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Trump offers himself a tax cut –> In its fervor to get something done that can be waved before cable news — now in the midst of endless coverage of Trump’s “first 100 days” — the White House rolled out a tax plan yesterday. “Its centerpiece is a giant cut to the corporate tax rate, dropping it from 35 percent to 15 percent,” Jeff Spross reports for The Week. The plan, however, would blow a huge hole in the deficit — so it’s unlikely the plan will get too far toward becoming a law.
Conservative tax plans tend to embrace the idea of closing corporate tax loopholes — which bring the average corporate tax, in reality, down to 25.4 percent — while cutting the overall rate. Trump’s plan, however, is overzealous with the cuts, Spross explains: “If the average corporation in the US pays 25.4 percent when you account for loopholes, there’s no way to cut the top statutory rate to 15 percent and still keep the same level of revenue. Hence, Trump’s proposal is likely D.O.A.”
This tax plan, however, would be enormously helpful to Trump himself, economist Dean Baker writes. His proposal to limit the alternative minimum tax and cut taxes on income received through pass-through corporations “could net him hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade,” Baker explains.
The plan would also penalize blue states that already have high taxes. “A tax cut plan proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration Wednesday would eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes,” Jonathan Salant reports for The Newark Star-Ledger. This would be a “blow to New Jersey residents who pay the highest property taxes in the nation” — and seems aimed at pressuring local and state governments to cut taxes.
The plan actually exacerbates inequality says Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on the PBS NewsHour. Bernstein argues that the incentive is huge for high earners to incorporate to take advantage of the new corporate rates. In addition, Bernstein says there is “not a shred” of evidence that tax cuts will offset the loss in revenue.
Big telecom’s big moment –> FCC Chairman Ajit Pai outlined his plan to roll back net neutrality protections yesterday during a speech at the one-time tea party-aligned nonprofit FreedomWorks. The plan would allow internet service providers — who already have a monopoly in many areas — to, in effect, self-regulate in deciding what their users see on the internet and how quickly the data from sites reaches users. (We have a primer on our site.) Watchdog groups like Free Press support net neutrality — but tech companies, like Google, Facebook and Netflix also like it, and have, in the past, employed their lobbying muscle to protect it.
Pai’s speech, Libby Watson writes for Gizmodo, “was just a tiny bit weird. He attacked the advocacy group Free Press, one of net neutrality’s strongest supporters, and complained of a ‘larger movement’ against ‘free speech,’ criticizing ‘efforts to banish those who express unpopular views online.’ (He didn’t specify who — Nazis? Milo Yiannopolous? Bill Kristol?) Pai even name-checked the Drudge Report, saying, ‘members of the Federal Election Commission seek to restrict political speech and regulate online platforms like the Drudge Report.'”
Threat or promise? –> Trump threateningly brandished an executive order that would pull the US out of NAFTA on Wednesday — a move many saw as designed to gain leverage in trade talks with Canada and Mexico. (The US recently imposed tariffs on Canadian lumber after Canada stopped importing some American milk.) The fact that the order exists is a victory for Trump’s nationalist advisors, including Steve Bannon and National Trade Council chief Peter Navarro, who drafted the order, Rosie Gray reports for The Atlantic. Late yesterday, Trump walked back his threats, saying for now he’d be willing to renegotiate NAFTA, instead of bailing entirely.
Crying foul –> The latest suit of many to challenge corruption in the Trump administration comes from the watchdog group Free Speech for People, who have flagged a $500,000 donation given by Citgo to President Trump’s inaugural committee. Huge donations to these committees are allowed — but Citgo is fully owned by the Venezuelan government (which, by the way, could probably have put that money to a different, better use?). Foreign governments are barred from donating directly to inaugural committees.
Insidious new government office –> Yesterday morning, the Trump administration rolled out a new branch of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency called VOICE — the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office. The agency, Rafi Schwartz reports for Fusion, says its new office is meant to “serve the needs of crime victims and their families who have been impacted by crimes committed by removable criminal aliens.” This, despite the fact that study after study has found that immigrants commit crimes at far lower rates than American citizens.
It wasn’t long before people were calling the phone line to report crimes committed against them by aliens — green ones, from space.
We produce this news digest every weekday. You canto receive these updates as an email.