Saturday News: Can you say "Death Tax"?


DALE FOLWELL NOW WANTS TO COLLECT OVERPAYMENTS FROM ESTATES OF DEAD STATE EMPLOYEES: Families of some dead state employees may be getting a letter from the state Treasurer. The message: Pay up. Treasurer Dale Folwell’s office has already been recovering disability overpayments from former employees who are still alive. Now, according to agency emails, it has broadened the effort to the estates of former workers who have died. Last summer, the agency began notifying people who receive payments from a state program called the transitional disability income plan that since 2006 they had been getting too much money and the office was going to start taking it back. In winter and spring of this year, managers in Folwell’s office developed plans to get money back from 61 people who owed $871,892. Three others had died after January 2017 and owed $64,220.

HAIR-PULLING MCCOMAS RESIGNS FROM DOT BOARD IN SHAME: Republican Danny McComas of Wilmington submitted his resignation letter to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who had announced his appointment as an at-large member to the board in February. McComas served in the state House for 17 years until 2012, when he became the State Ports Authority chairman. The governor "believes stepping down was the appropriate thing to do," Cooper spokesman Ford Porter wrote in an email. McComas' three-line letter made no reference to last week's report by WUNC radio. "It has been an esteemed honor and privilege to serve," he wrote. A phone message left at the Wilmington shipping company where he is chief executive was not immediately returned. Marisol Jimenez told the radio station that while a lobbyist in early 2003, McComas moved her around the room by her ponytail after noticing a tattoo on the back of her neck.

RUSSIANS ANGERED OVER TRUMP SUPPLYING ANTI-TANK WEAPONS TO UKRAINE: A senior Russian diplomat says the U.S. decision to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons will fuel the conflict in the country's east. U.S. officials said Friday that President Donald Trump's administration approved a plan to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, including Javelin anti-tank missiles. Ukraine has long sought the weapons for its fight against Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 since April 2014. Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told the state RIA Novosti news agency Saturday that the U.S. move "raises the danger of derailing the process of peaceful settlement in Ukraine." A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany has helped reduce the scale of fighting in eastern Ukraine, but clashes have continued and the agreement's provisions for political settlement have stalled.

ESTABLISHMENT REPUBLICANS GEAR UP FOR WAR ON STEVE BANNON'S CRAZY CANDIDATES: Ward, who lost a primary challenge to Sen. John McCain in 2016, has appeared on Infowars, a right-wing radio show that traffics in conspiracy theories and held a hearing about the theory that exhaust trails from jets may be poisoning people, leading opponents to dub her "Chemtrail Kelli." Chris McDaniel narrowly lost a primary challenge to Mississippi's Sen. Thad Cochran in 2014 and also has a history of controversial statements on slavery and immigration. Like Moore, Ward, McDaniel and Tarkanian have the backing of Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House adviser who's vowed to wage political war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by backing challengers to some incumbents. McConnell's allies have sought to send a message that candidates who align with Bannon will pay the price. They're hoping that sinks in not just with voters, but with donors whom insurgents would need to fund their challenges. "Steve Bannon is toxic, and we saw that in Alabama," said Chris Pack, a spokesman for Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC supporting McConnell's candidates. "Candidates that are drawn into Bannon's universe will now have to answer for Bannon's baggage, like supporting an accused child molester."

TRUMP SIGNS TAX BILL EARLY THEN FLIES HIS FAT ASS DOWN TO MAR-A-LAGO: Trump said that he originally planned to sign the tax bill early next year but moved it up on the spur of the moment after watching media coverage Friday morning about the legislation. After finishing the bill signings, he was off to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, his plane leaving Joint Base Andrews in Maryland just before noon EST. The first major overhaul of the nation’s tax laws since 1986 could add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Republican leaders have said they’re willing to take that step in pursuit of a boost to the economy. But some in the GOP worry their party could face a political backlash without an aggressive public relations tour. Starting next year, families making between $50,000 and $75,000 will get average tax cuts of $890, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Families making between $100,000 and $200,000 would get average tax cuts of $2,260, while families making more than $1 million would get average tax cuts of nearly $70,000, according to the analysis. But if the cuts for individuals are allowed to expire, most Americans — those making less than $75,000 — would see tax increases in 2027, according to congressional estimates.