For months, comedian Bill Cosby has come under relentless attack amid allegations that he raped dozens of women over the years after slipping them drugs. As the controversy grew, some on Capitol Hill questioned whether something should be done to strip the long-celebrated actor of a Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded him in 2002 during the Bush administration.
Today at a White House news conference, President Obama abruptly veered from an extensive defense of the Iran nuclear deal to a thinly veiled denunciation of Cosby as a serial rapist. In response to a reporter’s question of whether he would consider rescinding the medal, Obama said, “There’s no precedent for revoking a medal,” and that “we don’t have the mechanism.”
Then, after noting that he rarely publicly discusses pending civil law suits that might result in criminal charges, he made this startling pronouncement: “I’ll say this: If you give a woman -- or a man for that matter -- without his or her knowledge a drug and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape.”
It was a dramatic moment as the first African American president in U.S. history denounced from the White House pulpit the conduct of one of the most prominent and (once) beloved black actors and comedians of modern times.
Cosby and his lawyers for months have dismissed as fantasy claims by more than two dozen women that they had been sexually assaulted by the actor over the past several decades – frequently after having been given knock-out drugs to make them groggy or put them to sleep.
But this ‘he said-she said’ controversy came to an end earlier this month after Cosby had admitted in a deposition giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
The documents, dating back to 2005, stem from a civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand -- one of the dozens of women who have publicly accused the comedian of sexual assault. The records were made public after The Associated Press went to court to compel their release.
Following that report, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said it was an outrage that Cosby continued to hold the highest civilian honor in America. In a statement to Politico, a spokeswoman for Gillibrand said Cosby's medal must be revoked "because we need to set a clear example that sexual assault will not be tolerated in this country."
Obama apparently agrees with the senators, but just doesn’t know what he could do to take the medal back.
“Tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product is expected to be 16.5 percent next year. The long-term average in a full-employment economy is 18.5 percent of GDP; if revenue were at that level for the coming decade, debt would be $3.2 trillion lower and the 10-year fiscal gap would be halved. Returning to past revenue levels, however, will be inadequate over time, because an aging population will increase Medicare and Social Security costs. This need not pose a problem: Revenue was roughly 19 percent of GDP in the late 1990s, and economic conditions were excellent.”
– Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Richard E. Rubin, writing in The Washington Post
“You … often hear the claim that a lot of tax cuts will ‘pay for themselves,’ that they’ll cause so much additional economic activity that the revenue feedback from that activity will fully offset the direct revenue loss caused by the tax cut so that you end up making money for the federal government, or at least not losing any money. Now, of course that is theoretically possible and it would happen at extreme rates. I mean if a country had a 99 percent flat rate income tax and lowered it to 98 percent, I believe that they almost certainly would collect more revenue at the 98 percent rate than they did at the 99 percent rate. But the idea that this type of effect would occur at today’s tax levels just requires responses that are much bigger than statistical evidence would support and I think much bigger than common sense would indicate if you just ask people how they themselves would react to the tax cut.”
It’s summertime and the driving is anything but easy if you want to get to your favorite beach or mountain cabin for a well-deserved break. As lawmakers consider a plan to raise federal fuel taxes by 15 cents a gallon, here’s a look at the current state-level taxes on gasoline, courtesy of the Tax Foundation:
The New York Times’ Jim Tankersley tweets: “In order to raise enough revenue to start paying down the debt, Trump would need tariffs to be ~4% of GDP. They're currently 0.2%.”
Read Tankersley’s full breakdown of why tariffs won’t come close to eliminating the deficit or paying down the national debt here.