Thursday, January 25, 2018

Cruising the Web

This is the type of thinking that predominates when the Democrats control everything in a state. Two California Democratic state legislators are trying to figure out a way to get some of the money that people will be receiving from the GOP tax cut.
Calling the Trump administration’s tax reform plan a “middle-class tax increase,” two California lawmakers introduced a bill that would force large companies to fork over half of their expected savings to the state.

Assemblymen Kevin McCarty and Phil Ting, both Democrats, introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 22, which calls for a 10 percent surcharge on companies with net earnings over $1 million. The plan could potentially raise billions for the state's social services programs.

“It is unconscionable to force working families to pay the price for tax breaks and loopholes benefiting corporations and wealthy individuals,” Ting said in a statement, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. “This bill will help blunt the impact of the federal tax plan on everyday Californians by protecting funding for education, affordable health care and other core priorities.”

The paper reported that the two lawmakers face an uphill battle because Democrats in the state have lost their supermajority in the Legislature.

The Trump administration’s tax bill cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The administration contends that the lessened tax burden will stimulate the economy and help the U.S. stay competitive on a global scale.
Note how they assume that a federal tax cut means that fewer dollars will be heading to their state to fund the state's needs. Yeah, like such a plan will encourage businesses to remain in the state. Jazz Shaw comments,
As we discussed here previously, the only negative impact coming out of it will be the loss of part of the SALT deductions which can be taken by Californians earning a minimum of well over $150K. And even if they earn a quarter million the impact will be minimal. It’s further worth reminding them that the only reason their higher earners are in this boat to begin with is that California’s state taxes are astronomical. Also, giving “breaks” to corporations (read: employers) doesn’t affect California’s bottom line at all since we’re only talking about federal taxes.

The underlying reality here should be shocking to anyone who doesn’t actually live in California or New York. The federal government made a change to the tax code which would allow businesses to pay a lower rate, thereby saving them some money. The state of California wants to make sure that nobody pays lower taxes (even though the money isn’t coming out of their coffers) so they’re going to try to confiscate the savings. This is, to put it in the simplest terms possible, highway robbery, only using the legislative pen rather than a gun.

At some point, you have to ask why anyone puts up with all of this and keeps doing business in California. The mask has been fully pulled away this month and business owners should be forced to face up to the facts. Their own state government pretty much hates them and will take any opportunity possible to rip them off. There are so many more business friendly states out there where they would probably flourish.
It's all part of the thinking that money earned by a business is not the money of the business owners, but of the state and the government has the right, nay the responsibility, to take it from you to fund programs to win voters so that the politicians can be reelected.

Even Jerry Brown is starting to worry that California's policies are going to hurt the state.
Introducing his state budget proposal earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown said out loud what many legislators in Sacramento fear: That California’s highly progressive income tax may be unsustainable in the wake of the Republican tax bill signed in December by President Donald Trump.

“People with higher incomes pay a lot more money, and some of them may be tempted to leave,” Brown said.

California is unusually reliant on income tax to fund the state’s $183 billion budget. And almost half of state income taxes are paid by the wealthiest 1 percent of earners, for whom the top marginal rate is 12.3 percent, with an additional 1 percent charge on incomes over $1 million.

Most people in this group should benefit directly or indirectly from the cuts in individual and corporate rates in the Republican federal tax legislation. But the law also limited deductibility of mortgage interest and of state and local taxes, effectively transferring billions from wealthy taxpayers in high-tax blue states to wealthy individuals in low-tax red states. According to one study, about 38 percent of Californians in the top 1 percent, earning more than $877,560, will pay higher taxes under the GOP plan, as will about one quarter of upper-middle-class Californians earning from $130,820 to $304,630.
The article goes on to point out that some economists think that millionaires are actually less likely to move out of a high state because they're living where they want to and where they built their wealth. Their spouses and children might not want them to move. But others might choose to move.
While millionaires are inclined to stay put, the stress point may be significantly lower for the merely affluent, who have less of a cushion against higher taxes and the state’s already high cost of living. Upper-middle-class taxpayers may be the real source of vulnerability for California.

There’s no good way to reimburse such taxpayers on the higher taxes they’ll pay to the federal government. And unlike paying higher taxes to strengthen the safety net or build infrastructure or improve education, there’s no psychic benefit to paying more so that people far wealthier than yourself can pay less.

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Ben Shapiro discusses the idea, so prevalent on the left, that any speech offensive to anyone should be banned.
Any statement — any statement — must be gauged not only on the basis of its truth-value, according to the Left, but on the basis of whether such truth is likely to offend — or, at last, whether such truth is likely to offend groups the Left perceives as victimized. According to the Left, any and all truth must take a back seat to “your truth,” so long as you claim minority status in any way.

There’s heavy irony to the fact that Victorian prudishness of manners suddenly abounds on the same Left that champions wearing pussyhats and shouting its abortions. But it’s that Victorian prudishness that tends to win the day — or at least has, for the past several decades. Perhaps that’s because many on the right tend to value manners; good religious men and women studiously avoid causing offense if they have the capacity to do so. It’s worked, too. The Left has wielded the Right’s preference for manners as a club against the Right, claiming offense in order to cow them into silence.

Of late, however, the Left has simply gone too far. No longer do they ask whether objectively offensive statements ought to be made; they now take each statement and ask whether it is subjectively offensive to anyone. First person to claim offense wins. Which is precisely why Peterson’s logic trips up Newman: He plays her own card against her. By demonstrating that anyone can be offended by anything, he returns the conversation from the vague recesses of subjective reaction to the hard and fast ground of objective truth.

This is the ground on which conservatives should fight, of course: acknowledgement that while manners matter, truth matters more. Unfortunately, too many conservatives have responded to Leftist censorship not with truth-above-manners politeness, but with theatrical displays of unconcern with manners themselves. Rudeness is now seen as a substitute for facts. If the Left uses manners as a weapon, the logic goes, let’s just discard manners altogether.

But there’s no reason to do that. We all ought to behave with decency and truth. Those are the twin pillars of conservatism, after all: virtue and reason. Discarding reason undermines virtue by replacing virtue with emotion-based reactivity; discarding virtue undermines the social fabric necessary to undergird the effectiveness of reason. Yes, let’s behave with manners. But let’s recognize that only a society that values truth can afford manners.
Exactly. This is not hard to understand. I'm so sick of the idea that people have a right to not be offended.

Remember when we used to be all wound up about private citizens meeting with foreign leaders or their representatives in possible violation of the Logan Act? Well, that's so yesterday. Now John Kerry is purportedly sending messages to Maymoud Abbas to hold on during Trump's presidency.
hile the White House confirms that since the "Jerusalem Declaration" there has been a complete disconnect between the Palestinian Authority and the Trump administration, it turns out that the previous administration actually maintains contact with PA officials. Ma'ariv reported that former US Secretary of State John Kerry met in London with a close associate of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Hussein Agha, for a long and open conversation about a variety of topics. Agha apparently reported details of the conversation to senior PA officials in Ramallah. A senior PA official confirmed to Ma'ariv that the meeting took place....

During the conversation, according to the report, Kerry asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to "hold on and be strong." Tell him, he told Agha, "that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump's demands." According to Kerry, Trump will not remain in office for a long time. It was reported that within a year there was a good chance that Trump would not be in the White House.

Kerry offered his help to the Palestinians in an effort to advance the peace process and recommended that Abbas present his own peace plan. "Maybe it is time for the Palestinians to define their peace principles and present a positive plan," Kerry suggested. He promised to use all his contacts and all his abilities to get support for such a plan. He asked Abbas, through Agha, not to attack the US or the Trump administration, but to concentrate on personal attacks on Trump himself, whom Kerry says is solely and directly responsible for the situation.

According to the report, referring to the president, Kerry used derogatory terms and even worse. Kerry offered to help create an alternative peace initiative and promised to help garner international support, among others, of Europeans, Arab states and the international community.
So Kerry is encouraging a leader of what is basically a terrorist organization to hold on because he's so angry about Trump's foreign policy? That is about what we might expect from the guy who negotiated all the giveaways to Iran in exchange for a bunch of empty promises. And now, he's supposedly pondering running for president in 2020.
He surprised his interlocutor by saying he was seriously considering running for president in 2020. When asked about his advanced age, he said he was not much older than Trump and would not have an age problem.
Is there any Democrat not considering running for president? This guy was one of the worst secretaries of state this country has ever had. But his self-regard is so high that he will never admit what a disaster the Iran deal was. If he really thinks what the Democrats need is a reprise of Kerry's 2004 candidacy, he is seriously deluded.

This is Mahmoud Abbas, the guy to whom Kerry is sending friendly messages.
In a two-hour speech before the Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) last week, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, denounced the British, Dutch, French, and Americans for having conspired, ever since the 1650s, to create a Jewish colonial outpost that would “erase the Palestinians from Palestine.” As Abbas tells it, all this reached a climax on the eve of World War I, when the West realized that it was on the verge of collapse and that the Islamic world was “poised to inherit European civilization.” To put an end to this threat, the Western nations went about carving up the Muslim world so that it would be forever “divided, backward, and engulfed in infighting.” As for the United States, it has been “playing games” of this sort ever since then, importing, for example, the disastrous Arab Spring into Middle East.

Abbas summed up by demanding an apology and reparations from Britain for the Balfour Declaration and denying that the United States can serve as a mediator in the Mideast. Finally, he went to the trouble of cursing both President Trump and the U.S. Congress: Yehrab beitak (“May your house be razed”), he said.

I have been following the speeches of the PLO and its supporters in the Arab world for 30 years. Nothing here is new. These are the same things that Yasser Arafat, Abbas, and the mainline PLO leadership have always believed. It is a worldview that reflects an abiding hatred for the West, blaming Christians and Jews not only for the founding of Israel but for every calamity that has befallen the Muslim and Arab world for centuries.

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The Onion gets it. And they take a swipe at the obvious political ambitions of Cory Booker.
“I want all Dreamers to know that while times are tough right now, and it may be difficult to envision the day when I’ve secured enough primary votes to become the nominee, they should not give up hope. I voted against this stopgap funding bill, just as I will vote against any bill that would do anything to decrease my chances of becoming the 46th president of the United States.” At press time, Booker, Harris, and Warren were leading a rally on the Capitol steps calling for a legislative solution that once and for all would resolve their status as frontrunners for their party’s nomination.

The horror of the GOP tax bill never ends.
Verizon says many workers will receive shares of stock Verizon says many workers will receive shares of stock
23 Hours Ago | 00:38
Verizon says employees, other than top management, will receive 50 shares of restricted stock, the price of which will be set on February 1.

About 155,000 employees will be affected, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam told CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report" on Tuesday.

The award could total over $400 million, based on Verizon's current share price. Shares traded around $53 a share on Tuesday, down from a fresh 52-week intraday high of $54.60 after quarterly earnings were released.

The announcement comes after Verizon hinted in its morning earnings report that "employees will further share in the company's success" around tax reform. Verizon expects savings from tax reform will add $3.5 billion to $4 billion to its operating cash flow this year, boosting earnings by 55 to 65 cents a share for the full year.

"I just left the employee meeting where we decided what we were going to do with the $3.5 billion to $4 billion," McAdam said.

That's on top of a previously announced one-time increase of about $16.8 billion under the new tax scheme.

The company also plans to put money into dividends, paying down debt, philanthropy and investing in the network. Verizon is still figuring out the details of some teed-up projects, McAdam said.

"What tax reform allows is for us to go hard when we get the results we're expecting," McAdam said.
but, wait, wait! That's not all.
Starbucks said Wednesday it will increase wages and enact other perks for more than 150,000 U.S. employees as a direct result of recent tax reform, joining other corporations in rewarding workers.

The Seattle-based coffee chain is giving all of its U.S.-based hourly and salaried workers an unspecified raise in April, in addition to a wage increase already dispersed earlier in the Starbucks’ fiscal year, which began last October. Starbucks says it is investing roughly $120 million in the wage increases.

Starbucks is also awarding workers stock grants worth a total of more than $100 million to those employed by the chain as of Jan. 1, 2018. Retail employees will receive at least a $500 grant, while store managers will receive grants of $2,000, the chain said.
Who would think that Starbucks, of all companies, would be basically endorsing a Republican policy?

And get this statement by a Bank of America executive.
s Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan travels the world in 2018, he says he keeps hearing the same thing over and over: Foreign businesses want to pump money into the United States again after President Trump’s tax cuts. Like the White House, he thinks the positive bounce from the tax bill could be far bigger than most experts predict.

There's growing cohesion among executives — cutting across industry and even geography — that Trump's tax plan is going to deliver massive new investment in the United States, which should, in turn, boost growth and employment.

At an annual gathering of top business and political leaders in Davos, CEOs are actively selling the Trump tax plan to skeptics and fighting back on the public perception that the Republican tax bill was just for the rich.

“Think about large global companies: They can go anywhere. They think the U.S. is the place to talk about investing in the next 12 to 18 months,” Moynihan said Tuesday in Davos.

Blackstone chief executive Steve Schwarzman, Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam and NASDAQ chief executive Adena Friedman said they, too, were hearing about more plans to invest in the United States now.

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