PowerLine -> Tax Reform is Already Working + Enjoying the Hollywood Meltdown

PowerLine -> Tax Reform is Already Working + Enjoying the Hollywood Meltdown

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest

  • Tax Reform is Already Working
  • Enjoying the Hollywood Meltdown
  • Germans Fear Tax Cut Will Spur US Investment and Growth
  • Why Chai?
  • Thank you…
Tax Reform is Already Working

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 04:41 PM PST

(Steven Hayward)The ink is barely dry on the president’s signature on the tax reform bill, and already positive results are being reported. One of the arguments of economists like my former colleague Kevin Hassett (now chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers) is that reducing the corporate tax rate would benefit workers wages. It has started to have this effect—today:

AT&T, Comcast giving $1,000 bonuses to hundreds of thousands of workers after tax bill

AT&T said in a press release Wednesday that it would give more than 200,000 of its U.S. workers who are union members a special bonus of $1,000. The company also increased its capital expenditures budget by $1 billion in the U.S. . .

Later in the afternoon, cable and media company Comcast NBCUniversal made a similar move: it announced it would give special $1,000 bonuses “[b]ased on the passage of tax reform and the FCC’s action on broadband.” Those bonuses would apply to more than 100,000 employees that are eligible and not in executive roles.

The company also made a big spending commitment to bolster its broadband plants, television and film production, and theme parks, pledging an outlay of at least $50 billion over the next five years.

Boeing, Wells Fargo, and Fifth Third Bancorp also announced major spending and investment plans on account of the tax bill.

I think this is what Trump calls winning. And Democrats are going to look foolish with their doom and gloom rhetoric and unanimous opposition.


Enjoying the Hollywood Meltdown

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 11:59 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)I’m starting to think the various entertainment awards shows that I usually avoid like the plague—the Golden Globes, the Emmys, and the Academy Awards—might well be worth watching this coming year, as the usual Hollywood hypocrisy and pretentiousness may well become so incoherent and overwrought that it will defy the best attempts at parody. The imperative is to attack Donald Trump, like last year’s shows, but the Weinstein-inspired Pervnado is impossible for Hollywood to ignore.

To the contrary, I expect supreme acts of contortion to blame Trump for Weinstein’s behavior and every other sexual predation dating back to Fred Flintstone in the Pleistocene. There are early reports that actresses will be wearing black as a symbol of some kind in the upcoming awards shows:

The Hollywood Reporter and other news outlets revealed last week that actresses are uniting in support of sexual-misconduct victims by wearing all black and more modest gowns to the year’s first big awards bash, the Golden Globes, on Jan. 7. . .

A Globes insider said the black-gown idea “started with the actresses who came together on this. But they aren’t in mourning. It’s a show of solidarity and sisterhood with women everywhere.”

I wonder—will their black gowns look something like this?

Probably not. The story did say “modest gowns.” There’s a problem, apparently—a shortage of suitably modest black gowns!

One concern among Hollywood celebrity stylists now is, how many black gowns do designers actually have on hand? The spring 2018 collections, which is what stylists would normally pull from, are all about lavender, pink, big florals, ethereal whites and art-infused prints.

I think they should all just come in full burkhas and get on with it since that is the final destination of things.

But this next step in Hollywood moral exhibitionism is causing some internal rifts, as the New York Post reports:

The black-gown movement was ripped by actress Rose McGowan, one of the first women to accuse pervy movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of assault — in her instance, an alleged rape.

“Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @Golden Globes,” McGowan tweeted, in reference to Weinstein.

“YOUR SILENCE is THE problem,” she said of Streep, who has said that she and others didn’t know about the producer’s predations.

“You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change,” the tweet continued.

McGowan concluded her screed by name-dropping the fashion brand of Weinstein’s now-estranged designer wife, Georgina Chapman: “I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.”

Meanwhile, an LA street artist (Sabo says it is not him) is making sure that the Roman Polanski-supporting Streep doesn’t get away easily:

Popcorn, please!


Germans Fear Tax Cut Will Spur US Investment and Growth

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 09:49 AM PST

(John Hinderaker)The Democrats in Congress and the press have frantically tried to convince the American people that cutting businesses taxes won’t do any good. This view is delusional, but we hear it so often it almost begins to sound plausible. Here is a contrary view from a different source, German industry: “Germans fear a huge loss of jobs from US tax reform.”

German investment in the US is expected to rise by €39 billion because of lower US corporate taxes.

While Americans are anxiously awaiting full details of the tax bill now being finalized in Congress, German economists are warning that the changes sought by President Donald Trump mean that significant amounts of new investment and jobs will shift from Europe to the United States.

“The tax competition will have a new dimension,” said Christoph Spengel, chairman of the corporate tax department at the University of Mannheim. Mr. Spengel, who is also a research associate at the Center for European Economic Research, and a group of tax experts at the university have done a detailed comparison of the two countries’ tax systems and published a reportunder the heading, “Germany loses out in US tax reform.”

Clemens Fuest, who heads the Ifo economic think tank, also said he believed German business would suffer. “Investments and jobs will migrate to the US,” he said.

The report itself is dense and technical, but interesting. A few readable excerpts:

Scholars and politicians from both US parties agree that the high statutory corporate income tax rate of up to 39% (35% federal rate) is a devastating factor in international tax competition and should therefore be decreased (see, e.g. Avi-Yonah and Mazzoni 2017, see Devereux et al. 2008 for an analysis of competition over tax rates).

Scholars certainly agree, but “politicians from both parties”? Someone better tell Nancy Pelosi.

When considering the changes in US outbound FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] and US inbound FDI, total investment within the US will increase more than in Europe once the tax reform is implemented. This means that despite the overall expansion after the US tax reform which is expected to foster FDI in all countries, the US will benefit disproportionally by additional inward FDI.

Which means that Europeans will be creating American jobs. Finally:

The expected significant reduction in the statutory federal corporate income tax rate from currently 35% to 20% [Ed.: The final rate was 21%] will presumably have a substantial impact on the location attractiveness of the US in global tax competition. As evident from Figure 6, the proposed corporate tax reform would improve the US competitive position relative to the EU Member States from being among the jurisdictions with the highest effective corporate tax burden to a jurisdiction with a comparatively moderate effective tax rate.

It is hard to understand how the Democrats can deny basic economic realities that European economists regard as virtually self-evident. That isn’t the Democrats’ biggest problem, though. They will really have a lot of explaining to do when a large majority of Americans see their paychecks increase in February.


Why Chai?

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 08:06 AM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)Christian Adams at PJ Media denounces the nomination of Chai Feldblum for another term as an EEOC commissioner. Christian writes:

Some Republicans, apparently including some inside the White House, think it’s fine to put an activist radical on the EEOC in order to get two more Republicans confirmed to the EEOC.

But Feldblum is no ordinary radical. As one lawyer familiar with EEOC practice tells me, “she’s worth three Republicans” because of her radicalism and willingness to fight to transform notions of gender, family, and life.

I agree. I worked for the EEOC in the late 1970s and have followed it pretty closely since. Except for Clarence Thomas, Feldblum is the most consequential EEOC commissioner of the past 40 years.

The very fact that President Trump renominated her can be viewed as evidence of her will and her canniness. It’s astonishing that a radical LGBT activist and Obama nominee who faced fierce resistance the first two times she was before the Senate was (is?) on the verge of being confirmed with virtually no fuss now that the White House and Senate are controlled by Republicans.

Adams offers two explanations both of which ring true, though, even combined, they may fall short of a full accounting.

First, ideological illiteracy is to blame. Too many Beltway insiders are illiterate when it comes to the radicalism of the Left, and in this case the radicalism of Feldblum. They don’t understand the zealous creative destruction that animates activists like Feldblum. They think two Republicans beat one Democrat. Paper covers rock. They don’t understand that radicals like Feldblum are soldiers in the “fundamental transformation” that was part of the Obama age.

Spot on.

Second, too many Republicans are still afraid of what Chuck Schumer and National Public Radio think. They aren’t following the cues of their president. They don’t know how to fight.

Right again.

Adams hints at an additional explanation — “a backstory that hasn’t been fully reported.” My sense is that a move as off-the-charts as the Feldblum renomination doesn’t happen without behind-the-scenes connections and manipulation.


Thank you…

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 06:41 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)Christian Toto is the proprietor of Hollywood in Toto. He posted his year-end 10-best list yesterday, with Thank You For Your Service leading the parade. Of the movies I saw in 2017, Thank You For Service was the only one that moved me, shook me up, taught me something I didn’t know and made me want to learn more, all while increasing my gratitude and respect for the service to which we pay tribute in the stock slogan that gives the movie its title.

Christian writes: “The film’s depiction of soldiers adjusting to civilian life proved brutal. We all need to see a movie like Service to understand the pressures they face once the shooting stops. Writer/director Jason Hall, who wrote American Sniper, expertly captured the emotions of the soldier re-integrating back into society.”

What a movie. “And yet,” he notes, “the movie tanked at the box office, topping out at a sad $9 million in U.S. sales.” It was a commercial flop.

I found Phillip Carter’s detailed review of the film for Slate true to what I saw in it: “Thank You offers a window into lives that most Americans never see, providing an almost visceral sense for what it was like to fight in Iraq and then come home to your afterwar.”

The film is based on Washington Post editor David Finkel’s book of the same title. It’s the second of two books Finkel wrote about the soldiers he met while embedded with the 2-16 Infantry Battalion during the surge; the first is The Good Soldiers.

I have hesitated to write about the film before I finished reading the book. I have a way to go. I’m only in chapter five but have been surprised to discover that some of the most haunting elements of the film are drawn from the book.

What’s wrong with the film? Among other things, for dramatic purposes, it depicts the Army as a villain. The Army denies the disorders with which the men struggle to come to terms. While seeking VA benefits in one scene, for example, an officer instructs one of the film’s protagonists that he shouldn’t be claiming disability because other soldiers might see his example and crack too. I didn’t believe it and found it annoying.

The veterans’ difficulty finding prompt and adequate medical care through the VA (featured in the film) is nevertheless a familiar plight. Reading Finkel’s book, one sees in the person of Army vice chief of staff Peter Chiarelli (now retired) how the Army itself has struggled to come to terms with the stress disorders that the film memorably brings to life. One leaves the film wanting to learn more and do right by those whom we formulaically thank for their service.

I want to add this note. Pathway Home is a residential treatment facility that figures prominently in the story. Reading the New York Times review of Thank You, I learned of the documentary Of Men and War (reviewed briefly here), which takes place almost entirely at Pathway Home. At the moment it is posted on YouTube and otherwise available.


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