Category Archives: Politics

Trump’s tax plan benefits — Trump. Surprised?

Now we know what Donald Trump, the presidential candidate who won’t release his own tax returns, wants to do about taxes: Cut them for people like himself.

His August speech in Detroit outlined his plans, which fall in line with what House Republicans, including zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan (thanks to Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce )have been promoting. Just three features to highlight:

Cut taxes to boost the after-tax income of middle-income families in the 40th to 60th percentile by 0.2% .

–Give the top 1% an after-tax boost more than 20 times larger–5.3%. Of course, in dollar amounts the tax breaks to the top 1% would dwarf what middle-class Americans receive.

–Eliminate the estate tax.

Let me be clear about the estate tax: You, dear reader, probably have nothing to fear from the estate tax. As The New York Times points out,the estate tax doesn’t even apply to 99.8% of all estates–only to those worth more than $5.4 million for an individual. With a modicum of planning, married couples get an exclusion of $10.9 million.

Think about that for a minute. $10.9 million. Do you think you know anyone who is going to be subject to the estate tax?

Wait. I know someone: Donald Trump. Trump’s tax plan is a tax plan for Trump. What a surprise.

Republican fantasy tax plans all “puppies and rainbows”

Let me paraphrase Josh Barro of The New York Times in summing up the tax talk you’re hearing in the Republican Presidential Debates: It’s all puppies and rainbows. As Barro points out here, Marco Rubio would eliminate all taxes on capital gains, which of course would benefit those in the U.S. who have accumulated the most… Continue Reading

IRS plays dead on campaign finance

Any small business that has been audited knows the IRS can be a junkyard dog when examining records for deductible meals, travel, mileage, and other business expenses. Not so when it comes to reviewing political organizations. As The New York Times summarizes, the IRS has pretty much rolled over on groups that use nonprofit “social… Continue Reading

Hastert and FIFA cases prove the oldest rule in the book: Follow the money!

What does Dennis Hastert’s indictment on apparently Very Very Bad Horrible Terrible Behavior (kudos to Kaili Joy Gray of Wonkette) and the FIFA bribery and kickback scandal (New York Times version here) have in common? They both in part involve people charged with trying to hide or disguise transfers of money—something that is of tremendous… Continue Reading

How your tax $$$ subsidize Walmart & McDonald’s

One more reason fast-food and other low-wage businesses are happy with the status quo on minimum wage: Your tax dollars help subsidize their chintzy wages, which often leave their workers on public assistance. As detailed in a University of California study and reported in The New York Times, around half of all home health care… Continue Reading

Joe’s op-ed in The Oregonian opposes Portland “street tax”

Here in Portland, the City Council is proposing a street fee in the form of a local income tax. I started adding up some of the fundamental problems I saw with the proposal, and wrote an op-ed for The Oregonian, “Eight Problems With Portland’s Proposed Street Tax.” The phrase, “the wheels have been greased on… Continue Reading

Multinationals seek tax heavens, er, havens . . . oh, what’s the diff?

More and more U.S.-based corporations are growing wings and flying away from their U.S. tax obligations. Bloomberg puts it as simply as possible: “U.S. companies looking for lower tax bills are heading for the exits, and Congress is doing nothing to stop them.” The immediate impetus for the story was Pfizer’s proposed purchase of AstraZeneca,… Continue Reading

Washington Post’s maps paint a fascinating – and unexpected – picture of the USA

The Washington Post’s “GovBeat” feature is doing some great work, including this story and link to 25 maps and charts of the United States (your first 10 stories a month at are free; then the paywall rises up.) One, “Finding America’s Uninsured,” (#23) shows that the national problem of people not having health insurance… Continue Reading