Congressional Republicans (and Democrats) Blind on Tax Reform

First, eliminating the state and local tax (SALT) deduction makes sense because it encourages those governing entities to raise spending, knowing residents can deducts it at the federal level. So, curtailing amounts to a tax increase. The deal is to reduce the amount of SALT deductibility and also lower the income tax brackets for all income brackets including the highest one.

Second, politicians in both parties take the side of the employer/producer in this debate. The federal tax code includes a deduction for “educators”, meaning teachers. They are not the consumer or employee or individual.

Third, there is no assurance that a small business owner or anyone else who gets a tax reduction will hire employees. They may simply give themselves a pay raise.

A broad tax credit for citizens themselves so they can re-train, educate, or otherwise learn new skills are what is needed. Examples are someone who wants to learn how to braid hair, be an electrician, software programmer, or building engineer, learn the nuts-and-bolts of starting a business. There are hundreds of job classifications someone can sift through to find the niche that fits him or her.

Here.

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NFL Players’ Protests, cont’d

Next thought on this topic is this. If the players in the NFL and other pro sports are truly interested in police misconduct and helping their communities, they should consider getting more involved at the local level. Police are government agents and thus can overuse their power.

Find out which politicians in the executive and legislative branches have been in office that are directing the police to act a certain way. Rise above the partisanship that contaminates every social discussion. Ignore the obsolete left/right, Democrat/Republican debate. As I said, its obsolete. A new government program will not work.

Get involved in your communities. Start a program related to your sport with your friends or fellow players to get young people involved and out of mischief. Get them educated in academics or learning a trade.

The Democrats “A Better Deal”

Reading through their agenda, I conclude its the same old crap. More government control, rules, and bureaucracy. And, the results will be the very results they say they are trying to fix. For example, their first issue complains about special interests and so-called the rich getting the benefits of government largess. But, any legislation or regulatory change involves the input of special interests. In fact, Democrats welcome special interests to provide expertise in writing legislation. They are the experts and that’s why they’re involved. The Democrats invite the special interests that fit their agenda to help who then tilt the legislation to their benefit. The result is more bureaucracy and more complexity in the lives of the middle class they say they are trying to help. How much record-keeping do we already have for taxes, medical care, and on and on? Well, that is the result of the very government Democrats are pushing.

How about this:

Our plan for A Better Deal starts by creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs by directly investing in our crumbling infrastructure and prioritizing small business and entrepreneurs, instead of giving tax breaks to special interests.

How are they going to “creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs” Well, that crumbling infrastructure is located in states that have been run by Democrats, with an occasional Republican elected such as NY, NJ, CA, IL. The fiscal problem at the state level is that government employee pensions, public education, and Medicaid have consumed their budgets, leaving little budget dollars left for infrastructure. Having the federal government spend on infrastructure relieves the state governors, legislators, and judges of being responsible for the infrastructure in their states. No real reform here.

Next, “prioritizing small business and entrepreneurs, instead of giving tax breaks to special interests.” is funny because “small business” and “entrepreneurs”, from a political perspective, are special interests. “prioritizing” means giving special treatment to special interests. Democrats just hide it from the public by burdening firms with the rules then we get ticked off at the firms for acting the way they do.

Here’s another: “We will crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumers, workers, and small business”. The monopolies in the economy are the federal, state, and local governments. Further, firms cannot raise their prices. The prices of products and services that are rising faster then general inflation are those with heavy government involvement such as college tuition and public education.

Another problem with their approach is that all this activity interferes with the peaceful, voluntary actions of the American people interacting with each other and others across borders. That interference tilts the playing field because that is how the Democrats view everything. In Progressivism, someone must lose for someone else to win.

Next, their plan “provides new tax incentives to employers that invest in workforce training and education and make sure the rules of the economy support companies that focus on long-term growth, rather than short-term profits.” That means more paperwork, meetings, and time taken away from concentrating resources on doing the work for the customers of the firm. As well, firms have strategies for the short, medium, and long terms. They may not be completely filled out, but that is not possible because the future is unknown. The details get filled in as more information is available and more knowledge acquired. That’s why 10 or 20 years plans are nonsense.

The funny thing is, if a firm invests for the long-term, the results might pay off in government antitrust action against it, see Amazon.com. They invested for the long-term by keeping the retail prices low to build market share. But, Democrats want congressional hearings on its proposed acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. So the people at Amazon.com invested for the long-term and they get rewarded with congressional hearings. That makes no sense unless of course the hearings are for show and graft. Ahhh, graft. Squeeze a firm so its employees make financial contributions to the party.

And let’s not forget the mess the Democrats created in the health insurance market with Obamacare — monthly premiums higher, deductibles, higher, insurers leaving markets. So all in all, the Democrats are pulling the same stunts they always do.

Bashing Trade with Mexico

Mary Anastasia O’Grady in the WSJ on Trump’s bashing of trade with Mexico:

Exhibit A is his promise to shred the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) on the grounds that Mexico, his favorite bête noire, is stealing American jobs. It is technology, not free trade, that is behind the shrinking number of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Beating Nafta like a piñata worked in the Republican primary. But it is likely to hurt Mr. Trump and GOP candidates further down the ticket in the general election. Mexico is, after all, the U.S.’s third-largest trading partner and second-largest export market.

. . .

Indiana, the home of GOP vice-presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence, exported some $4.8 billion of goods to Mexico in 2015, making it the state’s second-largest export market.

. . .

Exports to Mexico were over $1 billion in 31 states in 2015. It’s the largest export market for California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It ranks second for 25 other states.

. . .

Trade wars will also damage U.S. competitiveness. As former Mexican deputy trade minister Luis de la Calle explained in a conference call to investors in New York earlier this month, Carrier Corp.’s production move to Mexico from Indiana—much-assailed by Mr. Trump—means that the company can survive Asian competition and can retain U.S. jobs in research, development, marketing and high-end components.

. . .

Mr. Irwin cites a study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, which “found that productivity growth accounted for more than 85 percent of the job loss in manufacturing between 2000 and 2010, a period when employment in that sector fell by 5.6 million.” This 85% compares, according to the study, with 13% of job losses attributed to trade during the same period.

. . .

It is “high-education” and “low-education” jobs—requiring “interpersonal interaction, flexibility, adaptability and problem solving”—that are most difficult to automate Mr. Autor notes. Traditional middle-education jobs have been the easiest to replace with technology.

Whoops, the unintended consequences. This same problem goes for Hillary Clinton and any other critic of trade.

I wondered what “competitiveness” meant. The above quote contains an example.

Not a neat situation that lends itself to a government program.

Behind firewall here.

Combine Deregulated Health Care and Education with Entrepreneurial Freedom for Growth

Here’s the entrepreneurial column.

While our two companies run very differently, we have come together to support what we believe is the only set of ideas that stand a chance of turning things around—ideas that can pass political muster in an otherwise very deeply divided Congress. These ideas center on reinvigorating what up to recently has been the most reliable source of job growth and innovation in our economy—the formation of new firms.

Right now, health care and grade-school education are so government-controlled they are wasting resources.

Warren Buffett’s Investment in Bank of America

Steve Goldstein is spot on:

The much-maligned government plan did stabilize the financial system, even if taxpayers are still on the hook for up to $130 billion in losses, but private-sector bailouts are better for the public at large.

It’s how it should be: if a private-sector bank is under capitalized, it should find a private investor to provide it with additional cushion, at a hefty price if necessary. And that’s what happened Thursday, just a day after Buffett dreamed up the idea in his bath tub, if CNBC’s account is correct.

Here. The investment adds to the firm’s capital.

O slashes red tape

That’s the headline of the New York Post headline. “slashes”? A bit overstated I’d say.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration revealed plans yesterday to cut or roll back hundreds of federal regulations, saying it hoped to save businesses $10 billion and spur job growth.

Here. $10 billion in a $14 trillion economy is 7 hundredths of 1 percent – .07. We need more, a lot more.