Archive

October 29th, 2016

It's time to go after tax-dodging companies

    Front and center in the presidential campaign is tax avoidance by very wealthy individuals such as Donald Trump and highly profitable corporations such as Apple.

    Use of unjustified tax loopholes by individuals and tax havens by multinational corporations has been tolerated for too long. Trump's tax-avoidance schemes will remain at least partially hidden as long as he gets away with keeping his tax returns secret. But Apple's tax gimmicks are well known.

    The profits from Apple's overseas sales of products designed and developed in the United States should be taxed in the United States. But Apple has until now dodged such U.S. taxes by transferring the rights to its intellectual property to itself in Ireland, through shell "subsidiaries" with few employees and little physical presence or tangible economic activity.

    Apple even had the chutzpah to claim those Irish subsidiaries had no obligation to pay taxes anywhere, other than the token less than 1 percent it paid to Ireland under a special arrangement.

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Dear Republican Voters...

    You are a Republican.

    You believe President Barack Obama has been a disappointment if not a failure. You think Hillary Clinton is wrong on most issues, and you worry about her judgment.

    You are agonizing about what to do this year, and I understand why. Donald Trump is clearly distasteful. Yet he at least seems likely to appoint conservative judges and sign Republican bills. So what are you supposed to do?

    Allow me to tell you about my grandparents.

    They grew up as middle-class children of the Depression in Philadelphia. My grandmother was a star athlete who went on to raise a tightly knit family filled with laughter. My outgoing grandfather first sold pens door to door and later sold ads for The Saturday Evening Post and Business Week.

    My grandparents believed in American business, and they were small-c conservative. They voted Republican, year after year.

    Until 1964.

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Why voters want Trump is a question deserving serious reflection

    With Donald Trump's chances of winning the White House narrowing, it's not too soon to ask: If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in November, what attitude should Democrats and Republicans alike take toward Trump voters? It will be tempting to excoriate or patronize them, or to woo them to your cause. But all of these approaches would be mistaken. A much better strategy -- for both parties -- is to engage in selective memory, and to treat Trump voters as though the whole sorry episode of his candidacy never occurred.

    That may seem counterintuitive, especially because there's no doubt that Trump's candidacy shows the system needs fixing. But it's based on the solid intuition that Trump voters, many of them alienated already from mainstream party politics, will only be further alienated by anything that associates them with a candidate whose brand was victory and who delivered defeat.

    Even assuming a convincing Clinton win, many, many Americans are going to vote for Trump on Nov. 8. They will do so for various reasons, and I don't want to make the mistake of assuming that those reasons can be captured in a few sentences.

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October 28th

As Donald Trump stares a loss in the face, even his favorite lies are failing him

    Donald Trump has begun to contemplate the unthinkable: he might lose. At a rally in Florida on Sunday, Trump lapsed into an uncharacteristic moment of self-doubt, diverging from his script to wonder aloud whether running for president was a good idea: "I'll let you know on the evening of November 8th." And two days earlier, Trump actually uttered the words, "if I lose. . ." before trailing off.

    Nonetheless, Trump continues to repeat his favorite lies with supreme confidence in their effectiveness. In his last few appearances, Trump again claimed that rampant voter fraud ensures a rigged election, that the media is in on the conspiracy to rig the outcome, that Clinton is physically weaker and sicker than we all think she is, and that Clinton has been allowed to skate on lawbreaking that should have disqualified her from running at all.

    New polling from ABC News suggests these lies are failing him.

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Why is Trump rooting against U.S. troops in Mosul?

    For months, Donald Trump has been promising to be tough on the Islamic State and has criticized the Obama administration for not taking the fight to the terrorists. Now that the battle of Mosul is underway, Trump has become a cheerleader for the failure of the mission while promoting a conspiracy theory that it's all about him.

    On Sunday, Trump tweeted that the ongoing Iraqi-led offensive against the Islamic State's stronghold in Mosul was failing:

    "The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster. We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb. VOTE TRUMP and WIN AGAIN!"

    Monday morning, in an interview with Pat Robertson on "The 700 Club," Trump doubled down on his prediction that the U.S. and allied coalition in Mosul will fail. He repeated his claim that tens of thousands of Iraqi, Kurdish and allied forces should have done a "sneak attack," on Mosul, which is obviously impossible given the size of the mission and the nature of the battlefield there.

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Trump is not a GOP aberration

    The lies and distortions that Donald Trump's campaign messengers deploy to rationalize their candidate's outrageousness are more typical of the last couple of decades of our politics than we'd like to admit.

     Especially revealing and infuriating are the efforts to use Al Gore as a human shield against the public indignation Trump aroused by refusing to say whether he would accept the verdict of a democratic election. To compare what Gore did in the aftermath of the contested 2000 election with what Trump is doing now is like analogizing a fire marshal investigating the causes of a blaze to an arsonist.

    But first, the larger lesson. As Trump has plummeted in the polls, more conventional Republicans who thought they could get away with supporting him have tried to pretend that Trump and his message were foisted on them from some distant planet.

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Time Warner's boss wants out of cable. Should you?

    He is the least sentimental of the media moguls, known for being a dispassionate judge of a business's worth. And now he wants to sell Time Warner. Maybe we should be listening to what Jeff Bewkes is telling us.

    Sure, there are lots of other things one can discuss regarding the AT&T-Time Warner deal: AT&T's plan for a 5G-wireless world in which anybody can watch anything they want from anywhere on their mobile devices, the chances that antitrust regulators will decide that enough is enough, AT&T's giant debt load, Dallas's prospects of becoming a glittering media capital.

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The GOP is breaking. It's not Trump's fault.

    We now have something like consensus: The rise of Donald Trump portends the end of the Republican Party as we know it. As longtime GOP operative and commentator Steve Schmidt said last week, "The Republican Party has an outstanding chance of fracturing." Trump's opponents, inside and outside the party, are united in the belief that he has almost single-handedly undone an institution founded on the eve of the Civil War that has lasted for more than 150 years and has immeasurably shaped the United States.

    But this gives Trump too much credit - credit that he might of course welcome and relish, but too much nonetheless. Several times in American history, political parties have collapsed or radically realigned. And while prominent individuals hastened those developments, in each case it was the product of dramatic changes over the previous years. The "Trump did it" view is classic Great Man History - the idea that human events are driven by pivotal men (yes, usually men till only recently) steering society. It's also wrong. Previous examples of party crackups show why.

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Seven score and 13 years later, Trump, at Gettysburg, impersonates Lincoln

    Can she get anything done? That's the question now that nearly every poll shows Hillary Clinton winning the presidency and the Republicans holding on to the House, albeit with a weaker hand.

    Even if the Democrats take control of the Senate -- a strong possibility though not a certainty -- House Republicans could block Clinton's agenda of taxing the wealthy to finance new spending plans; liberalizing immigration, and tightening gun controls.

    A Democratic Senate would quickly confirm her choices for judges, including filling the long-vacant Supreme Court seat for which President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland in March. She would also have slight leverage on some routine spending bills. She could follow Obama's lead and use executive actions to expand gun control limits, for example, or stop corporations from moving their tax headquarters abroad. Accomplishing much more is wishful thinking.

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How Clinton and Ryan could find common ground

    Can she get anything done? That's the question now that nearly every poll shows Hillary Clinton winning the presidency and the Republicans holding on to the House, albeit with a weaker hand.

    Even if the Democrats take control of the Senate -- a strong possibility though not a certainty -- House Republicans could block Clinton's agenda of taxing the wealthy to finance new spending plans; liberalizing immigration, and tightening gun controls.

    A Democratic Senate would quickly confirm her choices for judges, including filling the long-vacant Supreme Court seat for which President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland in March. She would also have slight leverage on some routine spending bills. She could follow Obama's lead and use executive actions to expand gun control limits, for example, or stop corporations from moving their tax headquarters abroad. Accomplishing much more is wishful thinking.

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