What’s it like outside? Better than yesterday, but it’s below freezing, so watch out for frozen slush and patches of ice. The snow emergency was lifted in Boston at 7 a.m., but schools are closed again.
Commuter alert: The commuter rail is back on its regular weekday schedule, so allow extra time for delays. The ferries are operating, and the Mattapan trolley is back in service.
While you were sleeping: Pulitzer Prize winning reporter David Cay Johnston (and MSNBC) published the two main pages of Trump’s 2005 federal 1040 form, which showed he made $152.7 million and paid $5.3 million in regular income tax, a tax rate of just 3.48 percent.
He took a $103.2 million writedown, probably the last bit of the $915.7 million in losses The New York Times reported he declared in 1995, the result of the financial wreckage he caused in the early 1990s after he mismanaged three Atlantic City casinos, launched an airline business that failed, and bought the iconic Plaza Hotel in Manhattan and bankrupted it. He also had $17 million in itemized deductions, leaving a taxable income of $31.6 million.
However, because of the huge deductions he took, the Alternative Minimum Tax kicked in. The AMT, which Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1986, is designed to make sure that high earners with a ton of deductions still pay a minimum amount of tax. The AMT added $31.3 million to Trump’s tax bill, for a total tax paid of $36.6 million. That raised his tax rate to 24 percent. Now we know why Trump wants to eliminate the AMT in his tax overhaul.
The tax return that reporter Johnston found in his mailbox is stamped “Client Copy,” leading Johnston to speculate that Trump himself leaked the document because it shows he paid taxes, and to distract from the rift within the GOP over the health care bill and the investigations into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
Also, there was a major hack on Twitter, with a swastika-themed tweet showing up on the accounts of many high-profile brands, businesses, and public figures.
Hey, sport: The Celtics are back in action, hosting the Timberwolves at the Garden (7:30 p.m., CSNHD and 100.7 FM). Even though they’ve been a .500 team in the past 10 games, luckily for them Cleveland has been even worse (4-6). So the Cs remain in second place, 2 1/2 games back.
The Bruins are in Calgary for a 9 p.m. game (NESN and 98.5 FM).
The Sox are at the Rays at 1:05 p.m. in Florida (WEEI radio).
President Trump heads to Nashville today for a campaign-style rally at which he’s expected to talk about health care and school choice. While he’s in the city, he’ll also lay a wreath at the tomb of Andrew Jackson to mark the 250th anniversary of the 7th president’s birth. Trump fashions himself as a latter-day Jackson, owing to Old Hickory’s populist campaign that defeated incumbent president John Quincy Adams. But there are significant differences: Jackson served in the military; Trump dodged the draft because of “minor” (his word) heel spurs. Jackson had extensive government experience. And if Jackson, a gentleman toward — and strong defender of — women, had heard Trump’s crude remarks to Billy Bush, he probably would have given him a caning. Also, Trump doesn’t believe in slavery; Jackson owned up to 150 people who worked the land at his 1,000-acre cotton plantation, The Hermitage.
Trump also stops in Michigan to meet with automakers amid reports that he intends to order a review of Obama-era vehicle fuel efficiency standards reached in a deal with the auto industry back in 2011. The higher mpg goals, designed to combat climate change, are estimated to save drivers $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the life of all vehicles while costing automakers about $200 billion over 13 years. Guess whose side Trump falls on.
Remember I told you last month that Trump strategy advisor Steve Bannon had brought a harsh Paul Ryan critic from his far-right website Breitbart to the White House, and Ryan’s friends and supporters viewed it as a warning that Ryan had better fall in line? Well, yesterday Breitbart released an audio recording of Ryan disavowing Trump to his House GOP colleagues on an October conference call soon after the revelation about Trump’s crude remarks about sexually assaulting women. His remarks were reported at the time, but not verbatim, and there was no recording available. Why now? An innocent explanation is that Breitbart just recently obtained the tape. The darker theory is that Breitbart, which believes that Ryan deliberately misled Trump about what was in his health care plan, is preparing to scapegoat Ryan if the bill fails. Let’s see today if Ryan reacts or continues to keep his powder dry.
When I was in college, a bunch of women in my dorm were hooked on the soap opera “All My Children” and watched it in the lounge every weekday. If Trump had been president, they wouldn’t have had to.
US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, says that FBI Director James Comey promised to tell him today whether the FBI is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Fed will almost certainly raise interest rates today.
The US hits its debt ceiling tonight, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has warned Congress that it has to act so the US doesn’t default. The problem is that Democrats are worried that the GOP will try to load up the bill with partisan measures they find unacceptable; they are asking for a “clean” bill.
Now that Russia is reasonably assured that its puppet Bashar al-Assad is safe as the bloodthirsty dictator of Syria, it’s turning its attention to Libya. Reuters and other news outlets are reporting that Russia has deployed special forces to an air base in western Egypt near Libya, raising concerns about its intentions in the oil-rich country, which has been rudderless since the overthrow and death of Muammar Gaddafi.
Dutch voters are flocking to the polls today to choose parliament — and, by extension, the ruling party and prime minister. One of the candidates, Geert Wilders, wants to stop immigration, close all mosques, ban the Koran, and leave the European Union.
Finally, Wayne Tracker? I can’t decide if that sounds more like a DC Comics superhero or a sidekick to Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. Turns out it’s the alias that Rex Wayne Tillerson used on a second e-mail account while he was CEO of Exxon Mobil, used to exchange sensitive information. It’s apparently not unusual for corporate executives to use an e-mail alias to throw off hackers, but here’s the problem: Tillerson is under investigation in New York for allegedly misleading investors by discrediting the risks associated with climate change even as Exxon had concluded behind the scenes that human activity was causing global warming. The question is whether these secret e-mails show that he had a personal position on climate change that differed from his public stance as CEO.
Meanwhile, “Wayne Tracker” isn’t nearly as good an alias as Anthony Weiner’s sexting pseudonym “Carlos Danger,” but it is better than the “John Barron” moniker Trump used when he called reporters pretending to be a publicist so he could brag about himself. But it’s odd enough to have prompted Slate to create The Wayne Tracker Name Generator.
It uses Tillerson’s model — your real middle name becomes your alias first name, and your alias last name begins with the same letter as your real last name and reflects Tillerson’s Texas/Boy Scouts roots somehow. My Wayne Tracker name is Marie Herdsman, Trump’s is John Trapper, Kellyanne Conway is Elizabeth Campfire, and Sean Spicer is Michael Saddlebuck. Try it for yourself and let me know what your alias is.