Halloween 2020 Dan Crawford | October 31, 2020 10:21 am Journalism Figures 1 & 2 Comments (7) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
Republicans, Not Biden, Are About to Raise Your Taxes
NY Times – Joseph Stiglitz – October 31
The Trump administration has a dirty little secret: It’s not just planning to increase taxes on most Americans. The increase has already been signed, sealed and delivered, buried in the pages of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
President Trump and his congressional allies hoodwinked us. The law they passed initially lowered taxes for most Americans, but it built in automatic, stepped tax increases every two years that begin in 2021 and that by 2027 would affect nearly everyone but people at the top of the economic hierarchy. All taxpayer income groups with incomes of $75,000 and under — that’s about 65 percent of taxpayers — will face a higher tax rate in 2027 than in 2019.
For most, in fact, it’s a delayed tax increase dressed up as a tax cut. How many times have you heard Trump and his allies mention that? They surmised — correctly, so far — that if they waited to add the tax increases until after the 2020 election, few of the people most affected were likely to remember who was responsible.
Looking at the analyses of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation at the time the December 2017 tax bill was enacted, we see very clearly how different income groups are affected by the Trump tax plan. And it’s disturbing.
The current poverty line for a family of four is $26,200: People with incomes between $10,000 and $30,000 — nearly one-quarter of Americans — are among those scheduled to pay a higher average tax rate in 2021 than in years before the tax “cut” was passed. The C.B.O. and Joint Committee estimated that those with an income of $20,000 to $30,000 would owe an extra $365 next year — these are people who are struggling just to pay rent and put food on the table.
Of course, the poor have never mattered much to the Republican Party, but those on the edge of poverty have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and the recession its caused, so Trump’s planned tax increases seem especially heartless, and impractical, when you consider that their higher tax payments, while a huge burden for them, will add little to the budget.
By 2027, when the law’s provisions are set to be fully enacted, with the stealth tax increases complete, the country will be neatly divided into two groups: Those making over $100,000 will on average get a tax cut. Those earning under $100,000 — an income bracket encompassing three-quarters of taxpayers — will not.
At the same time, Trump has given his peers, people with annual incomes in excess of $1 million dollars, or the top 0.3 percent in the country, a huge gift: The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the average tax rate in 2019 for this group to be 2.3 percentage points lower than before the tax cut, saving the average taxpayer in this group over $64,000 — more than the average American family makes in a year.
The tax loss and benefit estimates just described were calculated before the pandemic. Now, incomes for almost everyone but top earners have taken a hit, so the loser group will likely be considerably larger than anticipated; and with people like Jeff Bezos, the billionaire chief executive of Amazon, doing even better than expected, Trump’s gift to him is even bigger.
This analysis makes clear that the vast majority of Americans will be better off with the likely tax reforms that will emerge from a Biden administration than they would be by sticking with Mr. Trump’s ill-conceived tax bill. You might well ask: Why didn’t Mr. Trump just give everyone a tax cut? The Republicans — who suddenly lost their grasp on their self-described fiscal conservatism when they came into office in 2017 — saw a chance to give their rich friends and corporations a big thank you for campaign contributions. But the tax cuts they promised these donors produced projections that the resulting budget deficits were well beyond $1 trillion.
To reduce that stomach-churning amount, they had to phase-in higher taxes on ordinary Americans. While this kind of budget gimmickry has been used before under President George W. Bush’s administration, Mr. Trump carried it to a new level.
The Republicans have one more feeble defense: their old friend trickle-down economics. The tax cut to the corporations would, they promised, trickle-down to citizens at the bottom of the income ladder. We’ve now seen how that hasn’t happened. In fact the money gushed up to those at the very top in the form of stockholder dividends, chief executive bonuses and a record level of stock buybacks (nearly $1 trillion in 2018 alone.)
Some economic models predicted the Trump tax law would lead to significantly higher wages because of more investment and higher growth. But projections showed that when the 2017 bill’s temporary tax cuts changed to tax increases, growth would likely slow significantly and wage increases would be anemic. And those calculations were made before the pandemic hit.
Mark Zandi and Bernard Yaros of Moody’s Analytics have done the most credible and thorough analysis comparing the Biden and Trump plans, including Mr. Trump’s stealth increases and other promised tax and expenditure changes. Mr. Biden’s plan wins by an enormous margin: 7.4 million more jobs and a much quicker recovery from this recession. That means higher wages and incomes for most Americans.
Elections matter. Elections gave Republicans the power to enact these tax shenanigans. Neither conscience nor principles stopped them.
The problem now is that unless the Democrats win a majority in the House and the Senate and clinch the presidency, these Republican tax increases, already legislated, are likely to go into effect. The increases, unfairly aimed at the vast majority of Americans who are disproportionately suffering in the pandemic, will cause even more hardship.
They must be stopped.
Stanford study seeks to quantify infections stemming from Trump rallies
NY Times via @BostonGlobe – October 31
WASHINGTON — A group of Stanford University economists who created a statistical model estimate that there have been at least 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths as a result of 18 campaign rallies President Donald Trump held from June to September.
The numbers, which will surely reignite accusations from Democratic leaders and public health officials that the president is putting voters at risk for political gain, are not based on individual cases traced directly to particular campaign events.
Instead, the Stanford researchers, led by B. Douglas Bernheim, chair of the university’s economics department, conducted a regression analysis. They compared the 18 counties where Trump held rallies with as many as 200 counties with similar demographics and similar trajectories of confirmed COVID-19 cases before the rally date.
The events took place from June 20 to Sept. 12; only the first two — in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Phoenix — were held indoors. The president has held about three dozen additional rallies since the study ended in September.
Based on their models, the researchers concluded that on average, the 18 events produced increases in confirmed cases of more than 250 per 100,000 residents. Extrapolating that figure to the 18 rallies, they concluded that the gatherings ultimately resulted in more than 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and that the rallies had “likely led to more than 700 deaths,” though those deaths would not necessarily have occurred solely among attendees.
The paper, posted on academic websites and on Twitter by its authors days before the presidential election, is likely to be contentious. Public health officials in states and counties where Trump has held rallies said in interviews this week that it was impossible to tie particular infections or outbreaks to the gatherings for several reasons: Caseloads are rising overall, rally attendees often travel from other locations, contact tracing is not always complete, and contact tracers do not always know where infected people have been. …
THE EFFECTS OF LARGE
GROUP MEETINGS ON THE SPREAD OF
COVID-19: THE CASE OF TRUMP RALLIES
Election at Hand, Biden Leads Trump in Four Key States, Poll Shows
NY Times – November 1
Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a clear advantage over President Trump across four of the most important presidential swing states, a new poll shows, bolstered by the support of voters who did not participate in the 2016 election and who now appear to be turning out in large numbers to cast their ballots, mainly for the Democrat.
Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is ahead of Mr. Trump in the Northern battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as in the Sun Belt states of Florida and Arizona, according to a poll of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College. His strength is most pronounced in Wisconsin, where he has an outright majority of the vote and leads Mr. Trump by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent.
Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump in four key battleground states just days before the election.
Arizona +6 Biden 49-43
Florida +3 Biden 47-44
Pennsylvania +6 Biden 49-43
Wisconsin +11 Biden 52-41
Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters from Oct. 26 to Oct. 31.
Mr. Biden’s performance across the electoral map appears to put him in a stronger position heading into Election Day than any presidential candidate since at least 2008, when in the midst of a global economic crisis Barack Obama captured the White House with 365 Electoral College votes and Mr. Biden at his side. …
Is there a quiet majority of exhausted voters who are ready to boot Trump out?
via @BostonGlobe – October 31
… As Trump faces reelection in what has become a referendum on his presidency and personality, it is possible that this very contrast in volume and tone could decide the outcome. Trump warns that a vote for Biden is a vote for “boredom.” But Biden’s allies are explicitly pitching him to a weary public as a break from the constant, high-pitched soundtrack of the Trump years.
Biden, they vow, unlike Trump, doesn’t need your constant attention to lead. He will let you tune him out — at least from time to time.
“With Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day,” former president Barack Obama told voters in Philadelphia on Oct. 21. “You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting.”
Trump’s preternatural ability to command eyeballs and hijack news cycles propelled his unlikely rise to the White House and helped him maintain the passionate, red-hatted base that still dotes on him. It began on an inauguration day with his stark evocation of the “American carnage” of lawlessness and economic devastation he said he had been elected to end, and then it devolved swiftly into an argument over whether his crowd was larger than Obama’s had been in 2008.
Substance, then, was met almost instantly by distraction and a stream of tweets — a preview of what was to come, as he took on refugees, immigrants, longstanding foreign allies, and social justice protesters, to name a few in a very long line of targets.
This year, on the trail, he has frequently knocked Biden as timid by comparison, for “hiding” in his basement in Delaware because of the pandemic, and he told his rally crowds that their enthusiasm and numbers show he will defy the polls again on Tuesday and win a second term.
But Trump’s vice-like grip on the American consciousness has never translated to majority support. He won four years ago with just 46 percent of the popular vote and has never cracked 50 percent approval in polls since taking office. His ubiquity has also led to an exhaustion among a portion of the electorate, who are tired of his voice and tweets echoing constantly in their minds. They may not fly flags, or ride in a golf cart parade, or attend a rally, or even have a yard sign, but they are ready for a change — and they are voting.
“There is nothing I can say that is positive about this man,” said Tish Jepsen, a former Republican who was attempting to vote early for Biden in Reading, Pa., this past week. “Everything that spews out of his mouth is negative and he’s a terrible influence and a terrible example for so many people.”
For those voters who don’t like Trump, or simply long to turn the page, it’s been hard to escape him. …
“Mark Zandi and Bernard Yaros of Moody’s Analytics have done the most credible and thorough analysis comparing the Biden and Trump plans, including Mr. Trump’s stealth increases and other promised tax and expenditure changes.”
The Macroeconomic Consequences: Trump vs. Biden
‘Send Lawyers, Guns & Money,’ the splendidly unrepentant ode to rotten luck and worse behavior that closes out Warren Zevon’s 1978 ‘Excitable Boy’ LP. Inspired by Cold War paranoia, Zevon framed his protagonist’s charmingly sleazy behavior in an espionage setting. …
Trump admits plan to challenge election result as soon as polls close
Donald Trump has claimed he will use “lawyers” to challenge election results as soon as the polls close.
The president threatened to use litigation to secure a second term as he spoke to reporters before he attended a campaign rally …