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◆ Republican Tax Plan: The Essential Features
The details still need to be worked out through negotiations.
It is a 9-page framework at this stage, more detailed than previous releases but still not a fleshed-out bill.
- Lower corporate tax rates: Nominal rates cut significantly–to 20%
- Whether actual rates for Company X or Company Y are lowered depend on whether previous deductions are eliminated.
- Fewer personal brackets
- Much bigger standard deduction for each individual or family
- Big benefit to lower-income earners
- Many fewer deductions
- Keeps big deductions for mortgages, charity, and medical
- Repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax,
- Initially meant for a few rich individuals but now affects millions of taxpayers
- Eliminates the Estate Tax (“death tax”)
- Repeals deduction for state and local taxes (very contentious)
- Keeps a special carve-out for hedge fund called “carried interest” (very contentious)
◆ The Essential Politics
First, the goal is growth, even if it raises projected budget deficits.
Second, everybody is making hypocritical arguments.
- The Democrats doubled the country’s debt over the Obama Administration. Now, they are complaining about deficits.
- The Republicans screamed about debt and deficits during the Obama Administration. Now, most of them say deficits are less important than growth
Third, the main political arguments are conventional and obvious for both sides.
- Democrats: “This will only help the rich” (redistribution argument)”
- Republicans: “Everybody wins when the economy grows faster” (growth argument)
The New York Times weights in reliably with this analysis headline: Trump Tax Plan Benefits Wealthy, Including Trump. Most analysts agree with this regressive-distribution effect, at least in the initial proposal.
◆ Big Court Threat to Public Employee Unions (USA Today)
The Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear a challenge to the so-called “fair share” fees public employee unions collect from non-members, posing a major threat to organized labor.
Unlike the past three times the court has considered similar cases, its five-member conservative majority appears poised to rule that workers opposed to union representation cannot be forced to pay for collective bargaining and other benefits. –USA Today
Comment: The Republicans really want to weaken the public unions, as Scott Walker’s campaign in Wisconsin showed.
The unions know it and uniformly support Democratic candidates.
The legal argument by conservative and moderate union members is that so much of what these unions do is inherently political that the members’ free-speech rights are trampled by forcing them to pay union dues as a compulsory aspect of working at, say, a public school or Department of Motor Vehicles.
My guess: Compulsory union fees will be ruled unconstitutional violations and national membership in public-employee unions will drop significantly, following the Wisconsin pattern.
The biggest impact will be on K-12 school policy in the states.
There will be a longer-term impact in other areas since weaker unions cannot stop the rise of autonomous busses or autonomous lawnmowers and floor cleaners, which will give cities and states more service for less money.
Stars now shying away from interviews after Jane Fonda mess
Megyn Kelly said on the first episode of her new NBC morning show, which aired Monday, that for years she’d “dreamed of hosting an uplifting show.”
But just three episodes in, her celebrity guests seem to find the show anything but uplifting. Kelly’s penchant for speaking her mind, regardless of how her words might be perceived, caused two of her celebrity guests to speak out against the host after their respective appearances.
The most recent was Jane Fonda, whom Kelly pressed to discuss her plastic surgery. –Washington Post
Comment: One problem is that Fox viewers think she “betrayed” her network and thus her “side.”
A second is that she was always better at hard-news interviews than soft-focus ones. But her new time slot is tailored for morning uplift, not hard news.
Third, some media critics have said that she is the kind of woman who appeals more to male viewers than female viewers. But the morning audience is heavily female.
NBC gave her bucket loads of cash and removed a steady program to give her a slot. They must be slashing their wrists.