Archive

October 21st, 2016

Companies Avoiding Taxes

    Donald Trump has become the country’s most notorious tax shirker. And while his long avoidance of federal income taxes is extreme, it’s also part of a larger problem.

    The most affluent and powerful parts of our society have too easy a time legally avoiding taxes.

    Consider corporate taxes, which ultimately tend to be paid by the well-off, because they own the most stock. The official corporate rate is 35 percent, infamously higher than in any other advanced economy. Yet there are so many loopholes that companies often pay relatively little in tax.

    Many companies work hard to shroud how much they really pay, sprinkling various figures throughout their complex financial statements. But companies must report one number that provides a good glimpse. It’s called cash taxes paid — the combined amount that a company pays in federal, state, local and even foreign taxes.

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Trump is failing at basically everything right now. This poll proves it.

    Donald Trump has had a very tough three weeks on the campaign trail, from a bad first debate to the "Access Hollywood" video to the recent flood of allegations that he groped and made unwanted sexual advances toward several women.

    And yet Trump trails Hillary Clinton by just four points in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll -- a number that is pretty par for the course for the 2016 election.

    But the Post-ABC poll also makes this clear about what Trump is up to these days: He's doing almost everything wrong, and he's doing nothing to grow his support and actually put himself in a position to win.

    To wit:

    - 57 percent of likely voters say his response to the "Access Hollywood" video of him making lewd and sexually aggressive comments about women was insincere. Just 40 percent say it was sincere.

    - 52 percent say his comments on tape aren't the brand of "locker room talk" that he and his supporters have routinely claimed. Just 40 percent say they are.

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There is something depressingly familiar in the stories of Trump's alleged groping

    The arm went around my shoulder. Then the hand began to creep, farther and farther, down the neckline of my dress. I was 20, at a fancy dinner for my college newspaper. The hand belonged to a grown-up -- make that supposedly grown-up -- editor. An editor from whom I wanted a summer job.

    I would like to tell you that I removed said hand and told its owner in no uncertain terms what he could do with it or, more to the point, couldn't. But I can't. My response, as I recall, involved some combination of resigned submission to this uninvited pawing and strategic wriggling out of reach.

    Reader, I got the job. I went on to enjoy a cordial professional relationship with this man. Neither one of us mentioned the incident. Alcohol was involved, and I suppose I chalked his misbehavior up to that. Making a fuss seemed unwarranted and, even more, self-defeating.

    The episode wasn't traumatic, not even close. Indeed, by the standards of the tens of thousands of tweets shared in recent days under the hashtag #notokay, it was mild.

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Their Dark Fantasies

    I’m a baby boomer, which means that I’m old enough to remember conservatives yelling “America — love it or leave it!” at people on the left who criticized racism and inequality. But that was a long time ago. These days, disdain for America — the America that actually exists, not an imaginary “real America” in which minorities and women know their place — is concentrated on the right.

    To be sure, progressives still see a lot wrong with the state of our society, and seek change. But they also celebrate the progress we have made, and for the most part the change they seek is incremental: It involves building on existing institutions, not burning everything down and starting over.

    On the right, however, you increasingly find prominent figures describing our society as a nightmarish dystopia.

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Our fading faith in democracy

    If there had been any doubt, it has now become clear that this election campaign is about more than the selection of a president: The values that support American democracy are deteriorating. Large numbers of Americans across party lines have lost faith in their democracy, and many will not accept the legitimacy of this election.

    Those were the stark findings from a survey we performed from Oct. 6 through Oct. 8 of more than 3,000 registered voters, fully 40 percent of whom say: "I have lost faith in American democracy." Six percent indicate they've never had faith in the system. Overall, barely more than half - just 52 percent - say, "I have faith in American democracy." (Most respondents completed the survey before the Oct. 7 release of the video in which Donald Trump bragged about groping women, but the responses of those surveyed afterward were indistinguishable from those who answered the day before.)

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For Democrats, Senate majority also is crucial

    If, as polls are indicating, Hillary Clinton is the next U.S. president -- the election forecaster Nate Silver says there's an 86 percent chance -- her initial years in office will depend less on the size and shape of her victory than on which party controls the Senate.

    Although the battle for control of the chamber, where Republicans currently have an advantage of 54 seats to 46, is pitched and close, some skeptics play down its significance: It takes 60 votes to pass substantive stuff in the Senate and neither party will be near that level. Moreover, Republicans likely will still control the House.

    But Senate control is crucial, especially for a Clinton presidency: The majority sets the agenda, decides which issues are taken up and which inquires or investigations are begun. Also, scores of executive branch and judicial appointments are at stake, as well as the leverage for a Democratic president dealing with a Republican-run House.

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Donald Trump, the Worst of America

    Donald Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive.

    There is something calamitous in the air that surrounds the campaign, a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach.

    As his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.

    Last week a steady stream of women stepped forward to accuse Trump of some form of sexual assault, abuse or inappropriate behavior. Trump’s response has been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.

    Instead, he is doubling down on sexism.

    On Thursday, Trump said of the People magazine reporter who accused him of forcibly kissing her: “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

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Can Donald Trump turn Bill Clinton into a 'Bill Cosby'?

    Can this presidential campaign get any weirder?

    Sensing nothing left to lose, according to reports, Republican hopeful Donald Trump's campaign is going for broke with a scorched earth strategy, intended to make a "Bill Cosby" out of Bill Clinton.

    Just as Cosby went from national hero to national pariah after a parade of women charged him with decades of sexually predatory acts, Team Trump hopes to do the same to the former president.

    Yes, I know, Bill Clinton's not running. His wife is. But the Trump campaign aims to smear her as an enabler of sexual violence.

    "We're going to turn him into Bill Cosby," Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon told Trump staffers, according to a report by Bloomberg's Josh Green -- who quotes two unnamed Trump advisers who were present. "He's a violent sexual predator who physically abuses women who he assaults. And she takes the lead on the intimidation of the victims."

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October 20th

Trump courts the fury of women voters

    Donald Trump already had political difficulties with women voters before his now-infamous banter about sexual assault went viral on the Internet. Now, as more women have stepped forward with specific allegations against him, he's encountered a wave of female revulsion that he may be unable to survive.

    Hillary Clinton promptly and predictably used the new revelations of her opponent's unsolicited groping and kissing to rally her millions of sisters to make her the first woman president. And she gained an impassioned alliance with first lady Michelle Obama.

    Obama's electrifying speech Thursday in New Hampshire called on women regardless of party to defend themselves against the behavior and the attitudes Trump alluded to in his marginalizing remarks caught on video.

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An unshackled Trump; an unmoored campaign, lurching to the finish line

    Donald Trump is not really running a campaign for president anymore. Instead, he is involved in an extended revenge plot or is simply following the politics of grievance to its natural, unseemly end.

    See, campaigns have a message. They have strategy and tactics. They show restraint and coordination.

    Trump, in the 10 days since the release of a hot-mic tape of him making lewd and sexually suggestive comments about women, has done none of those things. Literally none.

    The Washington Post's Jose Del Real counted more than 20 different messages from Trump during a five-minute span of a speech the Republican presidential nominee delivered in North Carolina last week. That was the same speech in which Trump took apart his teleprompters onstage -- one was malfunctioning -- and insisted that he would not pay the company that provided them. (This all happened on Earth in the year 2016.)

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