Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America reveal their choices for the biggest Three Martini Lunch award categories. They explain their choices for Person of the Year, as Jim names someone he once dismissed as unserious and Greg selects a large group of people joined by a common theme. They also hold nothing back in detailing which people most egregiously turned their backs on conservative principles in 2017. And they ditch their traditional New Year’s resolutions to offer fearless predictions for 2018. Happy New Year to all of our wonderful listeners! We will return on January 2, 2018.
Archives for December 2017
Awards: Underreported Stories, Overreported Stories, Best Stories of 2017
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America focus squarely on the media in this episode of the Three Martini Lunch awards. They begin by discussing two massive stories that media either ignore or are severely downplaying – one overseas and one here in the U.S. Then they switch gears to reveal which stories received far too much coverage in 2017. Finally, they choose what they see as the best stories of the past year.
Awards: Best Idea, Worst Idea, Boldest Political Tactic
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have now passed the midpoint in the six-podcast series of Three Martini Lunch Awards. In this installment, they begin with the best idea of 2017. Jim chooses a journalistic decision while Greg selects a policy choice. They also unveil the worst ideas of the year, with Jim focusing on politics and Greg going with a legal decision. And they reveal the boldest tactic of the past 12 months. They actually agree on this one, but still discuss two major developments worthy of the award.
Famous Passings – Television, Film and Music
Each year brings the passing of those whose work we loved in the arts and entertainment. From television to the movies to music and more, we bid many final farewells to our favorite stars in 2017.
In television, one of the biggest hits of the 1960’s was “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and a critical factor in that success was Mary Tyler Moore’s portrayal of Laura Petrie. Four years after that show ended, Moore rocketed to superstardom as the star of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” The program was a smash hit throughout the seventies, with Moore playing Mary Richards, who tried to maintain sanity at a Minneapolis television station. Mary Tyler Moore, who turned the world on with her smile, died at age 80.
Another iconic program from the sixties was “The Andy Griffith Show,” and one of the great ensemble characters was Gomer Pyle, played by singer and actor Jim Nabors. Pyle was so popular, Nabors started in the spinoff “Gomer Pyle USMC.” Nabors also recorded many albums and famously sang “Back Home in Indiana” each year before the Indianapolis 500. Nabors was 87.
There’s never been a comedian like Don Rickles. After all, how many people feel honored to be insulted? Rickles was known for his good-natured haranguing of celebrities and audience members for decades. Also the star of TV’s “CPO Sharkey,” Rickles was 90 when he died in April.
Perry Mason wouldn’t have won so many cases without the help of his faithful assistant Della Street. Street’s character in the original television series was the work of actress Barbara Hale. She was 94.
“Batman” was only on television for a couple of seasons, but Adam West made a career out of portraying the caped crusader in the campy sixties series and for millions of fans will always be the true Batman. West was 88.
David Cassidy rose to fame as as Keith Partridge on the classic 1970’s television series, “The Partridge Family.” But Cassidy quickly became a teen heartthrob and branched out into a very successful music career most famous for songs like “I Think I Love You.” Cassidy was 67.
Robert Guillame also shot to stardom in the seventies, playing Benson DuBois, first in a supporting role on the racy sitcom “Soap,” and then starring as a government official on “Benson.” Among the first leading black actors on a primetime sitcom, Guillame was 89.
Joe Mannix was one of America’s favorite private eyes in the sixties and seventies. Actor Mike Connors starred as “Mannix.” Connors died in January. He was 91.
Richard Hatch became a household name for his role as Captain Apollo in the original “Battlestar Galactica” series. Hatch was 71.
Erin Moran was America’s little sister in the seventies as she portrayed Joanie Cunningham on “Happy Days.” After a long and successful run on that program, Moran starred in the spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachie.” Moran died of cancer in April. She was 56.
On “Magnum P.I.,” Thomas Magnum was the free-wheeling private eye and Higgins was the exact opposite. The uptight character was the work of actor John Hillerman. He was 84.
Anyone who was “Touched By An Angel,” was touched by the acting excellence of Della Reese. Also an accomplished singer, the beloved Della Reese died in November. She was 86.
Jay Thomas was a highly respected comedy actor in the eighties and nineties. Known for his recurring guest appearances on “Cheers” and “Murphy Brown,” Thomas also starred for three seasons on the sitcom “Love and War.” Thomas was 69.
Two legendary game show hosts left us in 2017. Monty Hall usually had a trinket in his pocket and set the stage for contestants to win big or leave the show embarrassed. It was all part of the appeal of “Let’s Make A Deal.” Hall was 96 when he died in September.
Chuck Barris hosted the “Gong Show,” which hosted legitimately talented acts and some real stinkers – who would get gonged off the stage. Later in life, he claimed to have been a CIA assassin for years prior to his time as a game show host. Barris was 87.
Long before there was Judge Judy or any other reality tv court programs, Judge Joseph Wapner ruled over “The People’s Court.” A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge for 18 years prior to his television years, Wapner settled small claims issues in the hugely popular syndicated series. Wapner died in February. He was 97.
June Foray was a voice actor for some of our most beloved animated characters, including both Rocky the flying squirrel and Natasha on “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” as well as Cindy Lou Who from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” June Foray was 99.
At the movies, Jerry Lewis was famous for 60 years. Known for his comedic partnership with Dean Martin and film roles such as “The Nutty Professor,” Lewis later became known for hosting the annual Labor Day telethon for Jerry’s kids at the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Jerry Lewis was 91.
No character on the big screen has ever been as smooth as British agent James Bond. In seven installments of the long-running franchise, including “Live and Let Die” and “The Man With the Golden Gun,” Bond was played by actor Roger Moore. Moore died in May. he was 89.
“The Exorcist” remains one of the most terrifying movies ever made. The film was based on the book written by William Peter Blatty. Blatty died in January. He was 88.
Bill Paxton starred in a number of blockbusters, ranging from “Apollo 13” to “Twister” to “Titanic.” Paxton died from surgical complications in February. He was 61.
One director said John Hurt was simply the greatest actor in the world. Best known for his work in “Alien” and “A Man for All Seasons” among many other acclaimed performances, John Hurt died of cancer in January. He was 77.
Martin Landau was a fixture in American cinema for several decades. Highly regarded for his performances in “North by Northwest” and “Tucker: A Man and His Dream,” Landau also won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Ed Wood.”
Stephen Furst did a lot of projects throughout his acting career, including stint on TV’s “St. Elsewhere.” But he’ll always be known as Flounder in “Animal House.” Furst was 62.
Glenne Headly turned heads for her acting ability in films such as “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” and “Dick Tracy.” Glenne Headly was 63.
Robert Osborne was best known for talking about movies as extolled the legendary films on Turner Classic Movies. Osborne died in March. He was 84.
In music, rock and roll has had few figures more influential or more famous than Chuck Berry. Known for his stellar guitar playing, his duck walk and classics like “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and the Christmas favorite “Run, Run Rudolph,” Berry was 90 when he died in March.
Fats Domino was another figure who transformed the music scene in the early days of rock and roll. Known for classics like “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t That A Shame,” and “I’m Walkin’”, Domino later narrowly survived the ravages of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He died in October. Fats Domino was 89.
Tom Petty’s versatility knew no bounds. Regarded as one of the greatest guitar players in the business, Petty thrilled fans for four decades as the leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and also for his work with the Traveling Wilburys. Tom Petty was 66.
One of the greatest country music legends also died this year. The Wichita Lineman himself, Glen Campbell, succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 81. During his decades-long career, Campbell was also known for hits like “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Galveston.”
One of the most popular country duos in modern times is Montgomery Gentry. Nashville was stunned in September when Troy Gentry was killed in a helicopter crash. He was 50 years old.
The Allman Brothers drew a huge following in the 1970’s for their easily recognizable sound and hits like “Whipping Post,” “Melissa” and “Midnight Rider,” all of which were written by the talented Greg Allman. Also known for his brief marriage to Cher, Allman was 69 when he died in May.
On the heavy metal scene, no group is as easily distinguishable as AC/DC. Guitarist Malcolm Young was a critical part of the band’s success. Young died in November. He was 64.
Another fan favorite in the early 1980’s was the J. Geils band with hits like “Centerfold” and “Freeze Frame.” Guitarist John Geils was the man behind the band’s name. He died in April age age 71.
That’s a look at the famous people we lost in television, film, and music. Please look elsewhere on this site to remember those who passed away in politics, the media, and sports.
Famous Passings – Politics, Media, Sports
As 2017 heads for the finish line, it is appropriate to look forward to all the possibilities of the coming year. But it is also important to reflect upon the past 12 months. And for the next few minutes, we’ll be remembering the famous figures from many different walks of life who left us this year. For the next few moments, we pay tribute to those who passed away in the arenas of politics, media, business and sports.
In politics, Helmut Kohl was a voice for freedom in a divided Germany as chancellor of West Germany and then led the reunification of east and west after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Helmut Kohl was 87.
Two other prominent players on the world stage died this year who will be remembered in the U.S. as villains. Panama strong man Manuel Noriega once enjoyed a friendly relationship with the United States but a long track record of drug trafficking, suppressing democracy and eventually the death of a U.S. Marine led to an American invasion to depose Noriega late in 1989. Later sentenced to decades in prison, Noriega died in May. He was 83.
Before Osama bin Laden, there was Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. In 1993, the blind sheikh masterminded the first bombing of the World Trade Center. He also plotted to blow up other New York City landmarks. Successfully prosecuted by our friend Andrew McCarthy, Rahman spent the last two decades behind bars. He died in February at age 78.
Saudi billionaire Adnan Kashoggi was an international wheeler and dealer for decades, but he became best known for serving as a middle man in the Iran-Contra affair, as the U.S. traded arms with Iran in exchange for American hostages to be released from Lebanon. Adnan Kashoggi was 81.
Years earlier, foreign policy crises from the Iran hostage crisis to Soviet aggression in Afghanistan exposed some weaknesses in the Carter administration. One of Carter’s key aides was National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. He died in May at the age of 89.
Charles Manson wanted to start a race war back in the 1960’s. He succeeded in starting a cult that murdered several people, including actress Sharon Tate in 1969. The evil head of the Manson family died in November. He was 83.
Last decade, one of the biggest cultural scandals was the revelation that some in the Catholic Church had reassigned pedophile priests instead of reporting them and removing them from ministry. Boston Archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law was perhaps the highest profile figure in the U.S. to be discovered doing this. In response to the scandal, Law was reassigned to Rome. He was 86.
This past summer an international political and medical debate played out in Britain over the fate of a baby named Charlie Gard. Officials in the UK determined Gard’s rare condition was irreversible and refused to let his parents take their critically ill son to the U.S. for therapies. After losing several legal fights, the end was inevitable. Little Charlie Gard died a month shy of his first birthday.
Two longtime Republican congressional figures died. Pete Domenici served 36 years in the U.S. Senate and was the top GOP member on the budget committee for 12 years. Domenici was 85. Bob Michel spent 38 years as a Republican congressman from Illinois. From 1981-1995, he served as House Minority Leader. Bob Michel was 93.
John Anderson was a liberal Republican congressman from Illinois for 20 years. In 1980, he sought the Republican presidential nomination and lost badly to Ronald Reagan. Undeterred, Anderson launched a third party bid against Reagan and President Jimmy Carter. Anderson carried no states and finished with about seven percent of the vote. Anderson died in December. He was 95.
Two prominent political activists also died in 2017. Norma McCorvey was the plaintiff in the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case and while she won the case, McCorvey later became a vigorous pro-life activist and lobbied for the abolition of abortion. McCorvey was 69.
The space race was a major political endeavor in the 1960’s, and the U.S. met President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The last man to set on the moon was Gene Cernan in 1972. Cernan died in January. He was 82.
Dick Gregory was a comedian who became more famous for his political activism on behalf of the black community and the poor. Gregory was 84.
In the media world, past and present figures from the Fox News Channel died this year. Roger Ailes built Fox News from a fledgling newcomer to the dominant player in cable news. Sexual harassment allegations led to his ouster in 2016. He died from complications of a fall at his home. Roger Ailes was 77.
Alan Colmes was a frequent liberal voice on Fox News for two decades, including a long primetime stint as co-host of “Hannity and Colmes.” Colmes died of cancer in February. He was 66.
Brenda Buttner was a longtime business report at Fox and hosted the weekend financial program “Bulls & Bears.” Buttner also died of cancer. She was 55.
Before Fox News took to cable, CNN’s “Capital Gang” made stars out of conservative writers, including National Review’s Kate O’Beirne. A brilliant political mind who was beloved on both sides of the aisle, O’Beirne died of cancer in April. She was 68.
Two of America’s greatest columnists also died this year. Jimmy Breslin was a legendary New York City writer for Newsday, the New York Daily News and several other publications. Breslin was 88. Frank DeFord brought the human touch to the sports pages and to his television commentary. DeFord died in May at age 78.
Hugh Hefner turned the Playboy lifestyle into a business empire and became a major flashpoint in the culture wars, with liberals crediting him for somehow empowering women while conservatives blamed him for objectifying women and sexualizing society. Hefner was 91.
Liz Smith was perhaps the best known and most widely read gossip columnist in America. Writing for several New York papers, Smith was 94.
One of the most famous sports broadcasters left us at the end of the year. The versatile Dick Enberg was NBC’s top play-by-play man for the NFL, college basketball, tennis, golf and the Olympics for many years, always punctuating the game’s biggest moments be exclaiming “Oh my!” Also a hall of of fame baseball announcer, Dick Enberg was 82.
In the sports world, Ara Parseghian revitalized Notre Dame football in the sixties and seventies and led the Fighting Irish to a pair of national championships in eleven seasons. Later a broadcaster, Parseghian was 94.
Parseghian arrived in South Bend in 1964, the same year Arkansas stunned the college football world by winning the national championship. Frank Broyles was the architect of that memorable season. He spent 19 seasons on the sideline in Fayetteville and 33 years as athletic director. Broyles was 92.
Dominant quarterbacks with rifle arms are commonplace today in the NFL, but one of the trailblazers in developing the modern passing game was Y.A. Tittle of the New York Giants. Tittle took the Giants to the brink of multiple titles, but fell just short each time. Y.A. Tittle was 90.
Aaron Hernandez was a dominant tight end who was a favorite target of Tom Brady for the New England Patriots. But just a few years into his career, Hernandez was charged and convicted of murder. He committed suicide in prison in April. Hernandez was 27.
Cortez Kennedy was a dominant hall of fame defensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks. Kennedy died suddenly in May. He was 48.
Two championship-winning college basketball coaches died this year. Jud Heathcote coached Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans to the 1979 national title in a game that effectively launched March Madness. Heathcote coached the Spartans for 20 years. He was 90.
Rollie Massimino coached at multiple schools but will always be remembered for leading the Villanova Wildcats to a huge upset over the heavily favored Georgetown Hoyas in the 1985 championship game. Massimino was 82.
Jerry Krause was a very successful NBA general manager for the Chicago Bulls. But he also rubbed his star players and coach the wrong way. Krause was the architect of six NBA championship teams in the 1990’s. Krause died in March. He was 77.
In baseball, we lost a pair of hall of famers. Bobby Doerr was an outstanding second baseman for the Boston Red Sox during the Ted Williams era. Also a World War II veteran, Doerr was 99 when he died in November.
Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964 and was an ace for three other teams as well over a 17-year career. Bunning won 224 games and had the second most strikeouts in history at the time of his retirement. Bunning later served six terms in the House of Representatives and two terms in the U.S. Senate. Bunning was 85.
Roy Halladay was a dominant pitcher for the Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays and helped Philadelphia win the 2008 World Series. Halladay was just 40 years when he died after crashing a plane he was piloting in Florida.
Darren Daulton was an all-star catcher for the Phillies and was a critical factor in the team capturing the 1993 National League pennant. Dutch Daulton died of brain cancer. He was 55.
Dallas Green also pitched for the Phillies and later managed them to the their first championship in 1980. Green also managed the Yankees and Mets and served as general manager for the Cubs. Green was 82.
Don Baylor played for six teams, most often as a designated hitter or first baseman. Baylor picked up a World Series ring with the Minnesota Twins in 1987. He later managed the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies. Baylor was 68.
Jimmy Piersall was probably better known for his mental health issues than for his play on the field. Piersall played for five teams, most notably the Boston Red Sox. His book and the subsequent film, “Fear Strikes Out,” greatly raised his profile. Piersall was 87.
Mike Ilitch was the billionaire founder of Little Caesar’s Pizza who later bought the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings. The Tigers never won a title during Ilitch’s reign but the Red Wings captured four Stanley Cups. Mike Ilitch was 87.
In the fighting world, Jake LaMotta was a middleweight champion in the late forties and early fifties. Later immortalized in the film “Raging Bull,” LaMotta was 95.
Jana Novotna was an elite tennis player for years on the women’s tour. She gained worldwide notoriety for losing a commanding lead in the 1993 Wimbledon finals and sobbing on the shoulder of the dutchess handing out the trophies. Five years later, Novotna secured the Wimbledon crown. She died of cancer in November. Jana Novotna was 49.
Two famous pro wrestlers also left us. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka died in January at age 73. George “The Animal” Steele was known for his green tongue, incomprensible babbling, and eating turnbuckles. In reality, he had a master’s degree and was a high school teacher and coach. Steele was 79.
That’s a look at the famous people we lost in politics, the media, and sports. Please look for our look back at those we lost in television, the movies and music.
Sabato Reviews Year in Politics
President Trump’s first year in office was full of fierce debate, controversy and accomplishments. What was the most significant success for Trump in 2017? What were his low points? Why are his poll numbers so low? And what does the political landscape look like heading into 2018? We discuss it all with Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
Bolton Lauds Trump’s First Year, Warns of Big Decision Needed in ’18
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says President Trump did an excellent job of identifying and confronting the greatest threats to national security in 2017, but warns those threats still persist and Trump will likely have to make a fateful decision in the coming year.
Trump is the first president in U.S. history never to hold prior public office or serve in the military. Nonetheless, Bolton says Trump quickly got his “sea legs” and emerged with a foreign policy that should be recognizable to most Americans.
“I think it has been very much in the mainstream of conservative Republican thinking. That may upset some of his supporters and some of his opponents, but the fact is it’s been a responsible foreign policy. It’s corrected so many mistakes from the Obama administration,” said Bolton.
“In particular, I think Trump’s view of the threat posed by Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs is probably the most important,” added Bolton. “Decertifying the Iran nuclear deal and the very tough line he’s taken with respect to North Korea are very important.”
The North Korean nuclear threat reared its head many times in 2017, with the Kim Jong-Un regime firing off numerous missile tests that performed competently enough to convince top U.S. intelligence officials that the window of opportunity for diplomacy is quickly closing.
“CIA Director Mike Pompeo said sometime back that North Korea could be within months of getting the capability to hit the United States with thermonuclear warheads carried by ballistic missiles,” said Bolton.
As of now, Bolton says the U.S. still has multiple options for dealing with North Korea, but none of them appear very attractive. He says Trump will have likely have to make the toughest decision any president has to make sometime in 2018.
I don’t think there’s any serious dispute that in the next 12 months we’re going to have to make a very important, very hard, very unpleasant decision over whether we allow North Korea to have this capability to threaten us from now as far as the eye can see, threaten Japan, threaten South Korea and sell that capability to anybody with enough money to pay,” said Bolton.
He says Iran, ISIS, Al Qaeda and other bad actors could well end up as customers of the North Korean regime. He says the other option will be using military force to achieve Trump’s demand for the denuclearization of the communist state.
“This isn’t a choice President Trump wanted to make. Nobody wants to make it. It’s unattractive whichever option you pick. But it’s a consequence of 25 years failure on the part of American foreign policy,” said Bolton, a clear criticism of the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations in dealing with the emerging threat.
Bolton stresses the decision is not just limited to North Korea. He says failing to check Kim now could have massive worldwide consequences.
“We’re very nearly at the stage where our ability to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons will have failed irretrievably and that’s not a happy place to be. It’s going to be in the Trump administration where these key decisions are made. So in the new year, all of us are going to have to be thinking about what we think is best for the country,” said Bolton.
Another major accomplishment in recent months is the rout of ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria at the hands of U.S. air power, American coordination on the ground and the fighting of Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Bolton is dumbfounded at how little coverage this accomplishment gets in the mainstream media. Regardless, he says the impact of the military success is significant.
“It’s a very significant victory. It was critical to eliminate the physical caliphate that ISIS had set up,” said Bolton. “To deny ISIS that base of operations. It’s very, very important. It just means the war on terrorism into a different phase.”
“The next question in the region is how to deal with Iran, making sure that they’re not empowered by the defeat of ISIS to extend their control as they’re trying to do with some success through Iraq, through (Bashar) Assad’s regime in Syria, through Hezbollah in Lebanon, all the way to the Mediterranean,” said Bolton, who also urges Trump to scrap the Iran nuclear deal once and for all.
The former ambassador to the UN also weighed in on the recent uproar in the General Assembly as 128 nations voted to approve a non-binding resolution declaring America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “null and void.” Just nine nations (including the U.S. and Israel) voted against the resolution and 35 countries abstained.
Ambassador Nikki Haley said the U.S. would take note of those countries looking to strip our nation of its sovereignty. And Trump has suggested those nations might see less foreign aid in the years to come.
Bolton likes the American response.
“For two long, countries had a completely free hand at the United Nations. They could denounce the United States. They could attack our allies. They could vote against us. It was all cost-free to them. So it shouldn’t be any surprise to us that their behavior in many respects was purely irresponsible,” said Bolton.
“I think if the president follows through and says we’re going to make sure there are consequences, it’s a potential game-changer, and not just directed at the countries that vote the wrong way but to use this as a wedge for substantial change in the way we fund the United Nations itself,” said Bolton.
But as 2018 dawns, Bolton says the far more immediate priorities are what do do about the emerging nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran.
“I expect 2018 to be a year of considerable activity,” said Bolton.
Awards: Significant Passing, Rising Star, Fading Into Political Oblivion
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America unveil their choices in three more categories for Three Martini Lunch awards for 2017. They begin on a somber note by honoring figures they were sorry to see pass away in 2017. Jim chooses a peacemaker on the international stage and Greg highlights a joyful and faithful conservative in Washington. They also reveal their choices for rising political star, with both selections coming from the U.S. Senate. And they discuss the political characters who exited the political stage and are likely to soon be forgotten.
Brady Talks Tax Reform
The man who spearheaded the tax reform effort in the House of Representatives says the new provisions will accelerate America’s economic growth and surpass previous expectations thanks to middle class tax relief and a far more favorable environment for corporations and small businesses.
On Wednesday, both the House and Senate approved the $1.5 trillion package without any support from Democrats on either side of Capitol Hill. The win for the GOP ends the year on a political high months after the deep frustration of failing to pass an Obamacare repeal or reform bill.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, led the tax reform push in the House of Representatives. He says the key to success on this package was Republicans all starting on the same legislative page. And Brady says the credit for that belongs at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We started off from a good place. There was a lot of common ground. That’s because President Trump agreed this summer to work with the House and Senate tax writers towards one tax reform approach. That really made the difference in my view,” said Brady.
There were some important differences between the original House and Senate bills that needed to be ironed out in a conference committee. The Senate got its way in keeping seven tax brackets, although they were adjusted to make sure the vast majority of Americans got a tax cut, and repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate.
The House also won some tussles in conference, including what Brady believes might be the most important provision in the bill.
“The most important economic issue was to make sure that these tax cuts occurred for local businesses as well as our companies that compete around the world now, on January 1st of next year. We need that growth and expansion now,” said Brady.
In the end, Brady says the final bill was better than either the House or Senate bills, something he says almost never happens in Congress.
The passage of the tax reform package comes at a time when the stock market is booming and economists see GDP growth of three percent or more for quite a while. Brady says the new laws will accelerate our growth even more.
“[Economists] think that will stay this way for another decade or more, so the question for the country is do we just settle for this very slow growth where paychecks never move and kids come out of school without good paying jobs or do we shake it up?” asked Brady.
“This tax reform plan was about shaking it up, giving people back more of what they earn, creating an economy where their paychecks grow and getting our jobs back from overseas. This tax reform plan achieves that in a big way,” said Brady.
Brady says virtually everyone will benefit from the new law, starting with middle class families.
“If you look at the typical family of four in America, they make $73,000, so two blue-collar workers. They save $2,059. I know Washington doesn’t think that’s much. But for American families, that really matters,” said Brady.
A dozen House Republicans voted against the bill over the issue of state and local tax deductions. Previously, Americans could deduct those against their federal taxes. The new bill restricts the deductions to the first $10,000 in state and local taxes, meaning wealthy people in high tax states like California, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey may well see higher tax bills.
But Brady says everybody else will have more money in their pockets.
“I don’t believe it will. Even the Tax Policy Center, which is very, very liberal and doesn’t even count growth and pretends the economy never changes – even they say 90 percent of Americans will see a tax cut, a real tax cut. Five percent will be close to break even. So this is real tax relief,” said Brady.
The biggest cuts, however, are for businesses, with corporate rates dropping 40 percent from 35 percent to 21 percent. Democrats assert that the money won’t go to new jobs or company expansion but will instead line the pockets of executives and shareholders.
Brady disagrees, contending businesses have been begging for tax relief for years in an effort to get more competitive.
“That 21 percent rate was all about making our businesses able to compete and win anywhere in the world, including here at home in America, then to be able to bring their earnings back to be reinvested in America. They can’t do that today.
“So that rate wasn’t a giveaway. It was a ‘get-them-back’ tax rate to bring our jobs back to America and make sure our workers and their businesses can compete,” said Brady.
Critics aren’t so sure. In a column for the Weekly Standard, Matt Labash excoriated Republicans for throwing crumbs to the middle class while giving a big wet kiss to big business. Labash points out that of the $1.5 trillion in tax relief, one trillion goes to businesses and $200 billion comes in estate tax relief, leaving just $300 billion over ten years in personal income tax relief.
Brady believes that’s a bad interpretation of the impact this bill will have on middle class families.
“Middle class tax relief is the top priority. You’ll see in there, up and down those income brackets, people are going to be able to keep more of what they earn and, more importantly, get those paychecks up by encouraging businesses to invest in workers in their companies. That is good for middle class America,” said Brady.
Leading liberals in Congress have used very strong language to condemn the legislation. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called it the worst piece of legislation ever to come to the House floor. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, predicted it would lead to the deaths of 10,000 Americans each year.
“I think they’re so obsessed with these things that they’ve ignored what this really does, which is to get America growing again and get people back on their feet in the economy,” said Brady.
“When they talk about the worst piece of legislation, I think most people look at Obamacare that’s the worst piece of legislation that’s been approved. Getting the individual mandate removed so people have choice about whether they want that health care is very critical,” said Brady.
The Annual Year-End Awards Begin
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have their tuxes on and are ready to begin handing out their crystal martini glass trophies as their six-part series on year-end political awards begins today. In this installment, Jim and Greg reveal their selections for most underrated political figure, with Jim reluctantly coming to what he sees as an obvious choice. They also name the most overrated figures and the people they see as the most honest in the arena of politics.