👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ Trump confirmed that he is considering “various tax reductions,” including a payroll tax cut, to stimulate a weakening American economy. The White House previously disputed that a payroll tax was under consideration. Trump said he’d “been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time,” and that “it’s not being done because of recession.” Trump added that he’s thinking about reducing capital gains taxes, which would largely benefit wealthy investors. (Washington Post / New York Times)
2/ Kellyanne Conway insisted that “the fundamentals of our economy are very strong,” despite a majority of economists expecting a downturn to hit by 2021 at the latest. The White House, meanwhile, is discussing ways to stimulate an economy that Trump claimed was “very strong.” (Associated Press / New York Times)
- U.S. Steel plans to lay off 200 workers at its facility in Michigan due to “current market conditions.” Since Trump announced the tariffs in March 2018, U.S. Steel has lost about 70 percent of its market value, or $5.7 billion. (Crain’s Detroit / CNBC / Reuters)
3/ Trump appeared to withdraw his support for additional background checks and gun legislation after speaking with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. LaPierre reportedly told Trump that expanded background checks wouldn’t sit well with his supporters. In the wake of the recent back-to-back mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, Trump said “I think background checks are important. I don’t want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate.” Now, Trump says he is “very concerned” about the Second Amendment and claims “people don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now.” (New York Times / Washington Post)
4/ The U.S. won’t vaccinate migrant families and has no plans to do so ahead of this year’s flu season. At least three children held in detention centers at the Mexican border have died from the flu. The U.S. had previously gone almost a decade without any children dying while under U.S. immigration custody. (CNBC)
5/ New York, Connecticut and Vermont sued to block Trump’s public charge rule, which would limit pathways to citizenship for some legal immigrants. Under the new rule, immigrants enrolled in publicly funded programs, like food stamps and public health insurance, and seeking to change their legal immigration status can be deemed “public charge.” Once labeled a “public charge,” immigrants would be denied green cards, visas and other forms of legal immigration status. (NBC News)
6/ Trump is expected to name John Sullivan to be the next ambassador to Russia, replacing Jon Huntsman Jr. Sullivan is currently the deputy secretary of state and has limited diplomatic experience dealing with Moscow. (New York Times)
7/ The White House is attempting to block additional states from joining a pact with California and four automakers to oppose Trump’s rollback of auto emissions standards. Toyota, Fiat, Chrysler, and General Motors were summoned to the White House last month and pressed by an adviser to stand by Trump’s rollbacks. Meanwhile, Mercedez-Benz is preparing to join the agreement, which has reportedly “enraged” Trump. The five automakers account for more than 40% of all cars sold in the United States. (New York Times)
8/ Trump tweeted a doctored photo showing a Trump Tower in Greenland, apparently making light of his idea to buy the world’s largest island. The photo shows a golden-clad Trump Tower looming over a small village in Greenland with the caption, “I promise not to do this to Greenland!” (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
9/ Trump inflated the value and profitability of his Scotland golf courses by $165 million. Trump claimed in his 2018 U.S. filing that his Turnberry and Aberdeen resorts were each worth more than $50 million. The balance sheets filed with the United Kingdom, however, show that two golf courses combined debt exceeded their assets by 47.9 million British pounds ― the equivalent of $64.8 million. Trump’s 2018 “public financial disclosure” filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics also claimed the two resorts earned “income” of $23.8 million. The filings with the U.K. Companies House office in Edinburgh, however, showed the resorts had lost 4.6 million pounds ― equal to $6.3 million. Knowingly providing false or incomplete information on that form is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act punishable by up to a year in jail. (HuffPost)
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