag with your hand over your heart is a unifying thing that should bring us all together and say, “You know what? We know that things are not where they should be, but we will continue to work and strive to make things better, to bring equality to all people: men, women, no matter what your race, creed, religion – it doesn’t matter – equality for all.” But if you’re an American, then I will always believe that we should be standing, showing respect to our flag with our hand over our heart.
Well, that’s just nuts. And it hasn’t worked. Historically, all the flag worship in the world has done little to assure justice. Like an ungodly number of his fellow citizens, Brees is deep in American denial. His is a common knee-jerk response, absent logical thought despite some accurate perceptions. Yes, it sort of sounds good – until you try to figure out what it means. Knee-jerk reactions are not about knees but jerks. And when people like Brees are standing for the national anthem, what are they really standing for? 

Is this a tipping point? Are we watching a fad or a movement?
When Colin Kaepernick was protesting alone in 2016, it’s doubtful even he expected to see so many NFL players and owners expressing such solidarity and support in 2017. Granted, the message was muddled, as some players kneeled, some linked arms, some stayed in the locker room, and so on, with no clear message emerging beyond, perhaps, some disgruntlement at being dissed by Trump. The game is on, but it’s not clear yet what the game is, and no clear leadership has emerged. But the legitimacy of professional American athletes protesting, even in the mildest way, is a new thing. If the protest expands and endures and coheres, it could be a very good thing for the country. These protestors include an inordinate number of new millionaires who have decided not to forget what they know about being black and brown in this America. And for anyone wondering what that means, there’s America’s response to storms in Texas and Florida, and America’s virtual abandonment of Puerto Rico, as Trump blames the looted colony for being at the mercy of the United States. Puerto Ricans are American citizens who serve in the US military at disproportionately high rates. Tell them about saluting the flag.

And now sports protest has spread from professional football to major league baseball, although just barely. On September 23, Oakland Athletics rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell became first major league baseball player to kneel for the national anthem, hat over his heart and a teammate’s hand on his shoulder. Maxwell was born on a US military base in Germany. He is the son of a career soldier. Maxwell’s statement after the event had a coherence Drew Brees should envy:
The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military. It’s not to disrespect our constitution. My hand was over my heart because I love this country. I’ve had plenty of family members, including my father, that have bled for this country, that continue to serve for this country. At the end of the day, this is the best country on the planet. I am and forever will be an American citizen, and I’m more than forever grateful for being here. But my kneeling is what is getting the attention, because I’m kneeling for the people that don’t have a voice. This goes beyond the black community. This goes beyond the Hispanic community. Because right now we’re having a racial divide in all types of people. It’s being practiced from the highest power that we have in this country, and he’s basically saying that it’s OK to treat people differently. My kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause, but I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.
Maxwell is, intentionally or not, echoing Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address in 1861, when he said, with seven states already seceded from the union for the sake of slavery:
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
We have no president today capable of such words, and even less capable of such sentiments. That understanding is part of what drives NFL players to demonstrate, however inchoately. From Kaepernick to Maxwell, professional athletes are in touch with our better angels, and this is something new in American life. It is enough to give one hope, at least for the moment. Maybe they will be bullied back into silence and mindless obedience by the screechers demanding respect – respect for the flag, respect for the military, respect for the police even though they keep killing unarmed black people (and others). The screechers know no boundaries and are unburdened by integrity; they want only consent by any means necessary. But they are screeching for a despicable president who earns disrespect daily, so maybe hundreds, even thousands of over-privileged professional athletes will become America’s saving grace. We’re a long way from there. But wouldn’t that be an amazing example of giving something back?

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Donald Trump finally notices Puerto Rico—long enough to blame them for their problems

People use their cell phones at night in one of the few places with cell signal in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 25, 2017, where a 7pm-6am curfew has been imposed following impact of Hurricane Maria on the island.  / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO        (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
On Monday evening, Donald Trump finally got around to mentioning Puerto Rico for the first time since Hurricane Maria finished passing over the island. And what he delivered was a level of cruelty usually reserved for four-year-olds holding  a magnifying glass above ants.

Trump followed this initial tweet with a couple of followup. They did not make things better.
It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water, and medical are top priorities — and doing well. #FEMA
Donald Trump finally deigned to notice three and a half million Americans in Puerto Rico. Americans without power, without shelter, and—despite Trump’s afterthought—without clean water, without adequate food or medical care. Americans living in the shattered ruins of their homes unable to even communicate with loved ones to let them know they’re still alive. And he blamed them. 
It took Donald Trump five full days to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the lives of 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and when he finally did so his comments on Twitter were so devoid of empathy it threatened to spark a new controversy.
It was the first comment Trump has made on Puerto Rico since hours before Maria made landfall as a category four hurricane pummelling the island and destroying its entire power network with winds of up to 155mph (250km/h). On that occasion he told the people of Puerto Rico: “We are with you.”
But for many Puerto Ricans the reality five days after the hurricane struck is that the US president has not been with them.
The day after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, FEMA had 31,000 workers in the area. And that was in addition to volunteers who were able to drive to Texas from across the nation. The total number of people who were there to help in Texas was in the hundreds of thousands. The total amount of materials available was massive.

The same thing happened in Florida, where electrical crews from thirteen states were on their way to Florida before Irma even struck. Power was restored for millions there within a day of the winds passage while both FEMA and other agencies descended on the state in masses.

And both states had one simple response to protecting their people—evacuation. Well before the wind and the rains came, millions of people took to the road, driving out of East Texas and out of the Florida peninsula to safely ride out the storm in neighboring states.

But in Puerto Rico, there are no highways offering a convenient route to evacuation. Which doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Facing a sure disaster, Donald Trump could have ordered the armed forces to conduct an emergency air evacuation of the island, moving hundreds of thousands of the most directly threatened to safety. He didn’t.

Likewise, there are no highways to bring in supplies. Trump might have conducted an airlift in advance of the storm to make certain that Puerto Rico was adequately stocked with those basic necessities as well as the materials needed to get the electrical and communications grids up and running. He didn’t.

There were no electrical crews brought in from other states. There were no shiploads of supplies. Even the Navy’s hospiral ships, which were used in disasters within the continental United States, have not been sent to Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands together, FEMA has deployed 600 and a total of 10,000 federal workers. That’s a fraction of the people sent to Texas for a situation that’s infinitely more dire.

Trump points out that Puerto Rico is in terrible fiscal shape—and it is. That’s part of why the situation there requires a much larger Federal response that was needed in states that were hit by less devastation and far better able to address the situation. Puerto Rico demands a massive government response—the kind that Donald Trump seems capable of envisioning only when it comes to attacking other countries. And it needs it yesterday.

The responsibility for what’s happening Puerto Rico can’t be shuffled off or evaded. Maria may have damaged the island, but Donald Trump is turning that disaster into a lingering catastrophe.
More than half of the Americans on the island don’t have safe drinking water, and after prolonged silence, Trump decided this would be a good time to emphasize to Puerto Ricans the money they owe to Wall Street.

Monday, September 25, 2017

'White America, it's time to take a knee'

A’s rookie Bruce Maxwell becoming the first MLB player to take a knee for the anthem
I think we're going to see a lot of athletes on their knees today, just like Oakland A's rookie Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League baseball player to take a knee during the national anthem.
The most recent missive (let’s just call it a sermon — it is Sunday morning, after all) from Rev. John Pavlovitz is a must-read about the controversy over the reaction to QB Colin Kaepernick and the growing movement to #TakeAKnee.

None of what Pavlovitz writes in his blog, “Stuff That Needs to Be Said,” is a new idea — he just says it a lot more clearly and eloquently than most of us.

He’s been on fire recently, coming out with multiple short pieces about reaction to athletes daring to use their First Amendment rights to protest the police killing of African-Americans. This was actually written before Donald Trump’s ridiculous racist rants at his Friday night Alabama rally telling NFL owners to “fire” athletes who are taking a knee. The unified response to Trump’s words from everyone in professional sports has been heartening.

Here is some of Pavlovitz’ post:
Maybe we should all be kneeling right now.
White friends, if your immediate response to the shooting of a man or woman of color is to try and justify why he or she is dead instead of asking why they were shot, you may be the problem here.
If you’re more comfortable calling out kneeling football players than marching nazis with torches, you may want to ask why that is.
If you’re more incensed by a black reporter’s assertion that the President is a supremacist, than the fact that he is endorsed by supremacists, I’d look at that very carefully.
If you aren’t greatly burdened with grief for the families of people of color and you aren’t moved with compassion for the way scenes of their premature passing, repeatedly kick people of color in the gut—you need to ask yourself some difficult questions about your own patriotism, your own appreciation of freedom, your own civic responsibility. You need to ask yourself whether you’re really for Liberty—or just white comfort.
He tells us that we all need to take an “unflinching look in the mirror” and calls out the knee-jerk response from too many that those players should be “honoring the flag,” etc.
Our brothers and sisters of color should not be kneeling alone anymore.
It’s not long but is worth reading in full.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Donald Trump took $107 million promised to charities ... and kept it

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump singing along to "My Way" dances with first lady Melania Trump while attending the Freedom Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C.  Trump will attend three inaugural balls.   (Photo by Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images)
Occupying the White House has proven lucrative for Donald Trump. He’s been able to charge the Secret Service hundreds of thousands for rental space and golf carts. He’s been able to turn his Washington Hotel into a place where the emoluments clause is put to constant test. But the AP reports that no other cash-in matches the one Trump took on day one.
President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million for a ceremony that officials promised would be “workmanlike,” and the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity.
The $107 million is a massive amount for even the most lavish inauguration. It’s almost twice what Barack Obama took in for a celebration that was much more widely attended and which included many more events. Trump even cut back on the number of inaugural balls to only two, compared to the ten balls that the Obamas attended in 2009. With twice the money and one fourth the events, all but a handful of the $107 million gifted to Trump for the inauguration should be available for charitable giving.

It’s been eight months. How much has been given out? None. None at all.
Nothing has yet gone to charity.
What is left from the massive fundraising is a mystery, clouded by messy and, at times, budget-busting management of a private fund that requires little public disclosure.
Donald Trump wants attention for giving $1 million to those affected by recent hurricanes—donations that so far haven’t actually happened. But he’s still sitting on a massive heap of cash from January which, despite promises, hasn’t gone to help anyone but Trump.

What information has been provided on the fate of this huge pile of cash has been confusing, and simply unbelievable. Of particular interest: The $25 million Trump inaugural concert.
The opening concert featuring Toby Keith and Three Doors Down was broadly similar to concerts put on for Obama in 2009 and Bush in 2005 — except for the cost and size.
Bush’s inaugural committee spent $2.5 million on its concert on the National Mall. Obama’s concert had 10,000 ticketed seats — twice the size of Trump’s — and cost less than $5 million, said Kerrigan, and was produced at a high enough level that HBO paid for the rights to telecast it.
In addition to those ticketed seats, 400,000 people showed up to celebrate Barack Obama’s inauguration with a pre-inaugural concert in the National Mall. In 2017, the area that had been covered with Obama supporters played host to a much smaller group out to cheer on Trump. The total attendance for Trump’s concert has been estimated at just 10,000 people.

But while President Obama provided a lengthy concert with some of the biggest names in music, Trump’s provided a handful of country cover bands, Youtube “celebrities” and military bands who had no choice but to attend.
Trump appeared onstage at the end to do what he normally does: praise the size of the crowd, marvel at how well he and his team had pulled the thing off, and brag about how unprecedented this more or less routine-seeming event had been. 
Somehow, Trump supposedly blew through $25 million for this abbreviated event that seemed more suitable for a county fair. In a small county. It’s an amount that seems amazing even to the people on Trump’s own campaign committee.
“I couldn’t tell you how we possibly could have spent $25 million on a concert,” said Kerrigan.
After a campaign in which he repeatedly, and inaccurately, bragged that he was “self-funding,” Trump was rewarded with an astounding pay-off from those who had business before the government. He promised to give the funds to charity and … didn’t. That’s a problem that’s all too familiar.
In January 2016, [Trump] held a high-profile fundraiser for veterans’ causes, but it took him four months — and pressure from the media — to follow through on his pledge to donate $1 million of his own money. During the campaign, Trump’s longtime personal foundation came under fire for its use of other people’s money to fund his charitable pledge.
Now Trump isn’t giving out the money—even if it was never supposed to be his.