Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Trump Now Has His Joseph Goebbels. As Nominee for Attorney General.

I do not believe that this man will be confirmed.  Even despite this.

Things of this sort can change, bigly, once confirmation hearings begin.  And not just because of his brazen, lifelong white supremacism.  Also because, well, among other things, Florida voters just adopted an amendment to the state constitution legalizing medical marijuana.  Buy a yuge margin.

Read through the NYT editorial I’ve linked to.  No one—and I do mean no onewants this kind of thing.  Outside of Alabama and Mississippi, of course.

This choice is beyond-belief vile.  And by the end of his confirmation hearing, everyone will know the specifics. And that Donald Trump thought it would be fine to reward this man in this precise way for being the first member of Congress to endorse him.

So Jeff Flake, Joe Manchin and Susan Collins think he’s fine.   Then again, presumably they don’t plan to run for president.  Marco Rubio likely does, though.  And his own state, the largest swing state, just voted to legalize medical marijuana. And there’s also that large-Hispanic-population thing in his state.  Just one example.

Here’s betting that McCain won’t vote for him either.  He doesn’t plan to run for president, having already been there and done that, but there’s that little thing about Sessions’ support for torture of various kinds, including waterboarding.

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UPDATED: Be sure to read this article published Friday at Yahoo News.  I didn’t see it until just now.

Updated 11/20 at 3:25 p.m.

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John McCain Says He’s Glad a 5-4 Supreme Court Majority Fabricated a Constitutional Ground to Strike Down Most of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law as Unconstitutional

Trump suggests to undocumented immigrants that they quickly pool their savings and use the funds to buy real estate in extremely leveraged deals* in order to avoid paying back taxes (or income taxes at all) once they become legal residents during a Trump administration. And Eric Trump agrees!

In what would be a stunning reversal on an issue central to his candidacy, Donald Trump floated a possible process to allow undocumented immigrants to remain in America in a town hall that aired Wednesday.

“No citizenship,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview taped Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas. “Let me go a step further — they’ll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes, there’s no amnesty, as such, there’s no amnesty, but we work with them.”

Trump said he was moved by concerns from fans who opposed his previous calls for a “deportation force” to remove all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

Donald Trump Openly Weighs a Massive Immigration Reversal, Benjy Sarlin, NBCNews.com, today [h/t Greg Sargent)

Meanwhile, son Eric helpfully instructed yesterday that tax returns don’t show anything instructive about such things as who, or what entities, actually are funding the purchases of this real estate, how many times refinancing has occurred and how it occurred, who or what entities own partnership interests (and what those interests are), and whether they are profitable and, if so, how much is paid in taxes on that income.  Politico’s Tyler Pager reported yesterday:

“There is no tax attorney in the world who will tell you to release your tax returns while you’re under a standard, routine audit,” Eric Trump said on CNBC. “It would never happen. Anybody who thinks that is in La-La Land. … It would be foolish to do.”

Eric Trump added that he is the biggest proponent of his father not releasing his tax returns.

“His tax return, did you see the Twitter picture, it’s 5 feet tall,” he said. “You would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions they know nothing about.”

Donald Trump’s tax returns have become a key campaign issue with Democrats hammering him for not disclosing them and saying the returns could reveal hidden business interests, particularly with Russia. Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, has publicly challenged Trump to release his tax returns, saying he will release his own if Trump does.

Still, Eric Trump maintained he does not think his father should release them.

“You learn a lot more when you look at somebody’s assets,” he said. “You know how many hotels we have around the world. You know how many golf courses we have around the world. You know every single building we have.”

“We have,” of course, appears to be loosely defined here.  But what we do know, courtesy of Eric’s brother Donald Jr., is that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” and that “[w]e see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”  Or at least this was so in 2008, when Donald Jr. disclosed this to his audience when speaking at a real estate conference.

No one need wonder who suggested that Trump hire Paul Manafort to run his campaign, decades after Manafort had stopped being a Republican Party operative.  But that’s in the past.

The future, by contrast, holds big things for undocumented immigrants. Multimillions of dollars in tax-free income.  At least if they become real estate developers.

Eric’s given away the secret that the Trump University professors withheld.  And he did it without even charging tuition.

There does remain that little question of how to go about having unpaid back taxes count for future real estate purchases under the tax code.  But if the newly-documented immigrants hire accountants and tax lawyers recommended by Trump’s accountants and tax lawyers, this shouldn’t prove difficult.

And for a partnership interest in the real estate, Trump surely will have his accountants and lawyers provide names.

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*ADDENDUM: About one of those extremely leveraged real estate deals:

“I don’t settle lawsuits — very rare — because once you settle lawsuits, everybody sues you,” he said recently.

But Mr. Trump made an exception when buyers of units in Trump SoHo, a 46­ story luxury condominium­hotel in Lower Manhattan, asserted that they had been defrauded by inflated claims made by Mr. Trump, his children and others of brisk sales in the struggling project. He and his co­defendants settled the case in November 2011, agreeing to refund 90 percent of $3.16 million in deposits, while admitting no wrongdoing.

The backdrop to that unusual denouement was a gathering legal storm that threatened to cast a harsh light on how he did business. Besides the fraud accusations, a separate lawsuit claimed that Trump SoHo was developed with the undisclosed involvement of convicted felons and financing from questionable sources in Russia and Kazakhstan.

And hovering over it all was a criminal investigation, previously unreported, by the Manhattan district attorney into whether the fraud alleged by the condo buyers broke any laws, according to documents and interviews with five people familiar with it. The buyers initially helped in the investigation, but as part of their lawsuit settlement, they had to notify prosecutors that they no longer wished to do so.

The criminal case was eventually closed. Mr. Trump’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination rests on the notion, relentlessly promoted by the candidate himself, that his record of business deals has prepared him better than his rivals for running the country. An examination of Trump SoHo provides a window into his handling of one such deal and finds that decisions on important matters like whom to become partners with and how to market the project led him into a thicket of litigation and controversy.

Trump SoHo is one of several instances in which Mr. Trump’s boastfulness — a hallmark of his career and his campaign — has been accused of crossing the line into fraud.

Donald Trump Settled a Real Estate Lawsuit, and a Criminal Case Was Closed, Mike McIntyre, New York Times, Apr. 5, 2016

For me this general election campaign has been an exercise in frustration and dismay at the failure of Clinton and her campaign to apprise the public of critically important things about Trump that they don’t already know.  Like Trump’s monetary motive for his coziness with Putin, and his methods of financing his real estate empire that included bank fraud and partnerships with corrupt foreigners.  Things that make the Clintons’ self-dealing and misrepresentations to the public look utterly inconsequential by comparison.

And like what billionaire is backing Trump financially and calling the campaign shots, and would be calling the shots in a Trump administration.  And what those shots would be.

Whatever favors Clinton did as Secretary of State for Clinton Foundation donors, they were trivial in that they had nothing to do with making or changing government policy, it appears.  And the Clintons’ rapacious money mongering didn’t defraud banks or individuals.  And while it served their personal financial interests well, their foundation did have the effect of actually doing some real good on fairly widespread scale.  The Clintons, in other words, aren’t sociopaths.  Trump is.

Finally—finally—now, Clinton is angry enough about Trump’s statements about Clinton Foundation/State Department connection that she’s willing to depart from her campaign’s strategy of telling the public what they already know about Trump, but nothing else, because informing voters about the stuff they don’t know would require a slightly complex discussion.  Telling people what they already know is quick and easy and soundbite-y.  So it’s what her highly paid consultants and top campaign staff advise.

But in a stark, sudden and surprising departure, Clinton is about to begin educating the public about something somewhat complex, something that requires that she tell them things about Trump that they don’t already know.  She’s about to explain the alt-right, apparently in some actual depth, and illustrate that Trump is the alt-right’s candidate because he himself is alt-right.

So is his billionaire.  The public has no idea he has one, much less what the billionaire’s specific agenda is.  And if Clinton finally is ready to tell the public that, yes, Trump has his very own billionaire supporting his campaign with many millions of dollars, she will get some help from John McCain, who obviously reads Angry Bear even if Clinton and her campaign folks don’t.  Although, of course, it’s more accurate to describe the relationship as one in which the billionaire has his very own presidential nominee.

Addendum added 8/25 at 4:07 p.m.

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Sigh.

McCain answered the question about the gun debate by citing Obama’s culpability for the attack through his foreign policy: “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures,” McCain said. …

When pressed by a reporter on the claim that Obama was “directly” responsible, McCain reiterated his point — that Obama should not have withdrawn combat troops from Iraq: “He pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be attacks on the United States of America,” he said. “It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.” …

While the gunman referenced the Islamic State multiple times on Sunday, investigators say they are still working to figure out precisely what motivated the gunman and determine how he spent the months leading up to the attack.

In this post yesterday, I used a lengthy excerpt from an article yesterday at the Washington Post by Mike DeBonis, reporting on that bizarre news conference that John McCain held yesterday.  At least I thought it was bizarre, and assumed that readers would by now know enough about the concept of “lone wolf” terrorist sympathizers encouraged via the Internet or even by television news reporting on military conflicts and radical groups—including those who, like Mateen, were born in this country and never traveled outside of it—and also would by yesterday afternoon know that Mateen apparently was gay yet also either was or pretended to be homophobic as a way to deflect suspicions by his father and other family members that he was gay.  (The above excerpt is taken from the DeBonis article, and was included in the lengthier excerpt in yesterday’s post.)*

Thus the title of my post, which was intended as a facetious takedown of McCain’s comments, especially because those comments made clear that McCain was conflating ISIS’s military victories in Iraq and elsewhere with the ability of terrorist groups of all stripes to use the Internet to encourage nutcases who have access to assault weapons to commit mass deadly assaults and those who just have access to non-military-type weapons to commit deadly assaults on one person at a time.

McCain’s claim that if Obama had kept troops in Iraq and prevented further ISIS victories in that country, Mateen would not have attacked a gay bar he had frequented and claimed his motive was defense of Islam struck me as so obviously absurd—and the point of my post and its title so obviously clear—that it needed no explanation beyond the sarcasm.

And judging from the comments in the post’s comments thread, most readers understood the post and its title.  But via email I’ve learned that the post’s purpose was not clear enough.  So this post should clear it up.

*Parenthetical added 6/18 at 10:32 a.m.

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ADDENDUM: This piece today by NYT columnist Timothy Egan is, I think, the best column of the entire campaign season.  It’s not mainly about Orlando, although it touches on it.  It’s about Trump, the media, and the Republican Party.

I don’t think any commentary by anyone going forward will surpass this. Don’t miss it.

Added 6/17 at 11:45 a.m.

PS: In a column that sent chills down my spine from beginning to end, these two sentences are the ones I want to highlight:

“Man up,” wrote the Republican strategist Rick Wilson. “Show courage. Say what’s in your hearts; he’s insane. He’s poison. He’s doomed. He’s killing the party.”

And:

In this week of trial and tragedy, Trump showed us how he would govern — by fear, by intimidation, by lies, by turning American against American, by exhibiting all the empathy of a sociopath.

Trump indeed is surely quite literally insane.  And a sociopath, which is what Trump University and his other business practices that the news media has reported on in depth in the last two weeks illustrate.  These truths should not be shied away from—as politically incorrect.

Added 6/17 at 12:04 p.m.

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John McCain says Obama invented the Internet. And homophobia, too. Seriously.

And also the concept of attempting to cover one’s own homosexual desires by attacking a gay bar.

Uh-oh.  Those Arizona Senate-race polls must be looking really bad for McCain.

Seriously.

____

Okay, the article I link to, by the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis, is titled “John McCain: Obama is ‘directly responsible’ for Orlando attack.”  And that, folks, apparently is actually what McCain said.  Here are highlights:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the elder Republican statesman, said President Obama was “directly responsible” for the terror attack in Orlando due to his failure to combat the rise of the Islamic State terror group. …

McCain made his remarks in a Senate hallway to a small group of reporters, responding to a question about the gun-control debate that has flared on Capitol Hill since the Sunday-morning shooting that left 49 clubgoers and the gunman dead. Obama on Thursday traveled to Orlando with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to pay his respects to victims’ families.

McCain answered the question about the gun debate by citing Obama’s culpability for the attack through his foreign policy: “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures,” McCain said. …

When pressed by a reporter on the claim that Obama was “directly” responsible, McCain reiterated his point — that Obama should not have withdrawn combat troops from Iraq: “He pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be attacks on the United States of America,” he said. “It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.” …

While the gunman referenced the Islamic State multiple times on Sunday, investigators say they are still working to figure out precisely what motivated the gunman and determine how he spent the months leading up to the attack.

Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old shooter, pledged loyalty to the leader of the Islamic State during a 911 call made while the hostage standoff at the club was ongoing. According to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Mateen also posted on Facebook the day of the shooting pledging allegiance to the group’s and claiming that the shooting was “vengeance” for airstrikes.

Officials have said that they have not found any signs that Mateen was directly tied to any kind of network, and the FBI said this week that it remains unclear which extremist group he supported. While he referenced the Islamic State multiple times on Sunday, Mateen has also made comments in recent years claiming that he had ties to ­al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, two opposing terrorist groups that have clashed repeatedly in Syria and that both predate the Obama administration. He has also referenced the brothers who carried out the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon.

Obama also is responsible for ­al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.  And for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria.  Not to mention the conflict in Chechnya, where the Boston Marathon bombers’ family is from.  (I should mention it, but I won’t. I don’t want to pile on.)

ISIS is not the only thing that’s going unchecked these days. Apparently.

Imaginations of longtime senators facing possible electoral defeat are, too.

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Ted Cruz says that if one of his daughters as a young adult joins the Navy and her boat strays into the territorial waters of an unfriendly country whose own Navy then holds the boat and crew, he would want the president to torpedo diplomatic discussions for their release by speaking belligerently about it on national television hours after the incident began.*

I can’t remember which network I watched the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, but one of the post-speech commentators was Hugh Hewitt, a winger talk radio host whom I had never heard of until he participated as a questioner in one of the earlier Republican debates this cycle. Hewitt began his commentary by saying that the speech seemed very off to him because, well, first and foremost, Obama had been silent about the 10 sailors being held by Iran on their boats in the Persian Gulf since that morning.  Hewitt was shocked.  And angry.

Which caused me to wonder whether it had occurred to him that, y’know, intense diplomatic discussion for the prompt release of the sailors might be underway.  Or whether it had occurred to him but that he thought the sailors’ quick release wasn’t as important as public, verbal belligerence toward an unfriendly country.

Not sure about that; I haven’t followed Hewitt’s post-release-of-the-sailors-the-next-morning comments on the matter.  And anyway, Hewitt isn’t running for president.  Or for anything, to my knowledge, other than a radio-ratings sweepstake victory.

Ted Cruz, of course, is running for president.  I watched the debate last night for about a half-minute.  Literally; about 30 seconds.  That was the half-minute or so after one of the hosts asked Cruz his first question, something about the economy, and Cruz was beginning his answer by saying that he would answer the question about the economy in a moment, but first wanted to express his outrage that Obama had not mentioned the sailors Iran was holding in Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf right during the very hour when Obama was addressing the country on the state of the union.  This was nearly 48 hours after the sailors had been released after being held on their own ships for about 24 hours.

I read recently that Cruz has expressed regret that he did not serve in the military. But the fact is that he did not serve in the military.  If he wins his party’s nomination and begins campaigning at VFW halls and events, Clinton or Sanders, the Dem nominee, should mention when campaigning at veterans events and meeting halls that Cruz thinks that the wellbeing of military personnel is trivial as compared with political opportunism.  As president, Cruz would rather score political points with tough-on-Communism-er-Mullahism bellicosity than secure the quick release of military personnel held then-only- briefly by an unfriendly nation whose territorial waters or land the military personnel had accidentally breached.

And that he’s now made clear that if an unfriendly country’s Naval vessel strays into U.S. territorial waters, he as president would shrug and politely allow them to go on their way.

In a race in which the top two Republican contenders are so very casual about the wellbeing of deployed members of the military—when Trump called John McCain a loser because he had been captured by the enemy in Vietnam when his plane was shot down, he insulted not only McCain but also (just as examples, from WWII) soldiers captured in the Philippines who died during the Bataan Death March and those who survived it, the paratroopers killed or taken prisoner after being dropped behind enemy lines in preparation for the D-Day invasion or the invasion of Leyte Island or Luzon Island or earlier at Guadalcanal, the Marines who died on Iwo Jima, those killed or captured during the Battle of the Bulge, the bomber and torpedo pilots killed or captured after taking off from one of the four aircraft carriers during the Battle of Midway, the many killed when their submarine or ship was torpedoed in the Pacific, those killed or captured as they stormed the beaches at Normandy, those killed in North Africa under Patton’s command, and so many, many more—this is a party whose base apparently does not actually care very much after all about the welfare of deployed military personnel.

The base’s standard bearers, in any event, have other priorities: their own political ambition. Deployed members of the military, current or former, are just like everyone and everything else. They’re fair game as collateral damage in the service of others’ political career advancement.

In the space of about 30 seconds last night, I’d seen more than enough.

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*Title edited for clarity. (Minor editing elsewhere, as well.) 1/15 at 7:53 p.m.

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Do Voters Who Want ‘Change’ Really Care More About the Age of the Candidate Than About the Age of the Candidate’s Ideas? REALLY?

The Marco Rubio debate moment that worries Democrats: When Marco Rubio cast the election as a ‘generational choice,’ he took a page out of the Obama playbook to portray himself as the candidate of future. It could work.

— Title and subtitle of an article in today’s Christian Science Monitor, by Linda Feldman (via Yahoo Politics)

Yup.  Voters are downright clamoring for a return to 1920s economic and social policies—which, point by point by point, actually is what he wants to do.

All those young voters who so enthusiastically supported Obama in 2008 are chomping at the bit, and the ones who have turned 18 since then are so gullible that they think a 44-year-old Ronald Reagan/George W. Bush on steroids is the real candidate of change because, well, y’know, he’s 44.*

So what the Democrats should do, I think, is nominate a 43-year-old Communist Workers Party candidate if one were to run.

I mean … whatever.

Maybe some major polling organization will test out this theory that the age of the candidate rather than the age of the candidate’s ideas is what matters to voters, by including a question about it in its next survey.  The margin of error would be 30 years—the difference in the ages of Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders.

Seriously, of all the asinine canards that political consultants and political journalists sell, this surely rates among the most transparently ridiculous. Although maybe it didn’t really matter after all that Obama ran in 2008 not merely as the youngest candidate but (except for John Edwards) the most progressive.  Or maybe people thought John McCain was the progressive.

Yeah.  That’s it.  People thought John McCain was the progressive.

And they think Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’ ideas are old hat.

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*Sentence typo-corrected 11/11 at 6:15 p.m.

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ADDENDUM: Don’t miss this terrific piece by Adele Stan on the American Prospect website.  (H/T Paul Waldman.)

Although she doesn’t mention Rubio’s age, so maybe it’s not such a terrific piece.  Doesn’t she know that Rubio is 44 years old?

Added 11/11 at 7:03 p.m.

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Apparently, Public Financing has been Very Good to John McCain

UPDATE II: An e-mail from Rick Davis clarifies the plans for the last moments of the campaign:

On Monday, we will have a 14 state rally with our candidates crisscrossing the country trying to turn out our voters and sway the final undecided voters. Governor Palin will hit Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and Alaska in the final day of campaigning, while Senator McCain will travel from Tampa, Florida, to Virginia, then Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada and finish the night in Prescott, Arizona. The enthusiasm and excitement we generate on Monday will be the electricity that powers our “Get Out the Vote” efforts on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Via Dr. Black, Oliver Willis notes that the McCain campaign deliberately decided to eschew GOTV efforts in favor of spending their monies on television advertising.

We all knew that John McCain doesn’t operate a computer, but he claims to watch football. Did not he—or anyone in or, especially, running his campaign—see the dot.com Super Bowl commercials, and wonder what happened to most of those companies?

Contrary to previously received e-mails—and much recent whining—John McCain is ready and able to spend:

McCain and the Republican Party expect to outspend his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, by $10 million in the closing days of the campaign, Davis said. [emphases mine]

and he will be traveling, though we’re not certain where:

Trailing in the polls, Sen. John McCain will travel to seven states in one day as his presidential campaign enters its final hours, the Republican nominee’s campaign manager announced Friday.

McCain will campaign in seven cities Monday, just one day before Election Day, Rick Davis told reporters in a conference call. The final list of cities has not been finalized, Davis said.

And the idea that they are in multiple states may or may not be CNN’s. Developing…

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Always Tax Cuts for the Rich?

by Tom Bozzo

The ‘McCain Resurgence Plan’ surges on (h/t Creative Destruction):

Current rules mandate that investors must begin to sell off their IRAs and 401Ks when they reach age 70 and one half years old. Those rules should be suspended to spare senior citizens from being forced to sell their stock just as the market is hurting the most. Under the emergency measure I propose, we will also cut the tax rate for withdrawals from tax-preferred retirement accounts to ten percent…

Fine, but this affects a small slice of the public and not necessarily those who are going to be hurt by the recession.

“Small slice of the public” may be an understatement for the retirement plan changes. Last time I checked, there was a 10 percent regular income tax bracket, and for 2008 a married couple has to have $16,050 in taxable income to clear it. The top of the 15% bracket is $65,100. So lower-income seniors get nothing except the right to defer tax-deferred plan withdrawals that they arguably cannot afford not to take, and most seniors get no more than 5 percent of their withdrawals. The main beneficiaries are owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts that are so large that they can replace an income in roughly the top 25% (or better).

McCain goes on

It is essential that we avoid an exodus of capital from the market. Senator Obama yesterday offered up a proposal that would have the effect of encouraging early withdrawal of funds from 401(k) accounts, by suspending penalties through 2009. This is an invitation to capital flight, and therefore to continued instability in the market, at a moment when exactly the opposite is needed. Any family that takes part in this will not see the benefits of the market recovery that smart policy can help bring about. In my administration, we will instead revive the market by attracting new investment. I will cut in half the capital gains tax on stocks purchased and held for more than a year — from a rate of 15 to 7.5 percent.

These provisions do not make exactly make Team McCain look in-touch.

First, people are raiding their 401(k)’s because defined contribution plan balances are often the only significant “savings” they have. “Joe Sixpack,” as a certain vice-presidential candidate likes to say, doesn’t have appreciable amounts of money in assets that are potentially subject to capital gains tax. (See, e.g., the Survey of Consumer Finances. In 2004, the median holdings for working families owning stocks and investment funds were $10,000 and $25,000, respectively. But only 15 percent of all families owned stocks directly and 40 percent owned mutual funds, so majorities had nada.) Eating one’s retirement capital is already a desperation measure, and Obama’s plan arguably relieves an injury following insults that are done deals. Plus, Obama would keep in place the loss-of-income-tax-deferral disincentive and limit penalty-free withdrawals, so we aren’t talking carte blanche here.

Meanwhile, there is a fairness issue here, in that the “rich” — i.e. those with substantial financial asset holdings outside of retirement accounts — can dump their assets at will and McCain will if anything make the terms of such transactions more favorable. It’s just us chumps with defined contribution plans who are tasked with riding out the crisis in McCain world.

Second, it’s not at all obvious what McCain could substantively mean by “capital flight.” This, I suppose, is part of what has Brad DeLong scratching his head. Asset sales have to have two parties — the upshot is that someone exchanges money for an asset. These transactions aren’t counted as savings in the NIPAs since all that happens is a change in ownership, and the macro statistics don’t care exactly who holds what. Capital can’t be “fleeing” the market since someone has to buy in to complete the transaction, and desperate 401(k) raiders likely are not trying to invest their proceeds in foreign assets. (That would be the rich dumping assets to stuff cash in tax havens.)

Third, if the stated policy aim is to keep people from selling assets, how on earth will reductions in taxes on asset sales — note that another part of the McCain plan is to increase capital losses that can be counted against income — do that? The naive incentives of the plan make it a bit easier to sell, unless McCain is offering something other than the long-term capital gains rate cut that he seems to be selling. Rich people who are sitting on long-term gains see their tax rate go, as Maynard of Creative Destruction puts it, from minuscule to infinitesimal. So maybe that gun is set to run out of ammo anyway. But when the case is made for capital gains tax cuts raising, or at least not losing, much revenue, the argument always seems to involve an element of capital gains realization timing: people time their asset sales to take advantage of the more favorable tax terms.

In any event, it is maybe not so surprising that a campaign of millionaires and lobbyists can’t put together a plan that isn’t a giveaway to themselves. So the clown show at a train wreck goes on…

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Mc Cain sinks the Dow!

by Divorced one like Bush

Concerned about the cause of the Dow? Not to fear. Many have been working on it such as Glenn Greenwald.The market does not like someone who is not like them so goes the Mc Cain clan. It is possible, but then Glenn asks for proof and finds an economist of his nature who has discovered it is all due to McCain! He has produced a chart proving it.

I’m convinced. But, I’m going to wait for Cactus’ review of this man’s work.

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