The top 1 percent would be the big winners of Romney's one trillion dollar corporate tax cut
Mitt Romney doesn't want to cut your taxes, but there is one group of people whose taxes he does want to cut. Corporations, my friend.
Ask anyone in Washington, and they'll tell you our corporate tax code needs an overhaul. It's a loophole-ridden mess with a high headline rate that hardly anybody pays -- if they pay anything at all. President Obama has proposed cutting the rate from 35 to 28 percent while eliminating enough preferences -- you can read which ones here -- to actually increase revenue. That sounds similar to what Romney wants to do, but it's not. Yes, Romney also wants to streamline the system, but he wants to do so in a pricey, two-part process. Here's how his advisers told the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center it would work.
Step 1: Cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, make the research credit permanent, allow full expensing on capital expenditures for one more year, and enact a repatriation tax holiday.
Step 2: Cut the corporate tax rate again by an unspecified amount, cut corporate tax preferences, and move to a territorial tax system.
This looks like a pretty standard tax reform -- cut rates and preferences, blah, blah, blah -- but look again. Romney only cuts preferences in the second step. The first step is not paid for. This is not a mistake; this is the plan. At least according to his advisers. Setting aside one-time costs like the repatriation tax holiday, the Tax Policy Center figures Romney's initial rate cut would reduce revenues by $96 billion in 2015 alone -- or nearly a trillion dollars over a decade. Who are the lucky flesh and blood people who would benefit from this 13-digit tax cut? That's a tricky question to answer, but the latest figures from the Tax Policy Center estimate that 53 percent of the corporate income tax falls on the top 1 percent. In other words, this $96 billion corporate tax cut would be a $51 billion tax cut for the top 1 percent. That's good for an average cut of $43,440 for each household in the top 1 percent, going by these 2015 Tax Policy Center distributional tables.
But the red ink doesn't stop with a half a trillion worth of tax cuts for the top 1 percent. There's also the repatriation tax holiday. That would cost a comparatively modest $79 billion over ten years, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Here's how it works. Right now, corporations have to pay the difference between our corporate tax rate and overseas corporate tax rates when they bring overseas profits back home. A repatriation holiday is just what it sounds like -- it lets corporations bring foreign profits here while paying much, much less in tax. The Bush administration tried this in 2004, and it was a total flop. The idea was returning capital would jumpstart jobs and investment, but all it jumpstarted were executive bonuses and stock buybacks. A 2011 Senate report found that the 15 companies that brought back the most capital actually cut over 20,000 jobs and cut research and development spending between 2004 and 2007. Even worse were the expectations this precedent created. It turns out if you give a corporation a repatriation tax holiday, they're going to expect another, which is why it would cost $79 billion over a decade. It incentivizes firms to sit on cash overseas and wait for the next holiday.
Of course, corporations don't have to wait for the next holiday if it never ends. That's what a territorial system is -- it eliminates U.S. taxes on foreign earnings altogether. Now, Romney says that he will pay for this part of his corporate tax plan, along with a further rate cut, by putting an end to some preferences. But he doesn't say which -- any -- he would go after. Luckily for us, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget put together this nifty corporate tax calculator that lets you try out different corporate tax reform permutations. Let's plug in what we know about the Romney plan -- it creates a $960 billion revenue hole, it makes the research tax credit permanent, and it moves to a territorial system. Romney would have to cut roughly $67 billion in preferences to get to a 22 percent rate. Not easy, but not impossible.
The good news for Romney is that his corporate tax plan is mathematically possible. That's an improvement over the rest of his tax plan, which is decidedly not. The bad news is the math works, but it adds up to a trillion dollar hole, with half of that going to the top 1 percent. Now, the smart money is on Romney trying to Etch A Sketch this, but this is his plan.
Invented centuries ago in France, the bidet has never taken off in the States. That might be changing.
“It’s been completely Americanized!” my host declares proudly. “The bidet is gone!” In my time as a travel editor, this scenario has become common when touring improvements to hotels and resorts around the world. My heart sinks when I hear it. To me, this doesn’t feel like progress, but prejudice.
Americans seem especially baffled by these basins. Even seasoned American travelers are unsure of their purpose: One globe-trotter asked me, “Why do the bathrooms in this hotel have both toilets and urinals?” And even if they understand the bidet’s function, Americans often fail to see its appeal. Attempts to popularize the bidet in the United States have failed before, but recent efforts continue—and perhaps they might even succeed in bringing this Old World device to new backsides.
As the Trump presidency approaches a troubling tipping point, it’s time to find the right term for what’s happening to democracy.
Here is something that, even on its own, is astonishing: The president of the United States demanded the firing of the former FBI deputy director, a career civil servant, after tormenting him both publicly and privately—and it worked.
The American public still doesn’t know in any detail what Andrew McCabe, who was dismissed late Friday night, is supposed to have done. But citizens can see exactly what Donald Trump did to McCabe. And the president’s actions are corroding the independence that a healthy constitutional democracy needs in its law enforcement and intelligence apparatus.
McCabe’s firing is part of a pattern. It follows the summary removal of the previous FBI director and comes amid Trump’s repeated threats to fire the attorney general, the deputy attorney, and the special counsel who is investigating him and his associates. McCabe’s ouster unfolded against a chaotic political backdrop which includes Trump’s repeated calls for investigations of his political opponents, demands of loyalty from senior law enforcement officials, and declarations that the job of those officials is to protect him from investigation.
Congressional Republicans and conservative pundits had the chance to signal Trump his attacks on law enforcement are unacceptable—but they sent the opposite message.
President Trump raged at his TV on Sunday morning. And yet on balance, he had a pretty good weekend. He got a measure of revenge upon the hated FBI, firing former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe two days before his pension vested. He successfully coerced his balky attorney general, Jeff Sessions, into speeding up the FBI’s processes to enable the firing before McCabe’s retirement date.
Beyond this vindictive fun for the president, he achieved something politically important. The Trump administration is offering a not very convincing story about the McCabe firing. It is insisting that the decision was taken internally by the Department of Justice, and that president’s repeated and emphatic demands—public and private—had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
How evangelicals, once culturally confident, became an anxious minority seeking political protection from the least traditionally religious president in living memory
One of the most extraordinary things about our current politics—really, one of the most extraordinary developments of recent political history—is the loyal adherence of religious conservatives to Donald Trump. The president won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received.
Trump’s background and beliefs could hardly be more incompatible with traditional Christian models of life and leadership. Trump’s past political stances (he once supported the right to partial-birth abortion), his character (he has bragged about sexually assaulting women), and even his language (he introduced the words pussy and shithole into presidential discourse) would more naturally lead religious conservatives toward exorcism than alliance. This is a man who has cruelly publicized his infidelities, made disturbing sexual comments about his elder daughter, and boasted about the size of his penis on the debate stage. His lawyer reportedly arranged a $130,000 payment to a porn star to dissuade her from disclosing an alleged affair. Yet religious conservatives who once blanched at PG-13 public standards now yawn at such NC-17 maneuvers. We are a long way from The Book of Virtues.
Although the former secretary of state’s contentious relationship with the president didn’t help matters, Tillerson’s management style left a department in disarray.
Rex Tillerson is hardly the first person to be targeted in a tweet from Donald Trump, but on Tuesday morning, he became the first Cabinet official to be fired by one. It was an ignominious end to Tillerson’s 13-month stint as secretary of state, a tenure that would have been undistinguished if it weren’t so entirely destructive.
Compared with expectations for other members of Trump’s Cabinet, the disastrous results of Tillerson’s time in office are somewhat surprising. Unlike the EPA’s Scott Pruitt, Tillerson did not have obvious antipathy for the department he headed; unlike HUD’s Ben Carson, he had professional experience that was relevant to the job; and unlike Education’s Betsy DeVos, his confirmation hearing wasn't a disaster.
As an admiral I helped run the most powerful military on Earth, but I couldn't save my son from the scourge of opioid addiction.
The last photograph of my son Jonathan was taken at the end of a new-student barbecue on the campus green at the University of Denver. It was one of those bittersweet transitional moments. We were feeling the combination of apprehension and optimism that every parent feels when dropping off a kid at college for the first time, which was amplified by the fact that we were coming off a rocky 16 months with our son.
We had moved him into his dormitory room only that morning. I remember how sharp he looked in the outfit he had selected, and his eagerness to start class and make new friends. We were happy, relieved, and, knowing what we thought he had overcome, proud. At lunch, I asked Jonathan whether he thought he was ready for the coming school year. “Dad, I can handle it as long as I continue my recovery,” he said. “Everything flows from that.”
Scholars have been sounding the alarm about data-harvesting firms for nearly a decade. The latest Cambridge Analytica scandal shows it may be too late to stop them.
On Friday night, Facebook suspended the account of Cambridge Analytica, the political-data company backed by billionaire Robert Mercer that consulted on both the Brexit and Trump campaigns.
The action came just before The Guardian and The New York Timesdropped major reports in which the whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged that Cambridge Analytica had used data that an academic had allegedly improperly exfiltrated from the social network. These new stories, backed by Wylie’s account and internal documents, followed years of reporting by The Guardianand The Intercept about the possible problem.
The details could seem byzantine. Aleksandr Kogan, then a Cambridge academic, founded a company, Global Science Research, and immediately took on a major client, Strategic Communications Laboratories, which eventually gave birth to Cambridge Analytica. (Steve Bannon, an advisor to the company and a former senior advisor to Trump, reportedly picked the name.)
UMBC’s big win wasn’t a miracle, it was a well-executed plan.
People now know the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as the ultimate Cinderella, an overnight social media sensation, the team that magically emerged as the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the history of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. But our story is far less fairy tale than it is classic American dream. Our magic comes from questioning expectations, putting in the hard work, and staying focused.
The nation saw the results on the court Friday night. My colleagues, students, alumni, and their families came to the game knowing the team would give the game their all. Our men’s basketball team embodies our definition of grit. We knew the players were bringing both passion and preparation to the game. We knew that they would listen to the guidance of head coach Ryan Odom, support one another, give their individual best, and get tougher and tougher as the game went on.
A new six-part Netflix documentary is a stunning dive into a utopian religious community in Oregon that descended into darkness.
To describe Wild Wild Country as jaw-dropping is to understate the number of times my mouth gaped while watching the series, a six-part Netflix documentary about a religious community in Oregon in the 1980s. It’s ostensibly the story of how a group led by the dynamic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh purchased 64,000 acres of land in central Oregon in a bid to build its own utopian city. But, as the series immediately reveals, the narrative becomes darker and stranger than you might ever imagine. It’s a tale that mines the weirdness of the counterculture in the ’70s and ’80s, the age-old conflict between rural Americans and free love–preaching cityfolk, and the emotional vacuum that compels people to interpret a bearded mystic as something akin to a god.
Once they've grown up, African American children are more likely than their white counterparts to backslide into a lower economic group.
When it comes to financial stability, black Americans are often in much more precarious financial situations than white Americans. Their unemployment rate is higher, and so is the level of poverty within the black community. In 2013, the poverty rate among white Americans was 9.6 percent, among black Americans it was 27.2 percent. And the gap between the wealth of white families and black families has widened to its highest levels since 1989, according to a 2014 study by Pew Research Center.
The facts of this rift aren’t new, or all that surprising. But perhaps what’s most unsettling about the current economic climate in black America is that when black families attain middle-class status, the likelihood that their children will remain there, or do better, isn’t high.