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the economy

Another Tax Cut? Republicans Say Trump Can Simply Decree This One

Prompting a look at the debt bomb

The halls of Congress are buzzing about, and momentum is building for, yet another tax cut. Truly. Not kidding.

Last December, didn't Republicans just pass, and without a single Democratic vote, a tax reform bill that slashed the corporate income tax rate by 40%, gave profits brought home from abroad a deep discount to as little as 8%, and reduced taxes for every one of us in all brackets? A tax program that's expected to cost $1.5 trillion in lost revenue for the government over 10 years? Beginning in 2001,
Bush and Republicans in the 107th Congress had already passed two sweeping tax cut bills that — along with the Iraq War — turned a $300 billion budget surplus under Clinton into a $470 billion deficit by 2004. And now yet another tax cut? Have we decided to go for broke?

The plan is to index capital gains to inflation. Meaning? When you sell an asset — shares in a company, real estate — you are taxed on the difference between what you sold it for less what it cost. But if you've held the asset for any length of time, your profit will have been eroded by inflation. With inflation factored in, you might even have lost money. Yet you will be taxed on the full sell-less-cost differential as if inflation didn't exist.

So where's the fairness in the government taxing the nominal profit when in fact that's not its true worth? Governments have a hand in that inflation. They have…

healthcare

Administration Doing Its Damnedest to Destroy It, But Obamacare’s Tough to Bring Down

Two attempts by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) failed last year, but you wouldn't know that from Donald Trump.

"Essentially we are getting rid of Obamacare. Some people would say, essentially, we have gotten rid of it".

He is under the impression that the Trump administration's striving for effective repeal by other means is already a success. But the law has proven surprisingly resilient, especially when you consider that it is now being administered by a regime that wants it to fail.

On his first full day in office, Trump issued an executive order telling agencies to be lax on enforcing provisions of the ACA, to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay”. The broad hint was that the administration would not enforce penalties for individuals and companies who chose not to buy insurance for themselves and employees. That was only the beginning. The Trump administration embarked on multiple tactics to "sabotage" — as the media quickly labeled them — to bring

A Tom Price Tweet

"How badly is #Obamacare hurting Americans? 6.5 mil (more than live in #Utah & #Nevada combined) chose to pay IRS fine just to stay out of it"
That's Tom Price, then head of Health & Human Services, attacking the law his agency was supposed to promote.
down Obamacare as a major component of Trump's crusade to reverse everything Barack Obama had ever accomplished:

 To shrink enrollment, the Trump administration cut by 90% the spending on outreach campaigns that alert people to the annual open-enrollment period.
 The administration cut the enrollment period from 90 to 45 days — same objective.
 Under since-deposed Tom Price, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department produced 23 ads for YouTube about people who said they'd been "burdened by Obamacare", paid for, it is suspected, from the budget that was supposed to promote the Affordable Care Act.
 The department removed from its website useful guidance for consumers.

trade

Is There a Strategy Behind Trump’s Trade War?

You wouldn't know it from media coverage of Donald Trump vs. the World but the power to decide trade policy is vested solidly in Congress. Yet we witness the extraordinary spectacle of a this one individual seeing it fit to act entirely on his own, doing attended by only advisers hand-picked for agreeing or acquiescing, as he pleases with our country ripping up United States trade relations just about everywhere. Conservative columnist Bret Stephens says "the administration is blowing up the foundations of global economic order with the same mindless glee as a child popping bubble wrap".

Section 8 of Article I lists as one of the duties of Congress the power to "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations", but in 1962 John F. Kennedy signed the Trade Expansion Act which ceded control of tariffs to the president. It has
Nate Beeler, Columbus Dispatch.

been used sparingly when survival of an industry is threatened — Obama on tires, George W. Bush on selected steel products for almost two years. Authors of the law presumably would be astonished to see the wholesale use to which Trump is putting the Act. And there's no movement in Congress to take back its role.

The Act provides for invoking tariffs when…

"…an article is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair the national security."

That was Trump's claim when on March 6th he invoked the 25% tariff on… Read More »

elections

Gerrymandering Is Here to Stay, and the Left Is Locked Out

The Supreme Court last month showed its ongoing neglect of protecting the nation by once again ducking any ruling on electoral redistricting, generally called gerrymandering. Hopes had been high that our black-robed solons would finally finally confront what they have so many times avoided — this increasing threat to our democracy — but they wimped.

The justices resorted to an all-too-frequent dodge that the plaintiffs lack standing — voters in a voting rights case in their own state have no standing, we're told —
for not adequately proving that they had been directly harmed. They sent the case back to a Wisconsin court telling them to try again to prove that the state's Republican-controlled legislature had rigged the vote.

Plaintiffs were not harmed because they are in a heavily Democratic district, said the ruling. That the justices say that the Democratic majority in their district saved them from harm admits there is actual harmful rigging in other districts where Republicans hold sway, but it's the technicalities… Read More »

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