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  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented on the border force the U.S. is helping to train in northern and eastern Syria: “Turkey will suffocate this terror army before it’s born. Our preparations have been completed. The operation is due to start any moment. After that, other regions will follow.”

  • Ben Weingarten summarizes the extraordinary actions the Obama administration took to placate Iran during the nuclear deal negotiations, and asks if there’s anything the Obama administration wouldn’t have done to get a deal:

    The American people deserve the answers to some related questions: What other investigations, military operations, or intelligence activities did the Obama administration disrupt on account of the Iran deal negotiations? How did the Obama administration’s desire to achieve a deal with Iran affect U.S. policy vis-à-vis countries like Turkey in the case of Zarrab, or Russia in the case of Project Cassandra? Is there any action Iran could have taken that would have caused the Obama administration to step away from the negotiation table?

  • Mitch McConnell is “filling the tree” on the bill reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which means amendments won’t be allowed. That increases the likelihood that Rand Paul and/or Ron Wyden will filibuster the bill.

  • The new tax bill places limits on deductions for state and local taxes, which is driving state legislators in blue states to “creative” workarounds:

    The most ridiculous idea along these lines comes out of Sacramento, where a Democratic supermajority controls California’s legislature. That state, which has some of the highest taxes in the country, will find its residents particularly aggrieved once they have to pay all of them without a federal deduction. The solution, according to State Senate leader Kevin de León, is to pretend a tax isn’t a tax. Instead, it’s a charitable donation to the state government. Problem solved!

    De León, who hopes to bring ideas like this to the U.S. Senate in 2019, proclaimed in a recent statement that “our hard-earned tax dollars should not be subject to double-taxation, especially not to line the pockets of the Trump family, hedge fund managers and private jet owners.” You might think he was proposing that one of the two income taxes (federal or state) be repealed. You would be wrong.

    Instead, he wants only to restore the deduction from one tax for the amount levied by the other. Your dollars would still be taxed twice, but some people would reduce the federal tax they pay by a fraction of the amount paid to the state. (To actually avoid paying taxes on income used to pay state taxes, you would need a credit, not a deduction. The deduction only saves the marginal rate on the income devoted to state taxes—the fraction of the fraction.)

    Although he chooses to hide it, de León probably knows the difference between a credit and a deduction. He also probably knows that pretending a tax is a charitable donation will not fool anyone. But no one ever got far in politics by telling people hard truths, even when math is involved. Instead, we get magical thinking and willful blindness.

  • Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin all submitted plans to the federal government to require able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries to work.

  • Japan’s military caught China sailing a submarine close to the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

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