New Friends For W And Jonah?

George W Bush’s recent speech has attracted some interesting press.  It has also given Jonah Goldberg something interesting to say about The Donald and his relationship to others.  Let’s start with the speech.  The Politico title is: Full Text George W. Bush Speech On Trumpism.  It connects to Edward-Isaac Dovere’s article: George W. Bush Slams Trumpism, Without Mentioning The President By Name.  The two titles give it away.  W is now a leftist hero because he attacked The Donald even though he did not mention him.

We read the speech and thought The Donald wasn’t the main target.  In one paragraph he uses the time frame since World War II.  In the next paragraph W says the following:

For more than 70 years, the presidents of both parties believed that American security and prosperity were directly tied to the success of freedom in the world. And they knew that the success depended, in large part, on U.S. leadership. This mission came naturally, because it expressed the DNA of American idealism.

So does the 70 years mean from 1945 to 2015?  We don’t think it does for two reasons.  One, FDR became a fan of US leadership in the late 30s or early 40s.  We think that his relationship with Churchill dates it in the 30s.  Second, the US president from 2009 to 2017 was no fan of freedom in the world or US leadership.  We see the criticisms from W falling at least as heavily on him as The Donald.

That brings us around to Jonah.  We think that recently he has missed that there are many of us who voted for The Donald because we felt he was the better choice.  We still think that is true.  But Jonah has a crucial point:

But it seems like almost everybody is only hearing what they want to hear. Liberals, the media, and — importantly — President Trump’s Amen Corner all heard the same thing in Bush’s remarks: “Blah, blah, blah, blah, Trump Bad.” That’s why Bush is suddenly benefitting from a strange new respect from liberals and a strange new hatred from former supporters.

Our reaction is clearly within those bounds of hearing what we want to hear although we continue to be a big supporter of W, much less excited about The Donald, and decidedly unenthusiastic about the president between them.  Shortly after that Jonah asks:

I want to ask you to entertain a thought experiment. Imagine, if just for a moment, that all of you who fall into one of these camps are entirely wrong. What if President Bush was aiming his fire at Democrats and liberals?

We are not a liberal and we are not in The Donald’s Amen Corner (but we are fans of Amen Corner at Augusta).  We think that W was defending his administration but that he did direct most of his fire at the Democrats and liberals.  We like Jonah’s point and question.  We all need to ask if we misunderstand somebody.  This is especially true when they don’t name names.  When we read the speech by W we were shocked to see the headline and the related article.  We saw it as an epic takedown of that other president.  Try going through it line by line and see what you think.  As for now, Jonah is back as a must read for us.

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McCarthy And The NFL

Andy McCarthy at NRO has a great take (that is, we agree with most of it) on the controversy among The Donald, the press, and the NFL.  His point is that the primary claim by the athletes that blacks are being killed by police with impunity is false.  Here is a quote we like:

Right. We are supposed to accept, without inquiry or criticism, what they claim to be seeking. We are supposed to ignore, as if it were not plain as day, that what the protesters are actually seeking — a racially skewed justice system, one that would endanger law-abiding black people by paralyzing the police — is the antithesis of what they claim to be seeking.

As the saying goes, read all of it.  Andy’s article also reminds us of the uncharacteristic nature of the left’s argument in this case.  Two of the left’s favorite weapons are that the insulted party gets to determine the extent of the insult and hypocrisy is the vilest of acts. Kaepernick and his followers on the field and in the press often say it is about violent police behavior towards blacks.  The insulted parties disagree saying that they have insulted the flag, the military, and so on.  We doubt that the left’s irony is intentional but the double nature of it brings us joy.

Andy’s article is more important than recognizing the double hypocrisy of the left.  Both are enjoyable.

 

 

GOP Tax Proposal

We had great fun reading Jeanne Sahadi’s article on CNN Money: Details Of The GOP Tax Reform Framework Revealed.  We have some serious comments about the framework below but first a few snippets from CNN Money that reveal the interaction of CNN and GOP.

Here are some nuggets from Jeanne with [our comment]:

And even though the administration says it wants reform to offer middle class tax relief, the framework calls for a 12% bottom rate, which is actually higher than today’s lowest rate of 10%. But typical families in the 10% bracket today “are expected to be better off” when all the changes under reform are considered together, the blueprint says.  [So why are there quotes around expected to be better off?  Is it because it comes from the framework?]

Next:

[The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)] was originally intended to ensure the wealthy [nope, high income as it is not a wealth tax] pay at least some tax.  [It has been a spectacular failure.]

And then:

Kill the estate tax: What Republicans refer to as the “death tax” only affects about 0.2% of all estates — and only those worth more than $5.5 million. [So it is not a death tax?  Jeanne makes strong arguments

And then:

The hope [hope?  Do you think business react to incentives or not?] is that the new system will make U.S. companies more competitive with their foreign counterparts, and that they will use more of their foreign profits to invest and create jobs in the United States.

It is just the usual tone you expect.  Now on to the serious stuff.  Our position is that we only care about business taxes in this reform period.  So the personal tax stuff seems inoffensive but we really don’t care about it.  We care about business taxes and find this proposal is a good one.

  1. It cuts corporate taxes substantially.
  2. It cuts business taxes.
  3. It switches to a territorial system.

No proposal is perfect but this is a good one.

 

 

A Sorry Excuse

Mike Kaplan, the CEO of Aspen Skiing has taken to the editorial page of the WSJ to make an extra special pleading for open borders.  Obviously, open borders advocates are received with open arms at the WSJ.  Mike, however, has an extra special pleading for open borders.  He doesn’t mention workers at Aspen.  All the ski areas we have been to recently have many international workers.  Mike says that the “xenophobia” emanating from the White House is causing legal Mexican tourists to stay away from Colorado.  He gives away the real story at the start of the last sentence which we have made bold:

Last year visitation to Aspen by Mexicans dropped 30% compared with the 2015-16 ski season. Bookings for 2017-18 aren’t looking much better. There are multiple reasons, but the xenophobia radiating from the Oval Office ranks at the top. As the head of the Mexico City public-relations firm that promotes Aspen in Mexico told us, “The dollar has been strong, which makes travel to the U.S. expensive, but Trump is the No. 1 reason.” [Emphasis added]

Sidebar: One question is: should we boycott places that say such things?  We say no.  Folks can do with their own money as that see fit.  We don’t want to rule out great places like Aspen and especially for us, Snowmass, just because the CEO makes silly excuses for an off year.  End Sidebar.

The dollar was strong last season when one would cost almost 22 pesos but today it cost less than 18 pesos.  It is time for Mike to get back to work and stop worrying about The Donald.  We hope Aspen has a great year.

 

A Different Profile

We were going to avoid commenting on Catherine Rampell’s silly attempt to smear the Republican Party.  We didn’t think she was worth our time but after reading and commenting on Aaron Hedlund’s serious piece in the NRO we felt we had to make a comparison.  Aaron was taking a risk with his career to start a serious discussion.  We are not sure what Catherine was doing or why she was doing it.  Here is how she starts off:

Republicans have one idea and one idea only: That we should cut taxes for the rich. The only thing that changes is the sales pitch.

Goodness!  That is the whole first paragraph.   Catherine writes for the Washington Post which is often thought to be a serious outlet for news and opinion.  The HardingKennedy (he is an honorary Republican now), Reagan, and Bush tax cuts were across the board.  The Romney tax cuts would have been across the board too if we has the sense to elect Mitt.

Most of the interest this time around, however, is on reducing business (including corporate) taxes.  So after smearing The Donald, The Donald Jr., Betsy DeVos, and Jared Kushner she says:

A slightly different trickle-down pitch (one Romney, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, and other prominent Republicans have also made) has to do with capital formation.

If corporate income taxes and capital gains taxes fell, then shareholders would get to keep a higher portion of corporate profits. That means investors might be willing to offer more capital to businesses, and thereby help them expand — which could grow jobs and wages.

Ah, start the old trickle-down lie.  Thomas Sowell takes this caricature to task in depth.  Here is part of his conclusion:

To the extent that the American economy has changed since the time of Andrew Mellon, it has changed in ways that make it even easier for wealthy investors to escape high tax rates. A globalized economy makes overseas investments a readily available alternative to buying taxexempt bonds domestically. Even if the domestic tax rate is not “high” by historic standards, what matters now is whether it is high compared to tax rates in other countries to which large sums of money can be readily sent electronically. Meanwhile, unemployed workers cannot nearly so readily relocate to other countries to take the jobs created there by American investments fleeing higher tax rates at home.

Of course, Catherine and rest of the left wants laws to prevent the flight of capital and organizations from the US.  She is also implying that corporate taxes fall entirely on shareholders.  There are two problems with this.  First, shareholders are widely dispersed.  Secondly, and more importantly, it is unlikely that corporate taxes fall entirely on shareholders.  Here is what the CBO found:

Even though the majority of the studies conclude that labor bears a substantial burden of the corporate tax, the various methodological limitations put the reliability of those specific estimates into question. Indeed, trying to address the long-run incidence of general corporate income tax is a daunting task, and these studies have made attempts at using the data available to provide insight into that question. However, it remains unclear where incidence will fall in an open economy. [Emphasis added]

To summarize, the notoriously right-wing CBO (satire alert!) found that research generally showed that labor bears a substantial burden of the corporate tax but it can’t be certain that the research is right.  We wonder how they do their projections if it is (and it is) unclear when will happen in an open economy.  Reducing corporate taxes is likely to improve corporate decision making and it is also likely to help labor.

Robert Verbruggen notes that economists disagree (a shock!) on how to increase wages.  One way that has substantial but not complete support from economists would be to reduce corporate taxes.

Catherine’s piece is very different from Aaron’s.  Aaron has made his arguments and stuck his neck out.  Catherine has just told us she doesn’t like Republicans and really dislikes The Donald and his associates.   She has offered amazingly little other than reciting some dubious mantras of the left.  They do, however, have one similar shortcoming.  Neither has suggested a willingness to compromise.  We think there needs to be a compromise to make a breakthrough.  Many are possible but here is our suggestion: reduce the corporate rate to 15 percent, eliminate the federal gas tax, and enact a carbon tax equal to or even slightly above the current gas tax.  It is a deal that gives something to the climate folks, the deficit hawks, economic conservatives. Each group loses something as well but you can’t trade Don Buddin for Mickey Mantle.  It is time for political folks to do political stuff.

 

 

Too Slow And Too Good

We are too slow and Elliot Kaufman and Mike Rowe are too good.  Elliot discusses a NYT article while Mike shows that you can fight the mob and still maintain your independence.  Elliot quotes the NYT article gushes:

[A] surprising group of Americans is testing its moral voice more forcefully than ever: C.E.O.s.

Next Elliot tells us about the young adult site:

Vox upped the ante, explaining: “After Charlottesville, CEOs have become our public conscience.”

Of course, this is just appeasement.  The CEOs are hoping that the leftist crocodile eats them last.  Elliot explains:

The New York Times was right, in a sense. “The C.E.O.s had found their voice,” concluded their fawning article. But top-flight executives are not pre-teen girls who have finally mustered up the confidence to speak; they are savvy representatives of their shareholders’ interests. ESPN, like all the Fortune 500 companies that leapt to boycott or threaten Indiana and North Carolina over their religious-liberty and transgender-bathroom laws, knew that the safest thing they could do was to get out ahead of a left-wing mob.

Do read all of it.

It is the opposite of courage to give into the mob.  Business folk, particularly CEOs, are working for their shareholders.  It is a reasonable business judgment that it is in their shareholders’ interest to submit to the mob and is a moral judgment in the sense of serving their shareholders but VOX is exactly wrong to call the CEOs public conscience.   This is a private and perhaps profitable choice like paying protection to a different mob.

Sidebar: It is an interesting aspect of politics that the left supports CEOs when they do exactly the opposite of what the left wants.  The left wants CEOs, somehow, to work for the public rather than profits of their company.  In this case the CEOs are working to increase their profits but the left is happy.  The left is not the only side to confuse short-term gains with principles.  End Sidebar.

Mike, on the other hand, wants to combat the mob without taking political sides.  We agree.  We would describe it as the fight against violent socialism.  It doesn’t matter if it is the national socialists (Nazis) or world socialists, often, without intentional irony, called Antifa.  The important word is violent.  Here is how Mike takes issue with a commenter that calls him anti-intellectual and tries to associate him with the Nazis.  He does this without (entirely) taking a political side:

mikeroweWORKS is a PR campaign for the skilled trades. For the last nine years, we’ve partnered with numerous trade schools, raised millions of dollars for work-ethic scholarships, and called attention to millions of jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. But that doesn’t mean we’re “anti-intellectual.” We’re not even “anti-college.” We simply reject the popular notion that a four-year degree is the best path for the most people. And we’re hardly alone.

Millions of reasonable people – Republicans and Democrats alike – are worried that our universities are doing a poor job of preparing students for the real world. They’re worried about activist professors [R], safe spaces [R], the rising cost of tuition [R&D], a growing contempt for history [R], and a simmering disregard of the first amendment [R]. These people are concerned that our universities – once beacons of free speech – now pander to a relatively small percentage of students who can’t tolerate any political opinion that challenges their own. And they’re concerned – deeply concerned – that millions of good jobs are currently vacant that don’t require a four-year degree, or any of the catastrophic debt that comes with it. [R & D added]

We’ve put R for Republican and D for Democrat on Mike’s list of what reasonable people think.  Of course, Mike’s response is being lapped up by conservative sites like TheBlaze, The Daily Caller, and Fox News because conservatives like the list above, are generally pro-capitalism, and and are anti-violence.  As Mike shows, the CEOs could have done better.

Enough Never Trump

We love Kevin Williamson, Jonah Goldberg is often entertaining, and David French writes but the NRO Never Trump Brigade needs to find a new song.  Today it is Kevin’s turn to salt the soil:

Some of the smarter right-wing talking mouths on cable news have already developed aggressive amnesia regarding their own complicity in Trump’s rise, and it is likely that many will follow. The line of argument will be: “Hey, I was a big Ted Cruz supporter, really, but, after the primary, it was Trump or Hillary.” Some people will need reminding of what they said and did.

To be fair to Kevin, he is against impeaching The Donald.  To be fair to us, we were for anyone but The Donald in the primary.  Like many, we were not a big Ted Cruz supporter but we voted for him in the primary because he was better than The Donald.  In the general election our first choice was Mitt’s second term but that wasn’t on the ballot.  The choice, and it was a binary one, was between The Donald and Herself.  We, and the country, made the right choice and voted for The Donald.

NRO deserves some credit for The Donald’s rise.  They were steadfastly against The Donald but tried to beat somebody (The Donald) with nobody for most of the primary season.  They, like many others, underestimated The Donald until it was too late and then nothing worked.

Many of The Donald’s supporters main concern was illegal immigration.  There has not been a legislative solution but there has been a change:

Illegal immigration across the southwest border is down more than 60 percent so far under President Trump, officials revealed Tuesday, even before the first new agent is hired or the first mile of his promised border wall is constructed.

Those supporters have gotten what they wanted.

It was a binary choice in November.  There were many folks that reluctantly supported The Donald.  It was the right choice.  If the Never Trump Brigade didn’t support The Donald in November then they were wrong.  They don’t need to admit it but the Never Trump Brigade needs to stop emulating The Donald.  Write less silly stuff.  Instead let us talk of serious things.