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Economy

Here’s the GOP tax plan…and it sucks if you live in New Jersey or California

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The GOP has finally unveiled details of the “tax reform” plan coming out of the House Ways and Means Committee. Yay.

I use scare-quotes around “tax reform” because it doesn’t really reform much, but it does monkey with deductions, exemptions, tax credits and brackets. For many Americans on a paycheck it will put more cash into their pockets. But if you live in a high tax state like New Jersey, New York, or California, you might get soaked.

I’ll get to that in a minute…first, some highlights.

The top bracket will remain at 39.6%. They wanted to lower it but Democrats won the day here. As for deductions, the standard deduction nearly doubled from $12,700 (married) to $24,400, along the same lines as the head of household and single deductions. But the personal exemption of $4,050 will disappear. So, the question here is: will the added standard deduction result in a lower tax bill or not?

Democrats are claiming it will increase most Americans’ tax burden. But that’s been debunked. Apparently they only looked at Democrats in high tax states, not, you know, the whole country. The WaPo fact checker gave them the dreaded “four Pinnochios.” For shame.

Democrats are lying about Republican tax plan, says Washington Post fact-checker

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/democrats-are-lying-about-the-gop-tax-plan-says-washington-post-fact-checker/article/2639367The Washington Post’s fact-checker said Thursday that Democrats aren’t telling the truth when they say the Republican tax plan would raise taxes on most middle-class families. In an early Thursday morning story, fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Democrats four Pinocchios for making that claim. Kessler noted that the data Democrats used to make their argument actually showed that taxpayers in each of the five income bands used in the analysis would see a tax cut, not a hike, and that the average cut would be $450 for 80 percent of families.

Less itemization

That all depends on if you itemize. With such a high standard deduction, some of the caps proposed to what used to be itemized deductions may cause more people to file a non-itemized return. That’s the “reform” part, I guess. Less work for Uncle Sam looking at the Schedule A and associated documents.

The big deal is a cap of $10,000 for property tax only, and no deduction at all for other state and local taxes. If you live in a high income-tax state, well, ouch. That part of the bill may not survive.

One way for Californians and other meta-socialist dwellers to get their deductions back would be to give more to charity. I know, Democrats would rather pay taxes and let the government give away their money, but charity is still completely deductible. That’s good news for Christians, who give the most.

For high-value home buyers, the interest deduction, currently capped at loans up to $1 million, will cut in half to $500,000. Meh. And the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), will go away. That’s bad for the super rich and their accountants. Again for the rest of us, meh.

No changes will be made to the $18,000 pretax deferral for 401(k) contributions. At least they didn’t monkey with our retirement (as if Social Security isn’t a 10-ton gorilla monkeying with our retirement, but that’s a different story).

Reports

Republicans Release Tax Plan, Cutting Corporate and Middle-Class Taxes

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/us/politics/tax-plan-republicans.html?action=Click&contentCollection=BreakingNews&contentID=66033953&pgtype=Homepage&_r=0The compromise, as it had been sketched out this week, would preserve the deduction for property taxes, but not for state and local income taxes, and it appeared as if there would be a cap on the deduction. But at first glance, it did not appear as if that was enough to win over all of the New York and New Jersey members.

What the Republican Tax Plan Means for You – WSJ

https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-the-republican-tax-plan-means-for-you-1509629815The highlights include lower rates for many individual households but not the highest earners; fewer individual tax brackets; a larger standard deduction for households who don’t itemize their tax bills; trimmed-back deductions for state and local taxes; eventual repeal of the estate tax; and much lower rates for corporate profits and profits for individuals on unincorporated business income.

Reactions

Final thoughts

The real question here: Is the GOP tax plan better than doing nothing? In government, doing nothing is almost always better than doing something, since legislators tend to screw up everything they do. The less they do, the less to screw up. But in this case, the jury is still out for me. Personally, it would likely be a wash. I don’t make enough money to be affected by the high tax bracket and AMT issues. I don’t live in a relatively high-tax state (Georgia isn’t Florida, Texas or New Hampshire, but it’s not New Jersey either). The rest of the changes might put some cash in my pocket–or not.

I think it’s a good start. But the more these things get kicked around, the more they get turned into rotting fly-infested carcasses that don’t resemble the thing they were supposed to be. This is why the jury is out…we may yet find out that doing nothing was the right move.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jan

    November 2, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    We will have to do our taxes to tell if this a tax cut or not.

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Economy

Reminder: Tech Giants are not monopolies

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Reminder Tech Giants are not monopolies

There is a lot of disgust aimed towards tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. And why not? These companies are large, incredibly biased, and quite powerful. Their reach is everywhere, striving towards omnipresence. Their influence can sway public opinion, as evident on issues such as Net Neutrality and to reach back for a more benign issue, SOPA 2014. Another concern is the pubic safety of personal information. Data breaches, hacks, and leaks are all significant risks. In China, Google has assisted the government with the surveillance of their people. And while public safety is an issue, the solution of regulating these large companies as monopolies is fraudulent in its premise. The enact anti-trust laws would ignore the simple fact: neither Google, Facebook, or Twitter are monopolies.

Antitrust

But denotation doesn’t stop individuals from advocating action. Kurt Schlicter of Townhall wrote a fiery piece advocating for serious regulation.

And what’s also scary is their willful manipulation of the algorithms that determine what can and cannot be said and read. If you don’t exist on Google, in many ways, you really don’t exist at all. Well, that’s intolerable. Our free society conducts its business on the Internet, and if one unaccountable, partisan group can decide what topics can and cannot be discussed, we no longer have a free society. We’d have a fascist one, and fascists are bad even if those fascists swill kombucha tea, bike to work at a Mountain View campus, and spew ridiculous mottos like “Don’t be evil.”

By definition, a monopoly is when a single firm has absolute market share. Yet the federal government has its own definition. And that definition is comprised in the form of antitrust laws. Ryan Cooper of The Week proposed:

It could be that careful anti-trust action could build a market with several search competitors, and thereby create some competition. But certainly all search platforms should be forced to follow something like a railroad’s common carriage rules, where websites are not allowed to be ranked according to how much they might profit the platform itself, and get fair access to search traffic.

This action would break Google apart into several companies and only enrich Google shareholders. The Google splinters would crush the actual competitors of Google rendering making this polygopoly a more clear monopoly for the shareholders than it was already before. Historically speaking, the Rockefellers gained an immense amount of wealth after Standard Oil broke apart. Again it must be said about how Coopers supposition is a flagrant misuse of antitrust law.

Suicidal?

Microsoft’s battle in the 1990s is a crowning misuse of antitrust law. Microsoft was found to be a monopoly because they put their own software, internet explorer, on their own operating system, Windows. What Microsoft did was clear business instinct. Yet the feds and several states wanted to split them up. Their plan ultimately failed but the precedent remains. In 1999, Milton Friedman referred to companies seeking to break up Microsoft as suicidal, seeking action that would one day be used against them.

“Under the circumstances, given that we do have antitrust laws, is it really in the self-interest of Silicon Valley to set the government on Microsoft? Your industry, the computer industry, moves so much more rapidly than the legal process, that by the time this suit is over, who knows what the shape of the industry will be. Never mind the fact that the human energy and the money that will be spent in hiring my fellow economists, as well as in other ways, would be much more productively employed in improving your products. It’s a waste! But beyond that, you will rue the day when you called in the government. From now on the computer industry, which has been very fortunate in that it has been relatively free of government intrusion, will experience a continuous increase in government regulation. Antitrust very quickly becomes regulation. Here again is a case that seems to me to illustrate the suicidal impulse of the business community.”

The USFL is another clear example where using antitrust was literally business suicide. The United States Football League launched in 1983 as a spring alternative to the NFL. Yet in their poor management, they moved to fall where the NFL had all of the TV contracts and sued the NFL for antitrust. In truth, their very existence disproved the notion that the NFL was a monopoly, also the existence of college football. The USFL invested everything into the antitrust suit and won $3 dollars($1 tripled).

Competition

Google/ Alphabet

Search Engine, adsales, appstore, Youtube, email, consumer electronics, operating systems, big data, web browser, programs, social network etc.
  • Verizon (Yahoo, AOL) – failed internet giant, search engine, adsales, email
  • Apple – fellow tech giant, consumer electronics, app store, operating system
  • Microsoft – operating systems, direct competitor to Google’s word processing platform, web browser(sort of), app store, search engine
  • DuckDuckGo – private search engine
  • Opera – web browser, free VPN/ adblock
  • Brave – web browser with adblock
  • Netflix – content streaming platform
  • Hulu – Content streaming platform
  • TV – not a company but a replacement for Youtube
  • Yelp – review website

Facebook

Social networks, text app for europeans,
  • Twitter – microblogging platform
  • Minds – social network
  • Snapchat – picture messaging, social network
  • Craigslist – localized ad sales
  • Reddit – online community based on interest
  • Myspace – Technically still a thing, rebranded as a music page
  • Codias – political social network

Twitter

Microblogging platform
  • WordPress – webhosting, blogging platform
  • Gab – Turkish microblogging platform
  • Steemit – cryptocurrency social network for original content creators
  • Kialo – social media platform for civil debate
  • Micgoat – video/blogging platform for debate

Conclusion

As you can see, Google is so large and expansive, they cannot be considered a monopoly, for their is competition every industry they are in. Their most serious competitors are other tech giants, like Microsoft and Apple. Facebook has numerous competitors as does Twitter. Just because their competition lacks prominence, doesn’t mean there is a monopoly.

The titans of tech are not monopolies, nor should we want them treated as such. Treating Facebook as a monopoly would create at least three large companies. And these newly divided large companies would eventually merge together and crush the alternative social platforms that currently exist. Rather these platforms would benefit from these companies remaining large and having bad PR. These companies will create innovations and capitalize on their fall should they end up like Yahoo or Kodak.

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Economy

Mimi Walters says CA rail is the epitome of taxpayer waste

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Mimi Walters says CA rail is the epitome of taxpayer waste

The idea was doomed from the start, at least to those who understood the magnitude of the project California Democrats were pushing. A nice-to-have it like California’s high-speed rail is only nice to have when it doesn’t cost billions of dollars in a state that has trouble keeping to its budget.

Representative Mimi Walters (D-CA) from Orange County understands this all too well. As one of the few Republican representatives in the leftist state, it’s up to her and other fiscally responsible representatives to make Sacramento listen to reason.

In the quote, she was referencing a LA Times article that further criticized the project. When the LA Times points outs waste coming from Sacramento, you know it must be bad.

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Economy

GE Appliances CEO Kevin Nolan credits tax cuts for more investments, jobs

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GE Appliances CEO Kevin Nolan credits tax cuts for more investments jobs

GE Appliances is poised to invest another $200 million into domestic manufacturing, creating hundreds of jobs and helping to boost Kentucky’s economy. This is the latest in a string of expansion investments that the company needs in order to meet increased demand.

CEO Kevin Nolan credits tax cuts for the recent major investments. It isn’t just that demand is higher because more people are working and keeping what they bring home. The corporate tax cuts that Democrats have been trying to paint as cronyism for the greedy business elite are playing a big role in U.S. companies expanding their operations and increasing the workforce.

The changes in rates and favorable tax treatment of investments in machinery and equipment play a big role in our expansion plans.

Citing Tax Reform, GE Appliances Launches $200M Investment in U.S. Manufacturing, Adding 400 Jobs

https://www.shopfloor.org/2018/10/citing-tax-reform-ge-appliances-announces-200-million-investment-u-s-manufacturing/“GE Appliances has long been an exemplary corporate partner for Louisville and the Commonwealth,” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said. “This iconic company has employed many thousands of Kentuckians for generations, and we are grateful for their most recent investment in the Bluegrass State. As GE Appliances continues to adapt to a changing marketplace, we are confident that they will remain a perfect fit right here in Kentucky—America’s center for engineering and manufacturing excellence.”

Appliance Park, GE Appliance’s headquarters, is a 900-acre facility that’s home to five manufacturing plants, a technology and engineering center, industrial design and the largest warehouse in its distribution network. The company started manufacturing operations there in 1953. The complex generates an annual Kentucky economic impact of $4.6 billion annually and employs more than 6,000 workers.

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