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Massive Upper-Class Tax Cuts Are Paul Ryan’s Plan

[ 147 ] April 27, 2017 |

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This framing is a classic example of journalist who don’t get Paul Ryan:

Donald Trump is set to steamroll Paul Ryan on tax reform, the issue the speaker has devoted his political career to achieving.

But don’t expect Ryan to relinquish his pet cause easily.

The White House on Wednesday will drop the outlines of a tax plan that insiders expect will contradict the blueprint Ryan has been working on for more than a year. It won’t include the House speaker’s controversial new tax on imports, which was expected to bring in $1 trillion to finance lower tax rates. And top Trump officials are insisting their tax plan need not be paid for, rejecting Ryan’s stance that any package should not add to the deficit.

The administration’s sudden change of course came as a surprise to the speaker’s office, which didn’t get a heads-up before Trump announced on the fly last week that he would drop a tax plan Wednesday. Ryan had been working with the administration on a tax proposal “hand in glove,” as he put it, and the administration seemed content to let him take the lead.

This alleged conflict between Trump’s “tax cuts” and Ryan’s “tax reform” is completely illusory. Ryan’s objective is to pass the biggest tax cut for rich people that he can. The “tax reform” angle is useful for Ryan in the abstract because “yoooge tax cuts for the rich” aren’t politically popular, and because revenue-neutral tax reform could be “permanent” rather than having to sunset in ten years. But Ryan’s plan, which also required ACA repeal, was actually rather dumb politics because doing “tax reform” means unpopular tax increases and spending cuts as well as upper-class tax cuts, and had little chance of passing anyway.

The inevitable end game, therefore, was exactly what Trump is proposing: another Bushesque round of debt-financed upper-class tax cuts. It will probably pass in some form, although I doubt the elimination of most deductions will fly, and this will suit Ryan just fine.

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  • Hells Littlest Angel

    I’m sure Trump can make his tax plan just as revenue neutral as Ryan’s is. He just needs someone to show him how to make an asterisk.

    • weirdnoise

      Alas, we’re the asterisk.

    • N__B

      Ryan’s plan uses magic asterisks
      Whose math leaves Krugman well pissed
      The fans of the plan
      Are not “common man”
      But the rich, whose asses are kissed

      • Adrian Myers

        That’s quality. Nice work handling “asterisks” not once but twice.

        • q-tip

          The scan is all wrong, though. I’d put “asterisks” in the 3-4 lines:

          Paul RYan is CHANGing our TAX, with
          ac-COUNTing that’s terribly LAX
          His SAD asterISKS
          Get Paul Krugman PISSED
          And the TAX LOAD ends UP on our BACKS

          • q-tip

            Paul Krugman says, “This goes too far!
            This tax plan just lowers the bar!
            These SAD asterisks
            Mean details get missed,
            And something something something ARRRR.”

  • aab84

    I agree it’ll pass, but I’m genuinely shocked at how eager Republicans are right now to give Democrats easy issues for the midterms. Even for a Republican tax plan, the Trump “plan” (which isn’t even a plan, but rather a 1 page list of vague talking points in random fonts) is incredibly easy to run against. It’s a roughly 6 trillion dollar deficit increase designed pretty much exclusively to cut rates on CEOs, hedge fund managers, and the Trump family.

    Combine that with Zombie Trumpcare, which isn’t going to poll any better than old Trumpcare, and won’t pass the Senate in anything close to its current form, and Republicans are going out of their way to piss off voters before what will already be a tough midterm. It’s like they’ve walking into a gale-force wind and have decided that the best solution is to throw buckets of raw sewage out in front of their faces.

    Many of the things Trump ran on are genuinely popular. It’s amazing that they’ve decided to keep only the unpopular promises while jettisoning everything popular in favor of things voters hate.

    • Asteroid_Strike_Brexit

      Many of the things Trump ran on are genuinely popular. It’s amazing that they’ve decided to keep only the unpopular promises while jettisoning everything popular in favor of things voters hate.

      It's almost as if Trump is a conman or something. Who could have foreseen this?

      • Cheap Wino

        You’re giving Trump too much credit. As we know, always assume stupid and lazy behind anything that comes out of this administration. Stupid and lazy better fits the one page tax plan that is the equivalent of what an enterprising 11-year-old Fox News watcher would provide for his 5th grade social studies class project produced.

        • N__B

          Credit where credit is due: the text wasn’t triple spaced and the borders were normal-sized. So not quite like what a lazy 11-year-old would produce.

        • Morbo

          Don’t forget cruel!

          • efgoldman

            Don’t forget cruel!

            Feature not bug

      • Pat

        Real estate developer….

      • Domino

        His daughter also announcing that she’s setting up what is apparently indistinguishable from the Clinton Foundation, while still being a paid staffer who advises the president, and is, you know, his daughter, while also have brothers who are running the family business and trying to profit as much as possible from having daddy in the White House, should also be noted.

        EDIT: Reading that back I don’t mean to slander the Clinton Foundation, just using the example as a potential conflict of interest. Because we have no idea what this alleged foundation for girls will be structured as, who will run it, and how much money will be going through it.

        • rhino

          IOKIYAR.

          Remember?

        • nemdam

          Yeah, this is worse than the Clinton Foundation. It’s the worst version of the Clinton Foundation that only exists in the fevered imagination of the right wing and the media.

          Hillary never solicited Clinton Foundation money while Secretary of State. And the Clintons actually use their money for charity, not personal enrichment. We all agree that Ivanka will use this money to enrich the family and help anyone, right? And the fund will have no transparency in stark contrast to the Clinton Foundation.

    • Many of the things Trump ran on are genuinely popular.

      They are genuinely popular to the large portion of his base that are pretty much ok with whatever he does as long as it makes America white again.

      • nemdam

        Yeah, I was going to say what did he propose that is genuinely popular other than bigotry and Hillary hate? He vowed to protect Social Security and Medicare, but he’s shown openness to cutting both. Free trade is more popular than ever. Bigotry is the only thing he is left with that is popular, and it’s only popular with his base.

    • twbb

      “I agree it’ll pass, but I’m genuinely shocked at how eager Republicans are right now to give Democrats easy issues for the midterms.”

      Democrats have historically been terrible at using tax cuts for the rich against the GOP. They took the “temporarily embarassed millionaires” thing a little TOO close to heart.

      • PunditusMaximus

        Something something don’t want to piss off the donors something something

      • StillWithHer

        Part of why anyone alive for the last couple of years should react cynically to the onrushing Dem posturing about tax burdens on the “middle class.”

        • PunditusMaximus

          wait that still exists

    • Marlowe

      Many of the things Trump ran on are genuinely popular. It’s amazing that they’ve decided to keep only the unpopular promises while jettisoning everything popular in favor of things voters hate.

      Au contraire. Racism (see especially Jefferson Beauregard Sessions) and xenophobia (see John “critics should shut up” Kelly and his ICE Gestapo) are incredibly popular. Well, with Der Drumpfenfuhrer’s voters. And these evil motherfuckers are keeping those promises. In spades.

    • CP

      “I agree it’ll pass, but I’m genuinely shocked at how eager Republicans are right now to give Democrats easy issues for the midterms.”

      I think they’re terrified that this level of control of government will never repeat itself and so want to pass everything they can ASAP.

      • efgoldman

        I think they’re terrified that this level of control of government will never repeat itself and so want to pass everything they can ASAP.

        Even for some of the mouth breather base? Their prime directive is re-election. Sure, in some districts it doesn’t matter, but in others (particularly the ones HRC won) it will.

    • gmack

      A quick set of notes whilst I’m taking a break from grading:

      (1) Something will pass, and this something will include tax cuts for wealthy people.
      (2) But Trump’s “plan” isn’t really a plan. There is nothing there yet. As this article points out, this new set of talking points is actually less specific than the campaign, which takes some doing. Like the whole health care debacle, the administration is showing that it has no understanding or interest in actual policy details. This makes the whole “negotiation” thing pretty much impossible.
      (3) Given (2) my guess is that there will be a whole bunch of embarrassing retreats on the administration’s part; there will be no “overhaul” of the tax code. What we’ll get (if anything) will be some tax cuts that will sunset in 10 years, a la the Bush cuts.

      • Mellano

        Yeah, that one-pager is the kind of garbage you give to a clueless boss who makes impossible demands. And then they get it, and brag about it to their bosses, and everyone forgets about it until three months later when nothing has been accomplished, and the whole process repeats itself.

        Trump will bluster and boast and take some photo ops in a hard hat, he’ll get mad at Ryan and the Democrats arbitrarily, it will be impossible to pin his administration down to anything, and eventually whatever scotch-taped, Chamber of Commerce- and Club For Growth-approved package comes out of Congress, if any, he’ll sign and take credit for.

      • Tzimiskes

        There is a part of me that would like to see the Trump plan pass exactly as written just to see what the IRS and other impacted agencies would do with something like this in rule making. It would be a fascinating, though sick, twisted, and cruel, anthropological experiment in how bureaucratic cultures react to stressful situations.

        • gmack

          Right, that points to the key problem. As the article I linked to points out, even various conservative think tank sorts aren’t even calculating the effects of the proposal, because the plan lacks sufficient detail to generate such a calculation. And the administration is also deflecting any efforts to spell out details.

          It seems clear to me, then, that this administration has wholly conflated governance with PR. The only concern seems to be with how this or that issue is going to play on cable news.

          • efgoldman

            this administration has wholly conflated governance with PR.

            They can’t find governance even if you handed them a dictionary and spotted them the first five letters

      • efgoldman

        Like the whole health care debacle, the administration is showing that it has no understanding or interest in actual policy details.

        And more to the point, no understanding or interest in how legislation is written and processed.
        Since the modern party of no has forgotten to do that as well, I expect a lot of pointing and laughing from Democrats and the peanut gallery.

  • sibusisodan

    Ryan had been working with the administration on a tax proposal “hand in glove”

    The hand in question is Dr Stangelove’s.

  • WinningerR

    The reporter’s real mistake is taking Trump’s “plan” seriously. The “plans,” “demands,” and “ideas” coming from the White House these days are obviously farted out just to grab a couple of headlines and generate another round of pieces (like the one quoted) that continue to sustain the unconvincing illusion that Trump is any sort of President. This kind of bullshitting, of course, is all he really knows how to do.

    Congress finally understands this and they’re starting to just ignore him. Ryan and McConnell aren’t going to make the slightest effort to bend their plans toward Trump’s half-assed bullet points. If some of their own ideas happen to line up with Trump, that’s great, but they don’t really care. They know he’s going to sign whatever they manage to ram through and then take “credit” for it in a future round of bullshit.

    • Derelict

      I’m having a hard time distinguishing what Trump wants from what Republicans have been pushing for over the last 20 years. Indeed, I don’t see any daylight between Trump’s proposal and the substance of Dubya’s grand tax cuts. The only differences are in the sizes of the proposed cuts (Dubya, for example, scaled the Estate Tax way back in a series of steps; Trump just dumps it entirely).

      • Marlowe

        On basic policy you’re right–not much difference at all. The main difference, as in Der Drumpfenfuhrer’s undisguised racism and xenophobia, is that all the pretenses have been dropped. DD’s bar napkin (I’ve seen that description in several places this morning and love it) tax “plan” would probably have little trouble being enacted by the Rethuglican Congress on ideological grounds. But because of DD’s stunning lack of even a shred of self-awareness, his “plan” is an almost comically naked giveaway not just to plutocrats in general, but to plutocrats named Drumpf. There’s barely a nod (the increased standard deduction, I suppose) to any tax cuts not aimed at the wealthy. I have no doubt that the Rethugs will pass some kind of massive upper class tax cut, but the politics of the DD “plan” are just too horrible for it to pass except in a very altered form.

      • lunaticllama

        Bush’s taxes cuts did actually reduce the tax burden on middle-class families to a degree (far less than how much was directed to the rich.) Trump’s plan seems not to try to do that at all. In fact, they can’t even guarantee that it won’t raise the average American’s taxes.

        Making local and state taxes non-deductible raises every’s taxes in high-tax states such as CA, MA, NJ, and NY. I don’t see how even Republican representatives in the House can vote for that. High-income professionals in those states, many of which are Republicans, take full-advantage of that deduction and they know that it saves them thousands, if not tens of thousands, in taxes each year. This is a key constituency for the Republican party in those states and they help to keep electing Republicans in suburban/rural districts and provide some campaign donations. Trump’s team seems to be carelessly going after their own.

        • PunditusMaximus

          Was there seriously a “middle class” family that got actual money, instead of a dinner out, out of W’s tax plans?

          • janitor_of_lunacy

            We (combined income low six figures) got about $300.

            • PunditusMaximus

              Low six figures in 2003 is not middle class, except in NYC or SF. It’s upper-middle, which is, of course, fine, and good for you.

          • lunaticllama

            LOL. The 2001 Bush tax cuts lowered every single taxpayers’ marginal tax rate. It was an across-the-board tax cut with every marginal rate lowered. A family claiming $50K of taxable income had a marginal rate lowered from 28% to 25%. I know math is not your strong suit, but that is a reduction of ~$1500 in federal income tax. Maybe that isn’t “actual money” to you, but it is to many people.

            Trump’s plan does not even purport do any of this. It’s all for the very rich and somehow manages not to even be good for many high-income people. In terms of messaging and practical politics, that is a huge difference. You might be better at advocating for your agenda (whatever that is) if you had a better command of policy.

            For the record, if I was our benevolent dictator, I would repeal all of the Bush tax cuts.

        • Marlowe

          I agree. The general Rethug base may hate NY, NJ (I’ve lived my entire life in those two states), and California, but thos states all (unfortunately) have plenty of Rethug representatives, virtually none of whom are going to vote to eliminate the local tax deduction. Which should mean a quite solid majority against it.

          • Rob in CT

            CT qualifies too (and MA, and RI, and VT I assume), and we have no R reps at the national level.

            Save us, NY/NJ/CA!

      • WinningerR

        Trump wants two things: 1) Personal enrichment, and 2) Praise/good press. That’s genuinely all. He clearly doesn’t care about *anything* else, including any of the Republicans’ traditional ideological bugaboos (except to the extent that executive orders rolling back environmental regulations or stripping away LGBTQ protections or something might earn him some of that sweet, sweet #2 from Hannity, or Drudge, or Fox and Friends).

        Fortunately for him, #1 overlaps pretty well with the Republicans’ animating principle of tax cuts for the very wealthy.

    • efgoldman

      The administration’s sudden change of course came as a surprise to the speaker’s office

      I expect it was a surprise to anybody and everybody in the White House, too. No, not sarcasm.

      Some form of this bullshit will pass the house, but I doubt it can be passed by reconciliation in the senate, which means a filibuster; I don’t believe Yertle McTurtle will nuke the legislative filibuster over a turd in the punchbowl like this.

      • CP

        I expect it was a surprise to anybody and everybody in the White House, too. No, not sarcasm.

        Government by tweet. His underlings in every field will do everything they can to work for him… and then they’ll wake up and find that all the policies they thought they’d been given are now changed by a 3 AM tweet.

    • DrDick

      At this point, I can only assume that this is willful ignorance (or cataclysmic brain damage) by the press, since it has been blatantly obvious for decades that massive upward redistribution of wealth has been the core Republican policy.

      • brewmn

        Baby steps. On NPR yesterday, they actually managed to note several times that tax cuts have never paid for themselves nor do they automatically lead to economic growth.

      • efgoldman

        this is willful ignorance (or cataclysmic brain damage) by the press

        Could be both/and

        • DrDick

          True.

        • LosGatosCA

          That’s the least of it. Evil, predatory, psychotic, mentally diminished, demonic possession are just a few of the reasonable explanations in addition to willful ignorance, incompetence, and a unique variation of CTE undoubtedly caused by the early childhood trauma of his teachers trying to teach him to think critically and learn things other than bullying.

          I’d say Trump opens up entirely new malignant dimensions to the term intersectionality.

  • MartinAlexander

    I believe I read yesterday that there are no plans for Trump himself to go out on camera to sell his tax plan…now I wonder why that is…

  • rea

    According to Mnunchkin, or whatever his name is, the Trump plan is revenue neutral, because tax cuts will grow the economy, thus increasing tax revenues!

    • Yes, because it worked so well for Kansas!

      • twbb

        When you don’t have an organized opposition with a modicum of message discipline, then the bad guys can spin even their worse failures. See, e.g., Kansas’ last gubernatorial election.

        • Domino

          Uh, that election was more about Republicans continuing to vote for Brownback despite the lack of any evidence the tax cuts were a success. He has an R after his name, so he’s good enough.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Brownback is enormously unpopular and lost like 20 points between elections, and his faction lost control of the legislature. That people keep using him of an example of how Republicans can never become unpopular is bizarre.

            • PunditusMaximus

              He got reelected easily, and his party still has majorities in both Houses. His successor will belong to his party.

              Lord save the Dems from such “unpopularity”.

              • efgoldman

                He got reelected easily

                Browndback received less than 50% of the 41% who showed up at the polls. In pretty much the most Republican non-traitor state. Hardly “easily.”

                • PunditusMaximus

                  I’m happy to revise to “comfortably”.

                  May the Democrats endure such “unpopularity” forever.

      • Marlowe

        But Kansas in leading the way! Forget the various funding crises, Kansas’ elimination of taxes on pass-through income has set tax scammers free! of course, Rethuglicans want to make this Freedom! (TM) available to tax scammers nationally.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      There’s something wrong with the Trump admin, with “Mnunchkins” and “Evil Leprechauns” running amok.

      Could someone please dump a bucket of water on Trump, and see if he melts?

      • Hob

        I’m gonna be the no-fun guy here and suggest that “ha ha that person’s last name is so weird, that’s not a normal name” is not a good kind of joke.

        Mnuchin is one variant of a pretty old Ashkenazi Jewish surname. Other people with basically the same name include the journalist Seth Mnookin and the theater director Ariane Mnouchkine.

    • DrDick

      Talk about you magic asterisks!

    • Joe_JP
    • efgoldman

      According to Mnunchkin, or whatever his name is, the Trump plan is revenue neutral, because tax cuts will grow the economy

      Munchkin is the treasury secretary, right? And he came from Wall Street? And he’s got a degree from Yale, and one assumes he graduated from high school somewhere.
      But he doesn’t understand basic arithmetic?
      I know that RWNJ math is 2+2 might equal 3 or 5 or some random number, but holy shit, I saw a clip yesterday of this klown saying that exact thing.

    • I think Krugman pointed out that not even conservative economists actually believe this. The think tanks that exist pretty much to give glowing scores to GOP tax plans estimate something like 1/6th of the lost revenue would be made up by growth. These economists will suddenly change their mind and believe in the dynamic scoring fairy when they’re working for a GOP administration.

      IIRC he showed that Greg Mankiw held orthodox positions for a conservative economist both before and after working for the Bush admin, but while working for the Bush admin his stances on major issues (I think deficit spending) were substantially different.

  • cleek

    Hand in glove
    The sun shines out of our behinds
    No, it’s not like any other love
    This one is different-because it’s us

    • N__B

      Hand in glove
      The sun shines out of our behinds

      Somewhere, a proctologist weeps.

      • DrDick

        At least he now knows where he put that light!

      • Dennis Orphen

        Flow My Leakage the Proctologost Said

        • N__B

          I Have No Anus and I Must Shart

          • Dennis Orphen

            All ringpiece, no kex.

  • Julia Grey

    So they’re going to eliminate the medical expense deduction, too?

    What?

    • Thom

      Never piss off AARP ought to be the first rule of tax proposals.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      I hear that they’re going to eliminate the tax credit for bulk purchases of guns and ammo.

      Someone alert the NRA.

    • Denverite

      Depends what you mean. If you’re talking HSA expenditures for people with HDHPs, they won’t eliminate those as deductions, because those have been GOP shibboleth for years.

      If you mean just plain ol’ medical expenses, those will be cut as deductions, but since they’re limited to amounts in excess of 10% of gross income, that doesn’t affect a lot of people. It’s a hard-to-hit sweet spot where you make enough money to have a meaningful marginal tax rate, yet you still have medical expenses that exceed 10% of that high(ish) income.

      • Thom

        It is still (before Trump plan) 7.5% of AGI for those over 65.

        • Denverite

          Point still stands for those people. It’s hard (but not impossible) to imagine a scenario where you make enough to have a marginal tax rate where deducting medical expenses is a big deal, but at the same time, have medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of that high(ish) income.

          We did it one year when we had a HDHP with a mid-year renewal date and a high risk pregnancy and we hit our max out-of-pocket limit for both fiscal years in a single calendar year, but it usually takes a perfect storm like that.

          • Mellano

            So do more people use the medical expense deduction or pay estate taxes?

            I look at that line on Schedule A every year. And even though we aren’t usually close, it seems a lot more foreseeable that we’ll be really grateful to take that one day than that we’ll ever need to set up any trusts or something

            • Denverite

              If you mean use it in *any* fashion, then probably the medical expense deduction. I bet there are a lot of people making (say) $40k with HDHP policies that have something bad happen and end up paying $5k or whatever the deductible is. But in that scenario, only $1k in medical costs are deductible, so you save $250. It’s not nothing, but it’s not a ton, either.

              If you mean “use the medical expense deduction to save thousands of dollars,” you really do need a perfect storm like what happened to us where you (1) are out tens of thousands of dollars of unreimbursed medical expenses in a calendar year, and (2) can actually afford to pay those medical costs. I’d imagine that it’s probably pretty comparable to estates that get hit with the estate tax.

              • Mellano

                So the best I can find from quick Googling is a Forbes article in 2011, which cites an IRS report discussing returns from 1990-2001, when expenses only had to exceed 7.5% of AGI. (will try to put links in another comment)

                The report shows the number of returns taking the medical expense deduction rising from about 5 million in 1990 to 7.5 million in 2001. Forbes pegs it as 6% of taxpayers taking the medical expenses deduction in 2001. Back of the envelope, looks like the average return deducted around $5,000 in expenses. Not a ton of money, but not nothing, either. And a lot more returns than the number of people who are affected by the estate tax. Currently, anyway.

                (caveat that health care and insurance markets have obviously changed a lot since 2001, and the AGI limit has apparently increased for taxpayers younger than 64).

                In any event, my glib point was to say that if Republicans can throw tantrums over a tax which will obviously not affect most of their voters, then Trump and Ryan eliminating another highly visible tax break is absolutely fair game.

      • PunditusMaximus

        I’ve done it.

  • Gregor Sansa

    True, there is no substantive difference between Trump’s and Ryan’s goals. But both of them have at most a toe or two in the world of substance. In the maya of media masquerade, the division between the Trump plan and the Ryan plan is important, and there’s nothing wrong with pointing and laughing at that.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    maybe if Perez gets tired of the “don’t give a shit” line he can just use that photo as background at his appearances

  • kped

    Actually, there might be a split here. I read something yesterday from Ryan’s senior tax counsel, and he was scathing in his talk about Trumps plan.

    Here is a data point for folks. A corporate rate cut that is sunset after three years will increase the deficit in the second decade. We know this. Not 10 years. Three years. You could not do a straight-up, unoffset, three-year corporate rate cut in reconciliation. The rules prohibit it. You might be able to do two years. A two-year corporate rate cut—I’ll defer to the economists on the panel—would have virtually no economic effect. It would not alter business decisions. It would not cause anyone to build a factory. It would not stop any inversions or acquisitions of U.S. companies by foreign companies. It would just be dropping cash out of helicopters onto corporate headquarters.

    (i didn’t even include the part where he said this would be dead in the water day 1, and that it was a magical pony, not a tax plan. This, from Paul “Magic Asterisk” Ryan’s top tax counsel!)

    • DrDick

      Massive props to Team Trump for out bullshitting Paul Ryan on taxes. I did not think that was even possible.

      • Domino

        At this point we should assume it’s impossible to out BS Trump on anything.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Trumps base does the heavy lifting on his BS, as they absolutely ache to be conned.

          • DrDick

            Masochism is a hell of a drug.

            • Dennis Orphen

              Pain is a part of life. Some say it’s the best part of life. We call those people masochists.

  • Shantanu Saha

    This framing is a classic example of journalist who don’t get Paul Ryan:

    So, basically everyone who writes for the national press except Krugman.

    • kped

      haha, it’s amazing how Krugman has been right on him for nearly a decade now, and it hasn’t penetrated the bubble everyone else in the mainstream media is in concerning Ryan. “flim flam man, con artist, snake oil salesman”. Krugman has been scathing, but 100% correct from day 1.

      • Pat

        Isn’t it funny how Democrats don’t seem to be able to push the echo button the way Republicans can? I wonder why that is.

        • LosGatosCA

          You’re not the only one.

      • sibusisodan

        There is a social cost to being unpopularly correct. That much I get.

        The part that baffles me is why that cost is so high in the case of Paul Ryan. It’s a real ‘…but for Wales?’ issue.

        • PunditusMaximus

          Meh. Same cost comes from being clear-eyed about St. Obama here. Now imagine your job depends on it.

          • sibusisodan

            All you need to do now is provide the same level of detail and argument as Krugman does and you’ll be correct!

            • PunditusMaximus

              It’s funny because like all capitalists, you want me to work for free for your amusement!

              Dude, I did not invent the idea that Obama’s heart belongs to the kleptocracy. The idea that it needs to be “supported” as versus “linked to” (which I’m happy to do, but you can Google all by yourself too) is part of the memeset.

              • Rob in CT

                You can post here as much as anyone, but you can’t be bothered to back up your arguments.

                Link away.

                Obama is indeed a center-left institutionalist and not a fire-breathing lefty. That’s indisputably true. He got some things right and some things wrong, and where he erred he typically erred on the side of too much “caution” or “seriousity” if you will. He was never going to burn it all down and play with the ashes. And by the way, I seriously question how many internet lefties would have, had they actually been in the Oval Office in January of 2009.

                Also, a point that I made in a now-dead thread so I’ll repeat it here: Krugman himself railed against various things Obama did in real time. Yet people here still like Krugman. Huh. How can this BE? Well, because Krugman: 1) supports his arguments pretty well; and 2) is clear on who the real enemy is.

                Krugman – and many here, myself included – went through periods of being really upset with Obama.

                But on balance, he was a good President – far superior to his predecessor and his successor. People can argue over him v. Bill Clinton (I think Clinton got pretty lucky with the economy in the 90s, frankly, so I’d go advantage Obama). So I don’t spend my time ripping him. Nobody thinks he’s a saint – which oh by the way reminds me oh so fondly of Conservatives railing about liberals mindlessly following “THE ONE” – it’s the same bullshit strawman.

              • sibusisodan

                I thought we were having a conversation.

                Is this work, for you? Should you be admitting that?

                • PunditusMaximus

                  Moving from making specific claims (“There were policy options other than utter capulating fealty to kleptocrats during the financial crisis”) to a weekly column in a major metropolitan newspaper is the move from conversation to work.

                  That said, here’s a decent omnibus. Not all claims are endorsed, since this human isn’t me, and also this leaves out a lot of Education stuff (as well as the heavy metals poisoning crisis embodied in Flint):

                  Obama the conservative.

                • sibusisodan

                  Moving from making specific claims to providing reasons why other people should also adopt those claims is a normal part of conversation.

                  That’s a very interesting site. The sections on rendition, war and whistleblowing are thought provoking.

                  The sections on healthcare and climate show a lack of considered reasoning, awareness of US political structure and, on occasion, cite sources which do not back up the claims made…

                • PunditusMaximus

                  But those weren’t the options presented. The options presented were “weekly column in the NYT” and “if you don’t do this for free to convince me personally, you’re not serious”.

                  And they wonder why folks have a combative attitude.

  • DamnYankees

    I honestly have a hard time understand this sort of attitude (from the author, not you).

    The is completely, 100% in line with what the GOP is. They want to cut taxes for rich people and don’t care about blowing up the deficit to do it.

    The GOP has literally been doing this for almost 40 years. How gullible and/or stupid do you need to be to work in politics or journalism for a living and act like this is surprising?

    • sibusisodan

      Daft question of the day: why don’t they legislate to remove the Byrd rule? Obviously the legislative filibuster stands in the way. But what else? Public opinion?

      • DamnYankees

        I think a lot of Senators like the Byrd Rule, because it takes pressure off of them. Right now people like Collins or Flake don’t actually have to make decisive decisions on legislation. They can just put the choice on the Dems, who are happy to resist.

        • humanoid.panda

          The Byrd Rule also gives them a chance to thumb their nose at the House, something no good Senator will ever give up in (one of the reasons why Cruz is so hated in the Senate is because he tends to get involved with the plebs of the House..).

          • sibusisodan

            Fair points, both. Thanks!

    • Shantanu Saha

      It seems to be a requirement for entry into the profession.

    • PunditusMaximus

      In their defense, there are a lot of people on this blog who think Obama was trying to handle the banking crisis in good faith, rather than protect the oligarchy.

      Some concepts are just not available if you want to participate in “polite” conversation. “Both sides do it” is one of them.

      • econoclast

        I too expect people to agree with me on everything, with no effort on my part required.

        • PunditusMaximus

          I don’t! I expect them to respond with rage and dishonesty when I question their heroes. It’s a long game.

          • sibusisodan

            Are you about to start dumping on Admiral Nelson, then?

            I hope your arguments are better.

            • This is Ollie’s (or is it Andy?) second direct admission so far that he’s trolling, I notice.

              • PunditusMaximus

                Where “trolling” is defined as “holding to a position after getting mocked for holding it”?

                • sibusisodan

                  No, ‘questioning their heroes’ is the trolling part.

                  It’s an admission that you regard yourself already knowing what we think and are just going for a reaction. Functionally, thats hard to distinguish from trolling.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  Oh yeah, this blog and community are totes respectful of the idea that Obama or HRC can be criticized on ideological grounds in good faith.

                  It’s fascinating to me which people get surprised by which other people step out of line.

                • sibusisodan

                  Oh yeah, this blog and community are totes respectful of the idea that Obama or HRC can be criticized on ideological grounds in good faith.

                  By non-arseholes, absolutely.

                  But you gotta bring your A-game. Your best arguments. Do your homework. You’ll get eaten alive otherwise.

                  Around half of the commenters voted Bernie in the primary. More than half of the front-pagers, I think. You’d better believe that leading Democrats are getting heat. Speeches, drones, race, deportation, foreign policy…

                  But there is little room for poor argument or unverified assertion. You gotta make your case.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  You gotta make your case.

                  My case is that the only way to continue the absurd belief that Obama should be considered to be a Progressive by default when examining his decisions is bad faith, period.

                  Everyone acting like I’m the first person to have ever even brought up the idea of bankster prosecutions just . . . isn’t honest.

                  There’s asking for support and there’s JAQing off. The orthodoxy that the economy is actually awesome right now and that Obama deserves none of the blame for his rightwing economic policy creating bad results isn’t coming from good faith. It’s coming from an emotional attachment to an idea of Obama that doesn’t correspond to his decisions and actions.

      • sibusisodan

        there are a lot of people on this blog who think Obama was trying to handle the banking crisis in good faith, rather than protect the oligarchy.

        All the people on this blog who believe the former would reject the latter framing entirely. That’s part of the logic of too big to fail: there is no way to handle the banking crisis without protecting the oligarchy at some level.

        Obama is an incrementalist who works from within the system to change it. This should be a very bland point to make.

        It should be utterly anodyne both that change was gradual, working within existing institutions and that it was real and effective.

        • PunditusMaximus

          Obama’s big change to the banking industry was to institute a precedent of total impunity for massive fraud, combined with a guarantee that if the system implodes again, the Goverment will simply bail everyone out.

          I mean, yeah, it’s a change. And I suppose it’s within the system. But it’s not incrementalist, not precisely.

          • Rob in CT

            Because it was Obama who asked for, pushed for, passed and signed TARP?

          • sibusisodan

            Well, yeah. What are the consequences if the govt doesn’t bail everyone out?

            It’s like you’re skipping over the too big to fail part.

            And no one has been granted immunity. There have been very few prosecutions, true, but this is not the same.

            Your position appears to be that you’d be satisfied if Jamie Dimon was in jail. When that would change no consequences of the crash.

            Saving GM and getting Dodd Frank done were more consequential in that regard.

            We can walk and chew gum, of course. I’ve seen one or two sketches of the charges which could potentially have been levelled. There appear to be problems with actually pinning illegal things on senior managers.

            Not impossible, but rather tricky. You appear to regard it as a slam dunk.

            Since you haven’t ever outlined why you think this, it’s difficult to evaluate.

            • PunditusMaximus

              If you do the bailout and no one goes to jail, that is impunity.

              If you do the bailout and people go to jail, that is not impunity.

              I don’t understand why this set of ideas is so utterly incomprehensible that it literally cannot be processed on its own terms.

              Since you haven’t ever outlined why you think this,

              No, I have outlined why. Repeatedly. It’s just so doubleplus unpossible that everyone keeps forgetting.

              We had an S&L Crisis. It was in the 90s. It was handled very differently. Sweden had a bank crisis. It was in the 90s. It was handled very differently.

              • Rob in CT

                While I don’t really disagree (that far more accountability was called for), regarding the S&L crisis: didn’t that unfold over the course of a decade? And wasn’t it much less catastrophic in scope?

                The financial panic of 2009 was both far larger & compressed. Everything went straight to hell over the course of a few months.

                I don’t know enough about the Swedish crisis in the 90s to comment on that one.

                • davidsmcwilliams

                  Obviously we should’ve prosecuted the bankers under Swedish law.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  didn’t that unfold over the course of a decade? And wasn’t it much less catastrophic in scope?

                  I don’t understand the objection, in the context of prosecutions. We had years afterwards.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  Obviously we should’ve prosecuted the bankers under Swedish law.

                  MERS.

                • Rob in CT

                  I was thinking more of the “holy shit we have to prop this up right now because if we don’t everything comes crashing down” thing, which was the rationale for the bailout (which, as noted, pre-dated Obama taking office but needed Dem votes to pass) as opposed to other options.

                  I do not and have never disagreed that we should’ve gotten more investigation of the fraud & other abuse that enabled the whole shitshow, leading to more prosecutions.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  The Swedish crisis in the 90s included a bailout, so if there is someone you’re arguing with on that meme, it’s not me.

              • sibusisodan

                I concede the point on impunity. That’s my misread.

                No, I have outlined why. Repeatedly.

                Other financial crises were followed by punishment therefore this one should have been is suggestive, but is not terribly responsive.

                There are differences between S&L and GFC in both scope, duration and prima facie criminality. I would expect those to lead to differences in outcome.

                The simplest first step is to outline the illegal actions which were prosecutable. Robosigning looms large here.

                My overall take on the GFC was as a failure of regulation. The majority of the issues were probably not illegal, but that’s because the rules were terrible and the regulators weren’t regulating.

                I think that’s more correct than not. A regulatory rather than criminal response thus makes appropriate sense.

                (this elides entirely that the financial sector should in large part be salted with fire for their drug-money laundering, LIBOR fixing, regulator-suborning ways, and that they are getting off far too lightly for comfort…but that’s a broader topic)

                • PunditusMaximus

                  MERS is the prima facie case, and it is utterly horrifying that it was covered up.

                  Add “liar’s loans” to that, and you’ve got work going. Then start finding out how the banks did their redlining to force people of color into subprime products…

                  But sure, Swedish law.

            • liberal

              What are the consequences if the govt doesn’t bail everyone out?

              Dean Baker has pointed out repeatedly that the government could have let GS etc fail, yet at the same time ensuring the financial sector didn’t collapse by issuing backstops.

              In fact, the Fed did issue two important backstops: (1) money markets (which might have experienced a run, because the Reserve Fund decided to let its NAV float), (2) commercial paper.

              • sibusisodan

                Perhaps I’m sloppy in my terminology, but I’m viewing much of PMs distaste for the governance response as being due to the immunity from moral hazard.

                From that viewpoint, direct govt intervention and systemic indirect govt intervention (backstops) both lead to that immunity.

                Point taken about what Baker’s saying. Although, from memory, the govt letting Lehman Bros fail was a massive shock to the system.

                • efgoldman

                  I’m viewing much of PMs distaste for the governance response as being due to the immunity from moral hazard.

                  Nope. It’s due to his berniebotness. He believes in his saint breaking up the banks, even though said saint admitted out loud that he doesn’t have the first fucking idea how to do it.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  Jail solves that problem just fine.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  And, as efgoldman points out, it’s doubleplus badthink to question St. Obama’s response.

                  TBTF is another way to say either “Fascism” or “Socialism.” It certainly isn’t “Capitalism”; failure of private enterprises is inherent to that system. I don’t think the oligarchy supporters realize exactly how radical their beliefs are.

                  The question of how to address the existential threat of TBTF banks to the capitalist system is extremely complicated, so I’ve stuck to the basics (S&L crisis, mass impunity) for now. Long term, yeah, a massive and highly technical discussion of how to keep private actors from being able to Dune-style destroy our economy at whim needs to be sorted out.

                • sibusisodan

                  And, as efgoldman points out, it’s doubleplus badthink to question St. Obama’s response.

                  You are a tiresome little scamp.

                  TBTF is another way to say either “Fascism” or “Socialism.” It certainly isn’t “Capitalism”;

                  That’s too cute by half, and less illuminating.

                  The question of how to address the existential threat of TBTF banks to the capitalist system is extremely complicated, so I’ve stuck to the basics (S&L crisis, mass impunity) for now

                  I remember using that line. Often in essays where I was rapidly approaching my frontier of knowledge…

                • PunditusMaximus

                  Breakups of TBTF banks do not have historical precedent. We are at the edge of current human frontiers of economic knowledge, and it would be sensible to proceed carefully after having tamped down other issues.

  • D.N. Nation

    Ryan had been working with the administration on a tax proposal “hand in glove,” as he put it

    Bend over, America!

  • humanoid.panda

    To give just a tiny bit of credit to Ryan, this is not 100% true.

    This alleged conflict between Trump’s “tax cuts” and Ryan’s “tax reform” is completely illusory. Ryan’s objective is to pass the biggest tax cut for rich people that he can

    His goal is to give the largest possible tax cut for the rich AND move taxation from income/capital gains to consumption. Now, he will obviously give up the latter to secure the former, but I think if he had his way, or a president who understands what he has doing, he would have switched slightly smaller tax cuts for a permanent shift of taxation from income to consumption- because that puts the onus of the federal state on the moochers who use it..

    • PunditusMaximus

      Like most Randroids, Ryan’s a pretty serious Marxist.

  • John F

    Speaking of millionaires… we need an NFL Draft thread to speculate on how badly the Browns are gonna screw up.

    • D.N. Nation

      I saw Trubisky in person for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff last season. He did not noticeably outplay Georgia’s QB rotation, which consisted of a bad upperclassman and an 18-year-old.

      What the Browns should do is draft Myles Garrett with their first pick, then Deshaun Watson when he’s still somehow on the board when their second pick comes around. They will not do this.

  • Dennis Orphen

    Present corporate profit tax rate: 35%.

    Proposed corporate profit tax rate: 15%.

    (feel free to correct any errors in the terminology or figures above, I’m too busy to confirm)

    35+15=50. 50÷2=25. 35-25=10.

    After the sausage is made expect a minimum of ~10% reduction in the federal corporate tax rate. However, the floor could be as low as 15%, the present capital gains for individuals rate, maybe 20% as that rate applies to capital gains for those in the highest bracket.

    The art of the deal.

  • njorl

    The White House on Wednesday will drop the outlines of a tax plan that insiders expect will contradict the blueprint Ryan has been working on for more than a year.

    A year’s worth of writing imagined headlines like, “Paul Ryan cuts taxes by a billion percent! Citizens rejoice!” and hundreds of sketches portraying himself as Captain Tax Cut have been rendered pointless.