7 Things: ‘Rebuild Alabama’ pushback, your tax return isn’t going down, Cohen’s perjury problems and more …
7. Charles Barkley is the latest famous person to show up at a fraud trial in Birmingham; Barkley says he lost $6.15 million and he doesn’t expect to recover it
— Donald Watkins, Sr. and Donald Watkins, Jr. are charged with multiple counts of fraud for a scheme that has been going on for about a decade, Barkley is hardly the only famous person being brought to testify. Condoleezza Rice, Martin Luther King III and former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington have all testified against the pair about their attempts to raise money for a scheme involving a biofuels company the elder Watkins didn’t even own.
6. Democrats and Roy Moore want Roy Moore to run for U.S. Senate in Alabama
— Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is now actively trying to bait Moore into running, and it may be working. But many Republicans view this as a nightmare scenario, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s communications director saying, “The NRSC’s official stance is ABRM: anyone but Roy Moore.” Moore’s son is raising money under the absurd moniker “Conservative States of America” using “C.S.A.,” as a moniker that reminds you of the Confederacy, but claims, “I don’t even think he knows I’m raising money.” Delightful.
5. Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), Education Secretary Betsy Devos, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) look to expand school choice
— With the support of President Donald Trump, Byrne, DeVos and Cruz announce a piece of school choice legislation that would be “historic” if passed. The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act builds on the successful Alabama Accountability Act and uses similar Scholarship Granting Organizations. The bill would not use any funds currently allocated to public education, unlike the AAA, and it would not require new federal funding. This plan would provide a dollar-for-dollar non-refundable federal tax credit for contributions from individuals and businesses that donate to scholarship-granting organizations.
4. The U.S. Senate still hasn’t voted on rescinding the president’s emergency declaration — Its outcome is up in the air
— Opponents of President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build the wall still have not gathered enough support to pass their bill in the U.S. Senate, and overcome the obvious veto. News reports say they need one more vote to pass the measure. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said the president’s move will “turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis,” but he didn’t commit to voting to rescind it. The vote could come in two weeks, but Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) stated, “I wouldn’t be surprised if some changes are made.”
— Three straight days of testimony is not enough for Michael Cohen. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) says the president’s former fixer will be back on March 6 for more testifying behind closed doors. Unfortunately for the convicted liar, Cohen is now facing more accusations of lying from his public testimony. Congressmen Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr laying out false statements Cohen made under oath, including Cohen’s claim that he “never defrauded any bank,” even though he has pleaded guilty to bank fraud and tax fraud.
2. Your tax return is up — Fake news was wrong again
— In what is the most predictable news of the week, outside of Cohen’s perjury issues, is that the tweets of “your tax refund is going down” was fake news. The Treasury Department’s latest weekly figures actually show the average taxpayer refunds $40 more this year than last year. The media and their Democrats foolishly seized on the first few weeks of data to imply that the average American’s taxes went up even though everyone knows that is just not true.
— Wednesday, Governor Kay Ivey accurately pointed out that Republican Executive Committee members who passed a resolution against her gas tax proposal still haven’t seen the proposal. This was true because she was just unveiling it days after their vote. But other elected officials still haven’t seen a final bill or proposal and won’t commit to voting for the bill until they do. This bill will be discussed next week in a special session and the plan is to pass the bill by next Saturday.