April 16, 2019


Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

On Tax Day, both sides weigh in on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which took effect this year. House.gov

“Independent analyses have consistently found that a large majority of Americans would owe less because of the law. Preliminary data based on tax filings has shown the same… [but] a survey conducted in early April for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey found that just 40 percent of Americans believed they had received a tax cut under the law. Just 20 percent were certain they had done so.” New York Times

Calculate the new law’s effect on your own taxes here. Tax Foundation

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of the tax cuts and proposes making tax returns public.

“Households making between $500,000 and $1 million will see their after-tax income rise by an average of 5.2%. Households making less than $50,000 (the median income is $61,372 in the US) see only a 0.6% increase.
Lydia DePillis, CNN

“Because of all these tax cuts -- and especially the corporate cuts -- budget deficits are expected to skyrocket past $1 trillion per year starting in 2022 and stay there. With the national debt over $22 trillion, that means the US will ultimately have to make some hard choices. So enjoy that tax cut, everyone.”
Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

“A few companies have made a big show of opening a new plant in the United States, but the hard data show the 500 largest public companies have used their tax savings to buy back stock far more than they have on capital spending… Trump [also] cut the tax rate on repatriated money and said it would unleash a flood of cash coming home. According to government data, $665 billion has come back so far, a fraction of the roughly $3 trillion many analysts believe is overseas.”
Heather Long, Washington Post

“According to the most recent forecasts, the GOP’s tax cut will ultimately cost $1.9 trillion over a decade… For about that much money, they could have sent a $1,000 check to every worker in America (and adjusted it for inflation) for the next ten years. Heck, they could have included an auto-signed picture of the president to go along with it; instead of a bunch of stories about how nobody realizes they got a tax cut, the headlines would be all about how Americans were spending their Trump Bux… If you’re going to cut people’s taxes, don’t write a bunch of draft bills that make it look like you’re raising them instead. And once you do pass the legislation, make sure people realize they actually got a cut.”
Jordan Weissmann, Slate

“In October 1924, the federal government threw open for public inspection the files that recorded the incomes of American taxpayers, and the amounts they had paid in taxes… Almost a century later, it’s time to revisit the merits of universal public disclosure… Calling for more disclosure may seem discordant at a time of growing concern about privacy. But income taxation is an act of government, not an aspect of private life. Property tax records provide a reasonable model. Local governments disclose the name of the property owner, the value of the property and the amount of taxes owed and paid. The same information should be available for income taxes.”
Binyamin Appelbaum, New York Times

“Norway has been putting out records since 1814; in Sweden, they've been public since 1903. Public tax returns help reduce gender and racial pay disparities, make labor markets more efficient, encourage workers to bargain for higher pay, prevent tax evasion, and create a rich font of data for economists and other researchers. The US ought to give the idea a try.”
Dylan Matthews, Vox

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is supportive of Trump’s tax cuts, and dismayed that many individuals are not aware they paid less in taxes.

From the Right

The right is supportive of Trump’s tax cuts, and dismayed that many individuals are not aware they paid less in taxes.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) writes, “There’s a reason that 91 percent of middle-class taxpayers are getting a tax cut… Tax rates are lower at every income level, proportionally the most at low-to-middle income levels. The popular Child Tax Credit was doubled to $2,000, made available to more workers who don’t have a tax liability, and expanded so 8 million more middle class families are newly eligible. Doubling the standard deduction not only keeps more earnings from being taxed, but makes tax filing simpler. Nine out of 10 taxpayers in America no longer have to itemize to get their full tax cut.”
Kevin Brady, Fox News

“You’d think Republicans would be vindicated, at least on the narrow question of whether tax cuts cut taxes, now that everyone has filed their 2018 returns and seen the benefits. H&R Block says its customers saw their liability fall 25 percent, and that the average savings was $1,200… [but] instead of sending everyone a GOP Tax Cut Check, the bill adjusted withholding formulas so people would get a little bit more in each paycheck throughout the year. This is better for household budgeting but doesn’t give people that warm fuzzy lottery-winner feeling.”
Robert Verbruggen, National Review

“This is yet another case of perception trumping reality. The [New York Times’] own polling shows that the liberal messaging war about how the tax cuts only [benefited] the wealthy has really sunk in. Only 20% of respondents were ‘certain’ that they’d gotten a tax cut. (The number is closer to 70%.) Of course, the New York Times hasn’t done much to correct these falsehoods until now, so it’s no wonder there are so many misconceptions.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“Americans in the top 20 percent paid an estimated 87 percent of income taxes for 2018. This was up from 84 percent in 2017, which means that the ‘Trump tax cuts’ actually made the tax code more progressive… It’s not preposterous to argue that the rich, however defined, should pay a few percentage points more in income tax in the name of fairness. But it’s also not preposterous to say that when 1 percent of the people provide more than a third of income-tax revenue, they’re already paying their fair share.”
Jonah Goldberg, National Review

“In 2017, the IRS collected $1,838,403,489,000 in individual income tax and a further $1,123,473,137,000 in payroll taxes. That’s nearly $3 trillion in revenue, and most of us have no solid idea where it goes… Congress should require that within six months of Tax Day, the Internal Revenue Service must issue to all taxpayers a rundown of how much they paid, and what programs it went to fund. Seeing the figures in black and white will be a shock, and might wake people up to the runaway costs created by our ever-expanding government.”
Kyle Sammin, The Federalist

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

Strange ‘unicorn’ sheep saved from death by two cases of beer.

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