Although Most Headlines Today Are Highlighting The Several Significant Differences Between House And Senate Tax Plans, We Think They’re Missing The Real Story
And that is, perhaps “inspired” by this week’s off-year election results, legislators in both the House and Senate are going out of their way now (which they weren’t really before) to actually make this an actual tax cut for the middle class. At least maybe. So does that mean sacrifices for the super rich? No way. Corporations? A little. (But they’ll still be rewarded handsomely in the long run). So who’s left to bear the brunt of it?
Upper-middle class and moderately wealthy people, that’s who! And the majority of those folks in this country live in states that don’t typically vote for Republicans anyway. That’s the main group that’s being punished (many will likely see their taxes go higher) in both the House version of the plan and even more so in the Senate version released late yesterday. That’s because the Senate does away with all deductions for state and local taxes including property tax. (The House version is a compromise). Whom does the loss of those deductions tend to hurt the most? Upper-middle class people in high tax states like California and New Jersey. (Of course, those cuts would not apply to corporations: they’d continue to enjoy the full deduction). And unlike the House version, the Senate proposal preserves the full mortgage interest rate deduction, so at least it doesn’t reverse decades of bipartisan policies to encourage home-ownership among the American public.
Now to the other differences: Most significantly, the Senate would delay a cut in corporate taxes, which is pretty much the whole reason Trump says we need a tax cut in the first place. The one year delay in lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%, would save a ton of money. The Senate proposal also re-instates some of the more controversial cuts the House wanted to make: for instance a tax credit for adoption, and catastrophic medical expenses.
While some reports tout this as a new, huge rift and a sign of disarray, (“nasty fight ahead” says Politico), we don’t think it looks like House and Senate are really that far off (which of course is disturbing in itself).
Roy Moore’s Really In Trouble
The walls are really closing in on the Republican nominee for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Attorney General.
But how do we know for sure that it’s really, really serious (and not just another “Access Hollywood”)?
• Not just because of an extremely damning and well-documented Washington Post story about how Moore “initiated a sexual encounter” with a 14-year old girl.
• Not just because Congressional leaders are calling for Moore to drop out (they never supported him in the first place, and they can’t just kick him off the ballot).
• Not just because his own allies aren’t exactly denying it and instead are pointing out things like Moore’s wife is 14-years younger than he is, so that’s kind of the same… Or trying to explain away his actions as the “youthful indiscretions” of a 32-year old. Or even that in the Bible, there are lots of stories about relationships between older men (some of whom were hundreds of years old) and younger women.
• Not even because the White House late yesterday said “if it’s true” Moore ought to bow out.
We know this for sure because boy is Breitbart pulling out all the stops! We sometimes refer to Breitbart stories, but seldom link to them. But here’s a link. Because not only is Breitbart blaming Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, they’re also blaming the Clintons, and even George Soros! That’s about everyone and everything they’ve got. That means it’s as serious as it gets.
Meanwhile, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski says she’s been on the phone with Luther Strange, who lost to Moore in the Republican primary, even though he was backed by Trump. Murkowski lost a primary a few years ago to a fringe candidate, but then won in the general election as a write-in. Of course, there’s also a Democrat in the race, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Doug Jones.
The special Alabama election is scheduled for December 12th.
Health Care, Health Care, Health Care
This chart we found tucked away in a Washington Post exit poll analysis, speaks volumes as to what voters (at least in Virginia) had in mind when they came out in droves in support of Democratic candidates. And as you can see, it’s pretty much all about keeping and maybe expanding health care. By far, the largest percentage of voters said health care was their biggest issue, weighted heavily toward Democrats. Second was gun control: about an even divide. Third, taxes: Republicans more concerned about that. (And immigration is still right up there, especially among Republicans).
While obviously this is just one state, we think this may be a pretty good snapshot of a lot of the nation right now. Which brings us back to a repeated theme for us: people already have the reasons, now let’s discover compelling candidates that’ll actually get people to the polls.
Also, if you haven’t seen it already, Late Night host Jimmy Kimmel continues to be one of the most effective political messengers in the country, at least when it comes to health care. He’s been using his show to actively urge people to sign up for “Trumpcare” at the “official government website” healthcare.gov (which of course it is). Here he is with an update on how that’s going:
Puerto Rico Back Down To 18% Power Almost 2-Months After Hurricane Maria
A massive power line that was “fixed” stopped working, putting Puerto Rico pretty much right back where it started power-wise. Power had been restored to 40% of the island, now it’s back to 18%, including some parts of San Juan.
Controversial contractor Whitefish Energy (Remember: tiny company, same home town as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but “no connection”?) denies any of its repairs had to do with the line failure.
Trump In Vietnam
After luxuriating in an outpouring of friendship in China, President Trump continues his long Asia trip today in Vietnam. In some ways, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (or APEC) meeting is the meat-and-potatoes of the entire journey.
We think the New York Times is correct in characterizing Trump’s speech there as “strikingly hostile”, doubling down on his “go it alone” attitude. Trump told the group he is willing to do unilateral deals, but only provided they “play fair”.
Vietnam in particular is miffed at Trump’s pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, which as we’ve mentioned before, like the deal or not, was a powerful move to debilitate China’s aspirations to domination the region. Particularly important to Vietnam which is involved in a long-running territorial dispute with China, (as is the Philippines). So they’d rather do business with the U.S., and as the New York Times also reports, at least partly for that reason, Trump is extremely popular in Vietnam.
And with Syria this week announcing it would join the Paris Accord Climate Agreement, the U.S. is also “going it alone” on climate change.
Separately, the South China Morning Post reports U.S. and North Korea talks might not be that far off. Albeit in a far less splashy forum. And of course they’d be unofficial. But the SCMP reports North Korea is invited to attend an Asia Pacific regional security conference that includes the U.S. set for December 14th and 15th in Thailand.