I’m no great fan of state of the union addresses (as long-time readers are sure to know). They are platitudinous affairs in which presidents tell a long series of anecdotes about particular people they claim their policies have helped. The responses from the opposition are no better, full of vague rhetoric that sounds as if it were recycled from old 90s stump speeches. I won’t review all this nonsense–it’s a waste of your time and mine. But I will offer you my review of Donald Trump’s first year. It’s a review focused on what the president has done, not on what he’s said. My interest is in large-scale policy that affects real people–not in scandals and tweets. If that still sounds interesting to you, come along for the ride.
We’re seeing lots of good pieces which point out that many of the claims the Republicans are making about their tax plan are not true, that the plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle. But today I want to make another point about the plan, one that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it merits. You see, it’s not just that the Republican plan helps the rich and hurts the middle. Those distributive consequences are real, and they matter, but this goes deeper than that. The Republican plan specifically targets liberal and left-leaning groups in the country for tax increases. It is an assault on the political neutrality of the tax system.
The original title was “In Praise of Unionism: What the European Left Can Learn From America,” but we souped it up a bit. It’s a bit longer and more comprehensive than the stuff I usually do here. The folks at CA are delightful to work with. They’re putting out some really terrific long-form pieces that dig into things more deeply than a lot of what we see on the web these days.
A friend of mine recently sent me this clip of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempting to defend President Trump’s “Cut Cut Cut” tax plan with an elaborate bar metaphor. Let’s call it the “Allegory of the Tab”:
A couple days later, my dad told me he heard someone bring this up, as if it were some kind of serious argument for Trump’s plan. I can’t let this stand. The Allegory of the Tab is too reductive, too simplistic, too brain-dead to pass without a post exclusively and entirely about how dumb it is.
When I talk to President Trump’s supporters about how they anticipate the president will bring back lost manufacturing jobs, I tend to hear the same argument over and over. It goes something like this:
Trump will cut corporate tax and other taxes that primarily hit investors.
Firms and investment will return from abroad to take advantage of the low tax rates.
It is possible to demonstrate that this is false. Here’s how to do it.