Today is not international fried chicken day or anything else; for once, it’s just a day. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► President Trump reportedly asked military leaders to dramatically increase the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. As NBC News reports:
President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.
Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.
According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.
Trump responded to the NBC News report with his typical “fake news” diatribe, though with a new twist on his worn-out rhetoric. From Politico:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment after NBC News published a report stating that the president sought a dramatic increase in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning, equating the two TV news outlets he has most often lashed out against. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”…
…The president’s stated willingness to potentially challenge the broadcast licenses of networks whose coverage he objects to opens a new front on Trump’s long-running battle with the media. The president has regularly complained about coverage he views as unfairly critical, labeling stories, reporters and entire outlets “fake news.”
Like most of the things Trump says, this threat is more fantasy than reality. It is extremely unlikely that Trump could somehow coerce the FCC into cutting off NBC’s broadcast license. The Politico story quotes Andrew Schwartzman, a communications lawyer with the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, calling Trump’s grumbling “an empty threat.”
Nevertheless, Trump’s latest threat was met with a swift response from Democrats:
— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) October 11, 2017
Bennet is also calling on the FCC to clarify that NBC is in no danger of losing its broadcast license.
► Congressional Republican leaders say that “failure is not an option” when it comes to tax reform. Of course, they said similar things before failing repeatedly to repeal Obamacare.
The New York Times examines how a tax reform plan similar to the one being championed by President Trump was enacted in Kansas — and quickly repealed by lawmakers after disastrous results:
With the state hemorrhaging government revenue, Kansas lawmakers rolled back the tax law this year, but congressional Republicans and President Trump are trying to take the experiment with pass-through preferences national, beyond Wichita and Topeka to cities with residents who measure incomes in seven, eight or nine figures.
The Republican tax rewrite unveiled this month aims to jump-start economic growth in part by establishing a 25 percent tax rate on small businesses and other firms that operate as pass-through entities, a cut from the top rate of 39.6 percent that such business owners pay now.
But the abandoned experiment in Kansas points to how a carve-out intended to help raise growth and create jobs instead created an incentive for residents, particularly high earners, to avoid paying state income taxes by changing how they got paid.
► Colorado politicians — those not named Cory Gardner, anyway — continue to criticize the Trump administration’s War on Clean Energy, which took a new turn on Tuesday when EPA Chief Scott Pruitt ended the Obama-era “Clean Power Plan.” Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) do agree that a proposed tariff on the import of solar panels is a bad idea.
► Massive wildfires in California are straining emergency response systems.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► President Trump continues to push a long-debunked narrative that the United States is the “highest-taxed nation in the world.” As Politico explains:
Republicans on the Hill offer what is essentially the same defense: The president means it in a way that is not false. The U.S. does have the highest corporate tax rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, though many corporations do not pay at the full statutory rate.
Regardless, Trump’s statement has not been that the corporate rate is the highest. What he repeatedly says is: “We are the highest taxed nation in the world.”
Fact checkers and tax experts from across the political spectrum have repeatedly noted that the statement is false. Taxes represent about 26 percent of GDP in the United States. That’s well below the 34 percent average in the OECD — and far below countries like Denmark, France and Italy, where taxes are more than 40 percent of GDP.
But Trump has stuck to the talking point. And, as the White House showed on Tuesday, it will continue to defend the remark.
Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the maddening exchange between White House reporters and press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.
► Colorado candidates who receive contributions larger than $1,000 between now and November 8 need to make reports to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office within 24 hours; the new requirements are an unintentional drafting error from legislation in 2015. The Denver Post has more on this story.
► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is welcoming the news that EPA Chief Scott Pruitt is cancelling the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. You’re going to have to suspend logic to follow along with Coffman’s rationale here.
► President Trump and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker have engaged in a war of words in the past couple of days. Republican leaders are urging Trump and Corker to cool it; Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, meanwhile, is ducking and dodging just as you might expect.
► Former Alabama judge Roy Moore, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate heading into a December special election, was apparently less than truthful about a massive salary he collected from a nonprofit organization. As the Washington Post reports:
Moore once said publicly that he did not take a “regular salary” from the small charity he founded to promote Christian values because he did not want to be a financial burden.
But privately, Moore had arranged to receive a salary of $180,000 a year for part-time work at the Foundation for Moral Law, internal charity documents show. He collected more than $1 million as president from 2007 to 2012, compensation that far surpassed what the group disclosed in its public tax filings most of those years.
When the charity couldn’t afford the full amount, Moore in 2012 was given a promissory note for backpay eventually worth $540,000 or an equal stake of the charity’s most valuable asset, a historic building in Montgomery, Ala., mortgage records show. He holds that note even now, a charity official said…
…The charity helped Moore thrive – financially and otherwise – after his ouster from the state’s Supreme Court in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse. The group has filed scores of legal briefs in cases involving conservative Christian issues, but it was in many ways built around Moore himself.
Have fun with this one, Cory Gardner.
► The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a 2006 law in Colorado that banned “immigrant smuggling,” ruling that the state does not have the authority to enforce issues pertaining to federal law enforcement procedures.
► The strange legal case of Rene Lima-Marin took another turn when his immigration deportation case was dismissed by federal authorities.
► There are now four Republican candidates seeking to unseat Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn in CD-5.
► Hillary Clinton just won’t go away.
► The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will hold public hearings to discuss a proposal from Xcel Energy to raise the rates it charges for natural gas.
► Voters in the Colorado Springs area will make decisions next month on several measures that would increase taxes. The Colorado Springs Independent wonders what will happen if the answer is “No.”
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Hip hop artist Eminem is no fan of President Trump.
► Conservative Republicans don’t think President Trump is doing enough to destroy Obamacare.
► The United States men’s soccer team will miss the World Cup for the first time since 1986 after a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago.