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Americans deserve a corruption rebate

Rick Newman
Senior Columnist

It’s the age of the consumer: Overnight delivery. Free shipping. And social media justice for any organization that disserves the customer.

It’s time for the U.S. government to make right with the taxpayers who fund it. Uncle Sam no longer serves the American taxpayer. It serves dictators on President Trump’s favorites list, along with Trump’s customers in the private sector and Trump’s own family members. Americans are no longer getting their money’s worth from the Trump administration. They deserve a corruption rebate. Hashtag #CorruptionRebate.

About 97 million households pay income tax in the United States. Let’s start the corruption rebate at $500 per household. That’s in the ballpark of the stimulus checks the last Republican president, George W. Bush, sent out in 2008. And it would require $48.5 billion in new funding.

Shouldn’t be a problem. Saudi Arabia is perhaps the top beneficiary of President Trump’s corruption, including his coddling of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sultan, execution-orderer of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump’s policy is to exit the Middle East and remove all U.S. troops from the region—except for Saudi Arabia, where he’s planning to send an additional 2,000 to guard oil facilities the Saudis apparently can’t guard themselves.

There should be two elements to the #SaudiCorruptionRebate. The first should go to U.S. service members being sent to Saudi Arabia as a Trump contribution to MBS’s Praetorian guard. They should be paid at the mercenary rate, not the soldier rate. Private security contractors earn $500 a day or more, which is a minimum of $182,500 per year. A mid-grade noncommissioned officer earns about $32,000 per year. Let’s round up by $500 and give every U.S. service member Trump is loaning to his pal MBS a $150,000 raise.

FILE- In this Saturday, May 20, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman during a bilateral meeting, in Riyadh. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and Saudi Arabia's newest heir to the throne Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS as he is known, have skyrocketed to power and been entrusted with a wealth of responsibilities and wide-ranging duties, even though neither had the experience or that comes with years of government service. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

For 2,000 U.S. troops, that would only cost $300 million per year. Piece of cake. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has assets of $320 billion, so the Saudis could pay their U.S. mercenaries with less than 1% of the annual return on their financial holdings. That wouldn’t even bite into principal.

Let’s say the Saudis paid half the standard #corruptionrebate for all the rest of us who pay U.S. taxes. That would be around $24 billion per year, less than 10% of the Saudi wealth fund. There’s another option, if the Saudis want to leave the fund intact: Give every U.S. taxpayer a stake in the upcoming IPO of the giant state-run oil company, Saudi Aramco, worth an estimated $2 trillion. The so-called kingdom could give every taxpaying American household shares worth $250 in the oil giant, totaling less than 2.5% of the company’s value. Seems like a pittance given that Saudi Arabia would be overrun by Iran without Americans to intervene.

The rest of the #corruptionrebate would come from Russia, Turkey, Syria, North Korea, Islamic State terrorists, oil drillers, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and any other third parties that benefit from Trump’s giveaway of American resources and prestige. Russian president Vladimir Putin should be good for at least $10 billion. Looting Russia has made Putin perhaps the world’s richest man, and $10 billion would probably be a bargain for control of the Middle East and other Trump gifts. That would leave just a billion or two required from others on the list. Again, that should be small change given, for instance, the money energy firms are making from drilling permits Trump has okayed on federal land.

At $500 per year, the #corruptionrebate might seem like mere beer money for the typical American family. But it would double every year. So it would go from $500 to $1,000 to $2,000, then $4,000, and so on. If the Saudis and the Russian oligarchs and Trump’s other dictator pals think that’s too expensive, they’re free to find another patsy. Or, America could clean up its act.