Nov 10 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: Trump and Ryan Versus the Little People

According to news reports, Donald Trump wanted the House Republican tax “reform” bill to be called the Cut Cut Cut Act. Alas, he didn’t get his wish, and it was instead given a boring name nobody can remember. But there’s still time to change it! So let me propose, as one reader suggested, that it be renamed the Leona Helmsley Act, after the New York hotelier convicted of tax evasion, who famously declared that “only the little people pay taxes.”

That, after all, is the main thrust of the bill. It hugely favors the wealthy over the middle class, which is pretty much always true of Republican proposals. But it’s not just about favoring high incomes: It also systematically favors people who live off their assets, especially inherited wealth, over the little people — that is, poor shlubs who actually have to work for a living.

To get an idea why, consider four hypothetical taxpayers and how they would fare under the G.O.P. bill.

Eugene Robinson: Hallelujah for a good old-fashioned butt-kicking

What happened at the polls Tuesday was a good old-fashioned butt-kicking that exposed the cynical fraud called Trumpism. Hallelujah, people, and let’s do it again next year.

Perhaps Republicans forgot that Hillary Clinton — rightly or wrongly, a candidate distrusted by much of the nation — won nearly 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. Or that bigger crowds came to Washington to protest Trump’s inauguration than to celebrate it. Or that voting trends in special elections since President Trump took office were against the GOP.

Maybe all of that slipped Democrats’ minds as well. Many expected Ralph Northam to squeeze out a victory over Ed Gillespie in the Virginia governor’s race, but I don’t know anyone who predicted Northam would win by nine points, the biggest margin in that contest in more than three decades. And no one imagined that Democrats would nearly erase the GOP’s 32-seat advantage in the Virginia House of Delegates, with recounts pending that could still put Republicans in the minority.

Catherine Rampell: Dear GOP: Stop investing in so much stuff

nvest more in people, not stuff.

That’s not a tip for achieving personal happiness. It’s a statement about economic growth.

Right now, much of the Republican tax agenda is geared toward incentivizing investments in physical capital. But that’s not where the country’s real deficit lies. What’s sorely lacking is human capital.

And if the Republican plan passes, that human capital deficit is likely to worsen.

Republicans in the House, Senate and White House argue that we need major corporate tax cuts to promote economic and employment growth. The mechanism goes something like this: If we lower taxes on returns to capital (i.e., corporate profits), then shareholders will make more capital available to businesses. With more capital available, businesses will be able to invest in more factories, robots, equipment, stores. And through that additional investment, more workers will get hired and wages will rise.

Huzzah, trickle-down at last!

Yeah. So here’s the thing. By many metrics, capital is already readily available.

Sheldon Whitehouse: The Paradise Papers are a wake-up call: now Congress must act on tax havens

Appleby Global Group Services Limited is a very old law firm with a very old mission – helping wealthy people and corporations avoid scrutiny. Beginning on Sunday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists began releasing findings from a trove of 13.4m documents from Appleby and its subsidiaries. The media has dubbed these the “Paradise Papers”, and they are deeply troubling.

To carry out its mission for its elite clients, Appleby plays a complicated shell game with carefully crafted tax havens. Here’s a simplified version of its playbook: find jurisdictions with low taxes and lax incorporation laws, set up anonymous shell corporations, and run money through untraceable bank accounts. Sounds dodgy, but it is completely legal.

When the client is a large multinational corporation, this can involve an international web of dummy corporations, taking intangible property – such as patents and trademarks – on an imaginary round the world trip to stay one step ahead of the IRS and other tax authorities.

Jessica Valenti: Louis CK, Roy Moore and a glimpse into how #MeToo might end

Since the #MeToo movement took off, with thousands of women sharing their stories and dozens of powerful men being outed as abusers and harassers, one thought has dominated my mind: how will this end? In the wake of numerous new allegations against powerful men in culture and politics, I think I have the answer.

All moments of feminist progress are followed by intense backlash, and this swell of accusations – and the seeming tipping point of the culture believing women – will be no different. Too many men are losing their jobs, too many reputations tarnished. A misogynist culture won’t allow a reckoning this successful to continue for long.

But #MeToo won’t be smacked down all at once, it will be a slow chipping away of our confidence in women’s stories and the belief that the behavior of abusers is really that bad.