Public housing and rental subsidies, more waste-

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February 23, 2017

From Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama, American presidents and their housing administrators have cut ribbons on subsidized housing projects and announced new housing initiatives aimed at uplifting the poor. The specific policies have changed over time, but the theory has always been that federal aid is needed because private markets fail to provide adequate housing for people with low incomes. As it turns out, such claims about market failure are erroneous and federal efforts have often resulted in harmful and counterproductive outcomes.

The federal government has funded one expensive approach to low-income housing after another since the 1930s — without seeming to notice that the new approaches were made necessary by the failures of past public policies. The public housing projects erected to replace slums soon became dilapidated and crime-ridden. The federal housing vouchers meant to end “concentrated poverty” simply moved poverty around. And another federal effort — the low income housing tax credit — appears to have aided developers more than low-income households.

Another problem is that federal housing activities have been used as a pretext for misguided interventions into local planning activities. Under Barack Obama, for example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pushed what it termed “affirmatively furthering fair housing” to encourage the relocation of poor households to higher-income neighborhoods. The new HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, is right that such interventions smack of “social engineering.”

President Donald Trump says that his administration will end failed programs and repeal counterproductive regulations. As such, the administration should reexamine housing programs because they create a myriad of distortions and social damage. Federal interventions undermine neighborhoods, encourage dependency, and create disincentives for long-term maintenance and improvements in housing. They also rest on the false premise that the private sector cannot provide housing for those of modest means.

Federal housing subsidies are also expensive to taxpayers. In 2016, the federal government spent $30 billion on rental subsidies for low-income households and almost $6 billion on public housing.1

The following sections discuss the origins of federal subsidies, the distortions caused by public housing and rental subsidies, and the ability of private markets to provide housing without government help.

Origins of Federal Housing Aid

For generations, activists have viewed the housing conditions of lower-income Americans with despair, and their concerns have prompted many federal interventions. The first large effort was the National Housing Act of 1937, which has been repeatedly amended over the decades. A pattern has emerged: each time a bold new approach is attempted, and then some initial perceived success is followed in subsequent decades by unintended and harmful side-effects.

This pattern began to emerge as early as 1854 when the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor decided to build a “model tenement” at the corner of Elizabeth and Mott Streets. Constructed by a newly formed limited-dividend corporation, the building degenerated rapidly, and in a little more than a decade it had became one of the worst slums in the city. It was sold, and soon after demolished. Like later public housing projects, this effort aimed at limiting or eliminating the profit motive in housing, and the result was that there was little incentive for anyone to maintain or improve the structure.

Ignoring such early failures, large federal efforts to provide low-income housing were launched in the 1930s and subsequent decades. In 1932, President Herbert Hoover oversaw the creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which made loans to companies for low-income homebuilding and slum clearance.2 In 1933, Congress created the Public Works Administration, which pursued low-income housing and slum clearance projects through loans to companies, loans and grants to local governments, and direct federal efforts.3 The Housing Act of 1937 gave a permanent boost to public housing by providing federal financial assistance to local housing agencies for constructing and maintaining housing projects.

All these attempts ignored the fact that during 1870–1930 — when there were high levels of immigration and rapid urbanization — private builders erected many thousands of units of low-cost housing that were “affordable” to those with low incomes. Reformers who bemoaned the lack of low-income housing failed to understand the vitality of neighborhoods with modest dwellings, which served as building blocks allowing residents to own their own homes and move up the “housing ladder” to better, larger homes as they became better off.

As an example, predominantly African American neighborhoods in St. Louis that were demolished to make way for the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex were not dominated by slumlords, as conventional wisdom has it. Rather, they included notable percentages of both owner-occupied and owner-present structures; the latter were multifamily houses in which the owner’s family lived on site.4 Neighborhoods such as these provided the means for low-income households to own property that could appreciate in value. As for Pruitt-Igoe, it began to deteriorate soon after being completed in the 1950s, and it was ultimately demolished in the early 1970s.

Notwithstanding the proven ability of American builders to tailor acceptable homes to the incomes of those of modest means, the Housing Act of 1949 called for “a decent home and suitable living environment for every American family.”5 The act authorized the construction of hundreds of thousands of public housing units, and it expanded the pool of families eligible for public housing.6 By 1964, there were 582,000 units of public housing in the nation occupied by 2.1 million people.

That large federal effort occurred even before President Lyndon Johnson’s expansion of federal spending on the cities and the establishment of HUD in 1965. HUD was given a wide-ranging mission to make over poor inner city neighborhoods with housing and community development subsidies. HUD’s first secretary, Robert Weaver, had an optimistic vision of “massive housing rehabilitation efforts . . .[to] achieve our goal of adequate housing for all families.”7

However, the optimism of reformers in the 1960s was soon dashed by the growing failures of federal housing efforts. Even by the early 1960s, public housing was becoming infamous for its crime, graffiti, smashed windows, and general deterioration, and by the 1970s many projects had become social disasters.8 A landmark in government failure occurred in 1972 with the demolition of Pruitt-Igoe, which consisted of 33 11-story apartment buildings. Considered an “architectural masterpiece” when built in the early 1950s, the federally funded project was demolished after vandalism and crime rendered it uninhabitable.9 Since then, many more federal housing initiatives have been launched, but most have ended up as expensive failures.

source- husock, howard-national housing act of 1937-reconstruction finance corp-housing act of 1949-

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Government’s empty buildings are costing taxpayers billions-

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On a street corner in downtown Washington, D.C., David Wise is opening a century-old iron gate in front of an old, boarded-up brick building.

Wise is an investigator for the Government Accountability Office, the government’s watchdog group. His mission is to figure out why the government owns so many buildings, like this one, that it doesn’t use.

The General Services Administration owns a firehouse in Baltimore with a moldy interior and collapsed ceilings. According to a government report, it hasn’t been used in more than a decade.

The 132-year-old brick structure is sitting on prime real estate six blocks from the White House. It was once a school, but it’s been vacant for almost three decades.

“All the walls are peeled, there’s collapsed ceilings, there’s moisture problems. It runs pretty much the gamut,” Wise says.

Government estimates suggest there may be 77,000 empty or underutilized buildings across the country. Taxpayers own them, and even vacant, they’re expensive. The Office of Management and Budget says these buildings could be costing taxpayers $1.7 billion a year.

That’s because someone has to mow the lawns, keep the pipes from freezing, maintain security fences, pay for some basic power — even when the buildings are just sitting empty.

“To see a building that’s 28,000 square feet, just boarded up three stories — it’s really a shame not to have it … put to a use that would be of benefit to taxpayers and citizens as a whole,” Wise says.

An Unreliable List

But doing something with these buildings is a complicated job, partly because the federal government does not know what it owns.

Wise and his colleagues have been using the only known centralized database that the government has, the Federal Real Property Profile, and it’s not reliable, he says.

This federally owned cabin in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee was reported in the Federal Real Property Profile database as being in excellent condition.

“We’d see a building that maybe looked something like this, and the data would say it was 100 percent utilized, and we’d look around and see nobody,” he says. “We’d go to other buildings, and [the list would] say it was unutilized, and we’d find that the building was overcrowded.”

Some buildings listed as being in great shape had trees growing through the roofs. And many buildings weren’t even on the list.

Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, is one of the lawmakers pushing to get a clearer picture.

“We don’t know how many properties we have, we don’t know which ones we own, which ones are leased,” he says. “We don’t know whether we ought to be building or buying instead of leasing.”

But Carper says that even when an agency knows it has a building it would like to sell, bureaucratic hurdles limit what it can do. No federal agency can sell anything unless it’s uncontaminated, asbestos-free and environmentally safe. Those are expensive fixes.

Then the agency has to make sure another one doesn’t want it. Then state and local governments get a crack at it, then nonprofits — and finally, a 25-year-old law requires the government to see whether it could be used as a homeless shelter.

Many agencies just lock the doors and say forget it.

A warehouse in Fort Worth, Texas, owned by the General Services Administration, has been vacant since 2008 and cost nearly $475,000 to maintain in 2010. It was sold the following year.

Saving Space

A panel made up of the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies is trying to tackle the problem. But the keeper of the property database is the General Services Administration.

Dan Tangherlini inherited it when he took over as GSA administrator two years ago. Tangherlini says he wants to see an accurate list so agencies don’t wind up leasing space when they could use an empty government office somewhere.

“We’re not arguing that the data can’t be better and [that] it shouldn’t be better. In fact, we’re working really hard to make it better,” he says. “But we’re really interested in making it useful.”

He also wants to know which agencies can shrink their workspace, like the GSA did. Tangherlini’s predecessors had a 1,600-square-foot office with floor-to-ceiling carved walnut paneling and silver-plated chandeliers. Tangherlini turned it into a common area that any employee can use. His office is now a large room with 50 GSA officials sitting at desks.

The downsizing was part of his agency’s consolidation plan to get rid of old office buildings and save $24 million, he says.

“I think that people would have detected the cognitive dissonance if I had been sitting in that office, telling them how they have to save money by saving space,” he says.

Tangherlini says space-sharing is the future for government agencies. They just have to figure out where all the space is — and whether or not it’s empty.

source-All Things ConsideredLaura Sullivan- carper,tom-gao-tangherlini, dan-gsa adm-

GAO: U.S. sent $54 billion in remittances overseas; Mexico, China Receive Most U.S. money

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The United States is the largest source of remittances — or funds sent overseas by foreign-born residents — in the world, according to the Government Accountability Office.

A new GAO report, requested by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and House Budget Chairman Tom Price M.D. (R-GA), reveals that foreign-born residents in the U.S. sent $54.2 billion in remittances abroad in 2014. Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines received the most money.

According to GAO’s analysis of the World Bank’s Bilateral Remittance Matrix, in 2014, about $25 billion was sent to Mexico, some $15 billion was sent to China, over $10 billion sent to India, and about $10 billion went to the Philippines. Other top receiving countries included Vietnam, Nigeria, Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Korea.

In 2013 Vitter introduced legislation — “The Remittance Status Verification Act” or the “Wire Act” that would impose a fee on remittances made by customers who wire money abroad but are unable to prove their legal status. The revenue from that fine would be directed to border security.

“The Obama administration has shown complete incompetence when it comes to securing our borders and a complete disinterest in enforcing our immigration laws – and it’s costing us a lot of money,” Vitter, who has reintroduced the “Wire Act” this Congress, said Tuesday in reaction to the GAO report.

According to a GAO footnote there are conflicting studies on whether illegal immigrants are more likely to send remittances depending on the country of origin.

“With regard to the likelihood of remittances, one study of Mexican migrants finds that unauthorized immigrants are more likely to remit, while another study of African migrants to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries finds that unauthorized migrants are less likely to remit,” the report reads.

In addition to its analysis of remittances abroad, GAO reports that the methods the Bureau of Economic Analysis— which estimated that remittances from the U.S. in 2014 totaled $40 billion — used to gauge the level of remittances from the U.S. are unreliable and made recommendations to improve them. While BEA disagreed that their estimates were inaccurate they agreed to implement GAO recommendations.

In a separate GAO report, also requested by Vitter and Price and released the same day as GAO’s remittance estimate analysis, the watchdog found challenges in preventing remittance money laundering and other illicit uses in part due to the high reporting threshold of $3,000.

“Remittances can be used to launder proceeds from different types of criminal activities, including drug trafficking and human smuggling, through methods such as structuring,” wherein remittance senders would make multiple payments to stay below the $3,000 reporting level, the report reads.

As Vitter’s office argued, GAO’s reports offered insights into Vitter’s legislation, namely that the bill could raise up to $1 billion in revenue for border security and helping to keep money in the U.S. Additionally, it could help with immigration enforcement.

“DHS officials we spoke with said that, in general, collecting identification information would be beneficial to investigations but that verifying legal immigration status would not necessarily hurt or help their investigations,” GAO’s report on remittance money laundering reads. “They added that a lower funds transfer threshold was more crucial to their investigations. DHS officials did say that knowing senders’ legal immigration status could be beneficial if DHS was looking at potentially removing illegal immigrants from the country.”

Added Vitter, “This GAO report helps us determine how massive the remittances problem is with illegal immigrants sending billions out of the U.S. – money they likely haven’t paid income taxes on. Basically, we would be able to improve on our border security while making illegal immigrants pay for it.”

source-vitter, david-the remittance status verfication act-bea-gao-

 

+ Politics –$45 billion wasted in redundant federal programs: GAO

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The federal government has no idea how many tax dollars it’s wasting on redundant federal programs every year—but it’s likely in the neighborhood of $45 billion.

That’s according to the Government Accountability Office, which identified more than two dozen new areas of inefficiency and overlap in its annual report to Congress. This is on top of the more than 160 redundant areas that the GAO has identified in its three previous reports.

“It’s impossible to account for how much money is wasted through duplication, in part because the government doesn’t keep track of which programs each agency is responsible for,” Comptroller Gene Dodaro said prepared congressional testimony.

The agency deems programs and activities as redundant or inefficient if more than one federal agency is involved in the same broad area of national need “which may result in inefficiencies in how the government delivers services.”

$45 billion in tax money wasted

WJAX – Jacksonville, FL

Right now, there are 10 different agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services that are providing similar services relating to AIDS outreach in minority communities. There are also 11 different agencies performing autism research without properly coordinating their efforts.

In another example included in the 200-page report, the auditors found that Colorado’s Schriever Air Force Base has eight different satellite control centers controlling 10 different satellite programs.

Meanwhile, the report also identified a $4.2 billion loan program within the Department of Energy for Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing that hasn’t been utilized since 2011.

Duplication and inefficiencies across the sprawling federal government are nothing new. Last year’s GAO report highlighted similarly egregious examples of redundancy including $30 million worth of catfish inspections performed by two separate agencies and $66 million in contracts awarded by two different arms of the Department of Homeland Security unknowingly researching the exact same thing.

Congress mandated that GAO conduct this report in an effort to cut back on wasteful spending. So far, the government has been slow to respond to the GAO’s suggestions. Since the first report in 2011, the government has only fully addressed 20 percent of the 162 redundant wasteful areas that GAO has identified. Meanwhile, about 60 percent have been partially addressed and 15 percent were left completely ignored.

There was, however, a spot of good news in the latest report. Auditors said by addressing some of the inefficiencies from the last three years, the government has realized about $10 billion in cost savings.

Still, auditors warned there is still plenty of work to be done.

“Although the executive branch agencies and Congress have made some progress in addressing some suggested actions, many other actions require leadership attention to ensure that they are fully addressed,” the auditors said in the report. “Without increased or renewed leadership focus, agencies may miss opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their programs and save taxpayers’ dollars.”

“Turning this ready-made list of cuts into savings is one of the best ways Congress can regain the trust and confidence of the American people,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a staunch critic of government overlap, said in a statement. “Congress, particularly the appropriations committees, has no excuse to not achieve these savings when GAO has already done much of Congress’ work for it,” he said.

Comptroller General Dodaro will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next Tuesday about the GAO’s findings.

source-gao-feednetwork-dodaro, gene-comptoller-

Climate change funding and managemen

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Over the past 20 years, the federal government has spent billions of dollars to address climate-related risks. Coordination and planning are critical to effective and efficient efforts.

Federal funding for climate change research, technology, international assistance, and adaptation has increased from $2.4 billion in 1993 to $11.6 billion in 2014, with an additional $26.1 billion for climate change programs and activities provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. As shown in figure 1, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reported federal climate change funding in three main categories since 1993:

  • technology to reduce emissions,
  • science to better understand climate change, and
  • international assistance for developing countries.

Figure 1: Reported Federal Climate Change Funding by Category, 1993-2014

Note: OMB has also reported on federal funding for wildlife and natural resource adaptation since 2010. However, the data the agency reports in the adaptation category does not fully represent adaptation funding as it only includes data from the Department of Interior.  OMB reports Department of Interior funding for adaptation (adjusted for inflation) as follows: 2010 $71 million, 2011 $37 million, 2012 $92 million, 2013 $98 million, 2014 $112 million.

a OMB did not publically report climate change funding for these years. OMB provided data for 2007 and 2008 directly to GAO. 2011 data are from the Congressional Research Service.

b According to OMB’s report, this amount is an estimate of budget authority for fiscal year 2013 as of June 21, 2013, and reflects the amount available for the year calculated as the appropriated amount minus reductions pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub. L. No. 112-25) sequestration order issued March 1, 2013 and any known and applicable reprogrammings, transfers, or other related adjustments.

c Proposed budget authority, according to OMB’s report.

As illustrated in figure 2, many federal entities manage programs and activities related to climate change. Each of these federal departments and agencies is operating under its own set of authorities and responsibilities and addresses climate change in ways relevant to its mission. In the context of providing climate-related information, the National Research Council observed that no single government agency or centralized unit could perform all the required functions, and that coordination of agency roles and regional activities is a necessity.

Figure 2: Selected Coordination Mechanisms for Federal Climate Change Activities

Note: This updated figure was provided to GAO by the Executive Office of the President in February 2015. The original figure was printed in GAO-11-317. See the original image here.

As a result of climate-related risks, fiscal exposure for the federal government has increased in many areas, including federal property and infrastructure, supply chains, disaster aid, and federal insurance programs. Consequently, Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks has been on GAO’s High Risk List since 2013.

Over the past several years, federal agencies have made progress toward better organizing across and within agencies and among the various levels of government. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, for example, is a confederation of the research arms of 13 federal departments and agencies that carry out research and develop the nation’s response to climate change. In 2014, it published the National Climate Assessment report, which reviews observed and projected changes in climate in the United States, the effects of these changes, and options for responding.

source-gao-omb-

What is former FBI director James Comey’s net worth?

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Upon watching the FBI press conferences yesterday I got to thinking about the government, its employees, and how much money they make. If you’ve been following some of our most recent net worth stories you know that the Trump Administration is one of the wealthiest administrations in United States history but what about other government officials like, say, former FBI head honcho James Comey.

As you may know, former director Comey was the 7th director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), but what is the salary for that position? What is James Comey’s net worth?

James Comey’s Profile:

Net worth in 2017: $11 million
Profession: Former FBI Director
Age: 56
Source Of Wealth: Political Career
Residence: Westport, Connecticut
Citizenship: U.S. Citizen
Marital Status: Married; Patrice Failor
Education: University of Chicago

James Comey’s Career

James Brien Comey, Jr. was born on December 14, 1960 in Yonkers, New York. He grew up in New York with his family and went on to attend the College of William and Mary. At William and Mary, he studied chemistry and religion. Three years after receiving his Bachelor’s degree Comey received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Chicago School of Law.

Comey received his first job as a law clerk for a U.S. District Judge in Manhattan shortly after graduating from the University of Chicago. He later joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (1987-1993). During his time there he served as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and helped prosecute the Gambino crime family.

He moved away from the city and served as the Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the Richmond Division of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Comey acted as the deputy special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee and lead prosecutor in the Khobar Towers bombing case. He also spent time as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law.

After spending some time in Richmond Comey moved back to New York to continue work as a U.S. Attorney. In 2005 he announced that he would be leaving the Department of Justice and moving to Lockheed Martin, the largest independent contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense. He served as the General Counsel and Senior Vice President of the company until 2010. In 2010 he announced that he would leave Lockheed to join Bridgewater Associates, an investment firm.

Former President Barack Obama appointed Comey as the Director of the FBI and, on September 4, 2013, Comey was sworn into the director’s office for a 10-year term. Now Comey is the face of one of the most-talked-about news items in the world: the Trump Administration. Is Comey wealthy like most of the new Administration? Can he be persuaded with cash? What is James Comey’s net worth?

FBI director James Comey’s net worth is about $11 million, a pretty large number for an appointed government official (though maybe not in today’s current administration). How did Comey generate this kind of wealth?

Well, a majority of Comey’s net worth comes from the jobs he held prior to becoming the director of the FBI. It was reported that James Comey raked in $6 million in one year while working at Lockheed Martin. He was also able to pull in a significant amount of income while working at Bridgewater Associates. When Comey announced he was leaving Bridgewater he was given more than $3 million in profit sharing from the time he served there (about six years).

When he was appointed as the director of the FBI Comey had to report all of his assets, which included a stock portfolio with an estimated worth of $5 million. It was also reported that in 2015, two years after his nomination, Comey was attempting to sell his $3 million Westport, Connecticut home (which has also contributed to his overall net worth).

Now Comey is earning about $200,000 per year as the director of the FBI (in addition to lifetime benefits and a number of other perks) and will continue to make that amount of money until 2023 when his term is over. Comey will also likely continue dabbling in the stock market, which may or may not increase his overall net worth. One thing is for certain though, Comey has an interesting few years ahead of him working with the Trump Administration in charge in Washington.

source-Amanda Stewart, M-saving advise.com-

The conscience of Ann Coulter

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Give her credit: Ann Coulter is a woman of strong convictions. Those convictions may be wrongheaded, bizarre, and even bigoted, but she knows what she believes and is willing to hold Donald Trump accountable. Unless he builds the wall (and not just some candy-ass fence) she’s done with him—ready to turn on him with the white hot bitterness of the true believer who suddenly awakes to betrayal.

It’s easy to mock Coulter, who wrote a book titled In Trump We Trust, for ever thinking she could trust Trump (and I will probably go on doing so), but at least something mattered to her. Unlike the cultists for whom Trump can do no wrong, and who will not hold him to any of his promises as long as he fights the right enemies, Coulter’s politics have a very clear standard. “We have been betrayed over and over and over with presidents promising to do something about immigration,” she explained to the New York Times‘s Frank Bruni. “If he played us for suckers, oh, you will not see rage like you have seen.”

Trump does seem worried. After a few days pretending that he hadn’t really been rolled on the border wall (Congress allocated only $1.6 billion of the $25 billion he had requested in the budget passed last month), Trump has ramped up his anti-immigrant rhetoric, killed the deal to regularize the status of so-called “dreamers,” lashed out at Mexico, and authorized sending the National Guard to patrol the border.

Long gone are the days when he mused aloud about a “bill of love.” Now he’s reportedly listening intently to advice from a menagerie of misfit toys, including cable talking heads like Sean Hannity and immigration hardliner Lou Dobbs. And Ann is… unhappy. (By her account , they engaged in an “obscenity laced” shouting match in the Oval Office over his “betrayals.”)

The message of the hardliners is simple: If he goes all squishy on immigration, he will lose his base. Back in 2015, he launched his presidential campaign by adopting Coulter’s image of “Mexican rapists” coming across the border, and he never looked back. This was the secret sauce of his improbable rise to power: He proposed banning all Muslims, deporting millions of illegal aliens and their children, and building a big beautiful wall. And it all worked. The message now: He can’t go soft without dispiriting and disillusioning those voters who propelled him to the GOP nomination and the presidency.

This has been the one constant in his erratic, shambolic presidency: Whenever he feels this kind of heat, he retreats to his base, fanning the flames that keep them angry, aroused, and loyal.

She did all that because she was a believer. She was one of the “ones who would die for Trump, who would defend him from anything, who did defend him and blew off the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape — blew off everything” she explained to Bruni. “We kept coming back. He could sell Ivanka Trump merchandise from the Oval Office if he would just build the wall.” Her phrasing about selling merchandise is interesting here, because some of us are old enough to remember when she declared that Trump could actually ” perform abortions in the White House ,” as long as he took a hard line on Mexicans. This is what really set Ann’s heart aflutter.

After Trump lashed out at Gonzalo Curiel, the Indiana-born Mexican-American judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit, a profile in Washingtonian described her reaction . Attacking Mexicans was good racial politics, she explained. “Blacks hate Mexicans,” she said. “Mexicans move in and shoot black people, the jobs have been taken. Anything he says about Mexicans, his vote goes up with the brothers.” (During the campaign, she bet me $100 that Trump would get the highest percentage of the African-American vote of any GOP candidate since Nixon. He didn’t.)

But the point is that she has a conscience, and it would be deeply offended if it turned out that Trump had scammed her. This may strike some folks as cynical transactionalism, but Coulter is at least upfront about what she wants in return for her ardent puffery and her willingness to turn a blind eye to all of the lies, nepotism, and incompetence she admits she sees in Trump’s presidency.

Coulter is hardly the only conservative who has made tradeoffs with Trumpism. House Republicans turned themselves into human shields to protect Trump from investigations into his Russian ties; evangelical Christian leaders have given him a “mulligan,” over his alleged dalliance with and hush money payments to a porn star. As Trump stokes a trade war and uses his bully pulpit to vindictively attack American businesses, many “free-market conservatives” bite their tongues.

Presumably, many also have a red line of principle tucked away somewhere. But so far, it’s only Coulter who has been willing to break with Trump at full volume.

In Trump World today, this is what passes for conscience.

source-weekly std-ann coulter-=nyt-bruni, frank-curiel, gonzalo-judge-