More Friday Freakiness

Most bloggers recognize these compilations of thoughts for what they are – not enough subject for a post, but something to touch on. In this spirit, a few thoughts for the week.

I want to commend the White House for having a briefing for all 100 Senators over the troubling issue of North Korea. This is a sobering topic and it deserves sober review. I would encourage more of the same on topics of national security.

With that said, I am hopeful that cooler and more knowledgeable heads will be advising the President and he will heed their advice. We do not need the President doing what he is prone to do which is running off at the mouth and letting his ego make decisions.

One of several examples of this is the White House staff being careful not to endorse the recent Turkey election results which gave more power to President Erdogan. The election results have been called into question and are being reviewed by a third party, who Erdogan is making fun of. Of course, our President did not get the memo and fired off congratulations to Erdogan for gaining even more power.

The devil is in the details, but the President has outlined his Tax Reform plan. Several things need to be highlighted therein, especially after hearing Mnuchin and Mulvaney talk about it. Several nonpartisan tax measurement groups have noted the tax cuts will raise the debt from $2 to $6 trillion over the next ten years, a 10% to 30% increase. The M boys – Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Budget Director Mulvaney – have said the common refrain that the “tax cuts will pay for themselves through growth.” While tax cuts have some economic effect, the data from these nonpartisan tax measurement groups said they have historically fallen well short of paying for themselves.

Then, we must look at who benefits. While everyone seems to benefit, the folks who make the most benefit the most. In addition to the individual tax rate cut proposed, the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax rate are eliminated, both which help the wealthy. Adding to this the reduction in corporate tax rate, which has a few interesting twists, plus repealing the ACA additional tax on higher paid people, the folks who “have” will have more which will increase the income disparity.

On top of this, Mnuchin said the President has no intention of releasing his tax returns. Mulvaney said people do not care. So, I guess the more than 2/3 of Americans who said they want to see the tax returns do not matter. For those keeping score, this becomes an official broken campaign promise and to me is firm indication our President has something to hide.

I wish I could talk about other things, but this man dominates the news which is the way he wants it.

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25 thoughts on “More Friday Freakiness

  1. A child screams from frustration right outside my door, so it’s hard to focus at this moment… actually hearing hiim makes me laugh, as he is very vocal when he doesn’t get his way…

    An entire novel could be written with that theme… the many tangents a life can take when a child learns that temper is effective in getting instant results… some learn to be bullies.. some are put in their place and learn to respect others. some, hmmmm, become iron-fisted leaders….

    but then what if one doesn’t learn to assert his/her voice? then we become passive and cannot find that voice to stand up to the bullies!

    and to think that your post prompted these ramblings of mine!
    time to go distract the child, which i can do by chattering in really fast english, which diffuses him instantly!

      • Lisa, our President acts like a toddler much too often. You know, Xi Jingping schooled him about Korea/ China, so maybe the foreign accent works. Glad to hear the real toddler is calmed. Keith

      • “Maybe the foreign accent works.” – that made me laugh.

        yes, the little boy is so funny.. his older brother is a perfect/precocious lad… and the little one ‘wakes up on the wrong side of the bed every day of his life.. but when he’s happy, he’s a complete joy!

      • That’s funny! They rode with their uncle and me 40 kilometers up the coast to Pedernales.. Young one called me, ‘Senora,’ and it is always said with respect… Older brother – Jesus, pronounced, hey-sus, calls me Lisa…. Thanks for the curiosity! Jesus, btw, is sometimes featured in the posts – he is always helping… he helped me when I picked up three big bottles of water for the cabana kitchen — and I tipped him by making an ice-cream stop on the way back!

  2. Dear Keith,
    The former Goldman Sachs’ stars who put together this outline of DDT’S tax cuts’ proposal do not represent the best of their alma mater. Incidentally, they do represent the swamp well, the wealthy, special interests etc. Still, DDT’s hardcore followers are still loyal.Unbelievable!
    Ciao, Gronda

    • Gronda, two sets of comments. On the tax side, the increase in the standard deduction does little for the low end, as they were not paying taxes anyway, accept for the FICA tax. Yet, the removal of the estate tax which already had a high threshold, the removal of the additional ACA tax on high income and wealthy taxpayers, and the removal of the AMT, benefits solely wealthy and high end people. Then you would see an exploited loophole of lawyers and doctors calling themselves LLCs to get the lower 15% tax rate for small business.

      On the fan base side, I see folks articulate how the President is doing in a very positive way. One person cited the reaction of the media and pundits as evidence of his doing the desired “upset the apple cart” job. What they fail to realize is the level of truth within the criticism, the decisions the President has made and the lying and cover-up. This man has done an incredible job of convincing his fan base to not listen to the media. They see this as a not giving him a fair shake.

      This man may have done two sets of impeachable offenses and yet they think he is being treated unfairly. This man wiped out a planned lower mortgage premium that would have helped over 1 million homeowners in his first two hours of his presidency. This man wants to defund an Appalachian career redevelopment program that benefits a significant number of coal miners. And, he has just proposed tax reform that benefits fat cats.

      I am ventinig this morning, as I see people not paying attention to what this man is doing and is falling for his tweets about how great a job he is doing. Keith

      • Dear Keith,

        I believe that we are living in the land of two worlds, DDT’s supporters and non DDT supporters. It’s like the Tale of Two Cities.

        One side chooses to live in a world of alt-facts but those on this side are convinced that they are the ones dealing with reality.

        The DDT non supporters feel like they are swimming against the tide of all the alt-facts out there.

        This is so frustrating.

        Ciao, Gronda

      • Gronda, at the heart of the Alt Facts issue, sits its narcissistic guru, our President. When you read a list of narcissistic traits, one that strikes me is the narcissist is like Teflon, turning criticism back on the accuser. So, it is Obama’s fault Trump did not vet Michael Flynn. It is Clinton’s fault for making up the birther issue, it is the activist Judge’s fault for saying two executive orders are unconstitutional, it is the media’s fault for pointing out his lying, and so on. It amazes me that people don’t see through his schtick. Keith

      • Dear Keith,

        There are those of us who legitimately care about those workers who voted for President Obama 2x in the past but this time took a chance on DDT. But why can’t they see the obvious, that he is not acting in their best interests?

        He is mostly catering to the alt-right population and those who are in bed with the fossil fuel industry.

        As you mentioned he “wiped out a planned lower mortgage premium that would have helped over 1 million homeowners in his first two hours of his presidency. This man wants to defund an Appalachian career redevelopment program that benefits a significant number of coal miners. And, he has just proposed tax reform that benefits fat cats.

        That doesn’t include turning back the rule where financial planners have to act in the best interests of their clients when it comes to their retirement investments; or his current backing of the republican’s health care bill and his proposed tax cuts which is weighted to heavily favor the wealthy.

        Ciao, Gronda

      • Gronda, excellent point. The desire to unwind the fiduciary move basically is a “finger to small investors.” The larger investors are going to use advisors who are fiduciaries. Yet, there are too many people who are selling investment products and churning investments for transactional fees. What many people do not realize is a “buy and hold” strategy is a wise course for many, but it makes less money for brokers. And, that is the heart of the matter and who will benefit from what Trump proposes. You could also throw in his and Republican disdain for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is a huge success protecting defrauded and aggressively marketed to consumers. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: Mark Shields on PBS Newshour noted this one page tax plan will go nowhere. Plus, it is indication that Trump has turned his back on his followers. He and David Brooks noted that Mnuchin could not even define the impact of the proposal on someone making $70,000. This plan is for the wealthy. Brooks commented on Trump’s inability to govern as he is a “man with words.” And because he is so fickle, the last person to talk with him wins the policy of the day.

  4. Interesting as always Keith.
    I used to work in the UK’s equivalent of the IRS; it’s now HMRC, it was HMIT…anyway.
    There is this fallacy that low taxation is good taxation. This does not bear examination.
    Those with the most benefit the ,most and will spend upon themselves. Those with the least will benefit the least and not having the disposable capital will spend less. Then add to this the fact that those with the least or those with less outnumber those with the most then the larger proportion of the population spends less. Also lower taxation means nothing to a person whose income is so low that they do not pay tax. (Unless we refer to indirect taxation, which is always grossly unfair as the sum levied is the same irrespective of a person’s income)
    Where the system works best, is paradoxically when the tax system is complicated, with benefits and deductions which are geared more to individual circumstances than sweeping generalisation of populations; so that the person with their own small business or the employee can gain a personalised benefit which relates in some way to them (Eg: disabled relatives; necessary isolated location of work; saving for the future through insurance schemes etc).
    Where high taxation is bad, is where a government allows institutional waste; including in itself careless when dealing with private contractors; where a government fails to allow its taxation arm to have the weapons and resources to pursue tax avoidance or where it is seen to be spending on its own ‘comfort’ rather than public projects, including infrastructure. (EG- ‘well we know that the Houses pf Parliament/Congress needs a new coat of paint and the carpets are getting frayed, but we’re putting the money into a small public project in……you’ll have to accept that).
    It is also essential that the staff of the taxation arm are indoctrinated and trained with the twin ideals:
    A) They are public servants and one important aspect of their job is to SERVE the public.
    B) Their duty is to ensure the firm but fair and efficient collection of taxes.
    Also they will have to accept that an office can be efficient and still look shabby, it’s good PR.
    I rest my case and step off of my soap box.
    All the best
    Roger

    • Roger, I appreciate greatly your perspective and experience. To your point, one of the most successful periods in the US was under Eisenhower and we were greatly taxed. Also, what I find interesting is under the same number of White Houses, double the number of jobs have been created under Democratic ones than under GOP ones, plus the economy and stock market do better. To me a key reason is Keynesiab economics – government investing in the country. The trickle down approach with fewer taxes does not bear fruit. Great comment, Keith

      • Thank you Keith
        Yes I tend towards the Keynesian model.
        Nations are far too complex to be left either to market forces or complete state planning.
        (It’s the People Factor, it cannot be evaluated by the simpler forms of mathematics or wishful thinking-‘we’ don’t work that way- thankfully)

      • Quite true. What many of our conservatives here don’t realize is we are not a purely capitalistic model, as we have a few socialistic underpinnings such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance. Even bankruptcy is not a capitalistic idea, which our President has availed himself.

      • Roger, what few realize is our President would not be where he is today without the socialistic bankruptcy laws. Keith

    • Lisa, thanks for your wonderful and many comments this morning. His followers have a tribal mentality which has become the nature of political parties and groups. I do take some comfort that two moderate conservative pundits have been hyper-critical of him from the get go (Brooks and Gerson) and now two more conservative pundits (Will and Krauthammer) are writing critically of his shortcomings and their concerns over national security. We now need a few more powerful Republican voices in Congress to join with Senators McCain and Graham over their concerns calling him on the carpet. Keith

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