No, Virginia, Tax Giveaways To The 1 % Don’t Work

Just a check in on the astonishing economy building super duper special magical powers of GOP TAX CUT POTION™.

Spoiler: it works just as well as the utter, don’t-let-the-pointy-heads-at-the-FDA-f**k-up-a-good-thing  quackery Orrin Hatch has spent so long protecting.

The latest by Dean Baker:

The ostensible rationale for the big cut in the corporate tax rate that was at the center of the tax cut is that it will lead to a flood of new investment.

Since the outlines of the tax cut had been known since September, businesses had plenty of time to plan how they would respond to lower tax rates. If lower rates really produce a flood of investment we should at least begin to see some sign in new orders once the tax cut was certain to pass.

The January report showed orders actually fell modestly for the second consecutive month. The drop occurs both including and excluding volatile aircraft orders. While this is far from conclusive, it is hard to reconcile with the view that lower taxes would lead to a flood of new investment.

Remarkably, these new data have gotten almost no attention from the media. Both the NYT and the Washington Post ran an AP story that just noted the drop in passing. Doesn’t anyone care if the tax cut works?

As everyone who wasn’t a Republican and or a CEO said, the tax bill was a sham, a way to transfer yet more wealth from labor to capital, from most of us to a very few, already hugely rich.

Image: Reginald Gray, The Banker, Smoking, 2002.

 

 

97 replies
  1. 1
    TenguPhule says:

    Doesn’t anyone care if the tax cut works?

    Tax cuts can never fail. Tax cuts can only be failed.

  2. 2
    eclare says:

    I worked in corporate tax for about twenty years, corporations did not need a tax cut. It was always BS and failed simple math: if the government reduces the rate, the government gets lower revenue. I guess we’re all Kansas now.

  3. 3
    Roger Moore says:

    Doesn’t anyone care if the tax cut works?

    Everyone knows the real point was to give a bunch of money to the rich; the rest of that stuff was just a bunch of PR puffery. That the media isn’t reporting on whether it served its ostensible goals just proves they’re in on the scam.

  4. 4
    The Dangerman says:

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
    Everybody knows the war is over
    Everybody knows the good guys lost
    Everybody knows the fight was fixed
    The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
    That’s how it goes
    Everybody knows (Leonard Cohen)

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Yep. The tax cut “worked” because it gave massive tax cuts to rich people. Anyone who believed it was meant to do otherwise is too stupid to live. Even Laffer doesn’t believe in his own curve anymore.

  6. 6
    Thoughtful David says:

    The fvcking msm never point out these kinds of failures. It’s part of their high Broderism: if one side is consistently wrong, you can’t say anything about it because you don’t have anything to “balance” it with from the other side.
    If they took their responsibility to educate their readers anywhere seriously, we wouldn’t have climate deniers and Kansas would be a laughingstock and we wouldn’t have Trump.

  7. 7
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Even Laffer doesn’t believe in his own curve anymore.

    I wish this was true. He’s still fucking promoting it.

  8. 8
    kindness says:

    Well there should be more pitchforks & torch baring mobs out there.

    But we have kids doing it for us now. We are lazy ass shits I tell you.

  9. 9
    dmsilev says:

    @Mnemosyne: I look at some of the Republicans who have spent the last couple of days wondering aloud about why the Miraculous Tax Bill didn’t save the day in PA-18, and I think some of them really do believe that it was going to be wildly popular. Most are knowingly running the con game of course, but by now there are some who are, as you put it, too stupid to live.

  10. 10
    NotMax says:

    Obviously didn’t give enough to the 1%.

  11. 11
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    CEOs should be taxed until they bleed. Then taxed some more.

    Fuck, Adam Smith figured this out over two centuries ago.

  12. 12
    West of the Cascades says:

    Although it’s almost certainly true that the tax cuts aren’t having their asserted benefit, it’s pretty weak to be arguing that from a single month of data from January 2018. Yes, the outline of the cuts were known in September, but the bill wasn’t passed until December 20th, and few corporations are going to start making investments based on potential tax cuts until that’s a done deal. There was a lot of kabuki theater by Collins et al. about opposing it, so it would not be surprising to not see any effect of the tax cut bill on durable goods orders the month after the bill passed.

    Again – to be clear – I don’t think the tax bill could possibly have the effect on investment that the Republicans used to justify it – but one month’s data doesn’t prove that.

  13. 13
    TenguPhule says:

    @dmsilev:

    , but by now there are some who are, as you put it, too stupid to live.

    And most of them are Republicans in the House of Representatives, with a bunch more in the Senate.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Thoughtful David: Hence my nym.

    Wipe them out. All of them.

  15. 15
    p.a. says:

    The graph shows that, at least until top marginal tax rates get somewhere above 50% (a bit more precision available here), increasing those rates does not correlate with slower economic growth, but rather with faster increases in real GDP. In fact, raising top marginal tax rates doesn’t have many of the effects many people seem to expect (And incidentally, its worth noting that state level data also produces results the Chicago school and most libertarians don’t expect.)

    Now, the reason I mention the data’s irresponsible failure to abide by conservative and/or libertarian philosophies when it comes to tax rates and growth is because I think the relationship between tax rates and economic growth can be at least partly explained by the relationship between tax rates and investment. As I stated here, in my opinion, higher tax rates can lead to more investment. After all, one way a person who owns a business (large or small) can reduce the taxes they pay on profits is to reinvest the profits, which in turn leads to faster economic expansion.

  16. 16
    TenguPhule says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    CEOs should be taxed until they bleed. Then taxed some more.

    Human plasma now retails for about $30 a pint from the source.

  17. 17
    oatler. says:

    Find out where they live. So we can, uh, reprimand them.

  18. 18
    divF says:

    Tom, I got an e-mail last week from the UC Berkeley Center for Chinese Studies, reminding people of awards and fellowships, including “the Joseph R. Levenson Chinese Studies Awards”. Is that your father ?

    ETA: No, I’m not a Chinese scholar, the e-mail was sent to all the grad student affairs office email lists.

  19. 19
    p.a. says:

    I hate fucking ios and the inability to edit links in the link box to delete the supurfluous http://.

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @dmsilev:

    Most are knowingly running the con game of course, but by now there are some who are, as you put it, too stupid to live.

    I think you have the proportions wrong. Back in the era of Reagan, the people selling tax cuts by claiming they’d boost the economy were knowing liars. But a good fraction of the Republicans in Congress grew up under Reagan or even more recently, so they became Republicans because they believed the lie. That means a large chunk of the party are true believers.

  21. 21
    satby says:

    @p.a.: link not working?

  22. 22
  23. 23
    ET says:

    Totally OT but Don Jr’s wife filed for divorce.

    I should add that he is following I dad’s footsteps.

  24. 24
    p.a. says:

    @satby: I was trying to use the ‘link’ button, but ipad won’t put a cursor in the link box to delete the provided ‘http://‘ default. I have to enter the link into the main comment then edit, but I can never remember whether the “ belongs at front of the link text or not. 1st world problem, for sure.

  25. 25
    Steeplejack says:

    @West of the Cascades:

    Yes, the outline of the cuts [was] known in September, but the bill wasn’t passed until December 20th, and few corporations are going to start making investments based on potential tax cuts until that’s a done deal.

    Jeepers, too soon for corporate investment to start ramping up, but apparently not too soon to decide on huge stock buybacks at a record pace—$170.8 billion just from January 1 to mid-February.

    The boom, fueled by tax law changes, could help boost stock prices, as companies buy in their shares and the smaller float of outstanding shares helps their already rising earnings.

  26. 26
    satby says:

    @p.a.: if it helps, what I do is just highlight the default http and paste over it with the full link, which replaces it. And thanks, I was just reading your link. Good analysis there.

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    @p.a.:
    I think there’s a bigger reason increased tax rates are correlated with faster growth: there’s more than one limit on investment. The classic assumption is the limit on investment is how much money is available to invest. But there’s also the potential limit of having not enough places to invest because there aren’t enough people buying. We’re so used to thinking about available resources being the limit, but there’s a lot of indications (e.g. companies holding onto massive bundles of cash) that we’ve moved into the realm of there being too few promising investments. If that’s the case, we can probably improve things by taxing the hell out of the people sitting on cash and using the money to build new stuff or even to give it to people who are apt to spend it.

  28. 28
    Tom Levenson says:

    @divF: yup. That’s dad. I’ll write about him here sometime.

  29. 29
    Mary G says:

    O/T, but when did that ever stop me. I love this tweet from yesterday, and apologize if someone posted it and I missed it.

    Fun PA-18 voting anecdote for y'all: I had the privilege of witnessing an 18 year old ride his bike 2+ miles while it was snowing in order to vote for Conor Lamb in his first special election. His mother wouldn't drive him because she didn't agree with his intended vote.— Katers (@katerstots) March 14, 2018

    And it was down in a “holler” so he rode the 2 miles back home up a steep hill. Love these kids.

  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That the media isn’t reporting on whether it served its ostensible goals just proves they’re in on the scam.

    The media has been both pretty honest and fairly accurate about the Trump tax bullshit. Taxes and economics are complex. Most people don’t pay attention. They just want to hear simplistic shit about booms and busts and tax cuts and Dow Jones Up, Dow Jones Down.

    And again, people are not babies dependent on main street media pablum. Google “impact of tax cuts” takes you to every freaking tax and accounting news site, which have been remarkably consistent in detailing the potential negative impact of Trump’s folly. And they have been clear in how some corporations are immediately benefiting. Paying pittances in bonuses, and then laying people off or buying back their stock.

    There was even a story this morning about how Sears is eking out a small profit because of the tax cut.

    Even Laffer doesn’t believe in his own curve anymore.

    Isn’t this Ludlow jerk Trump just appointed a big believer in Laffer’s bullshit?

    ETA: One thing you are not hearing is about how changes to individual taxes will take credits away from undocumented families who use ITINs for filing. They will be turned into 3rd class pseudo-citizens and fucking crushed because they no longer qualify for the Child Tax Credit. Meanwhile, the income threshold was raised so that wealthier families can now qualify for the credit.

    A tax preparer friend did a projection for one of his clients in this situation, who earned about $30,000 with two kids and saw that he would owe an additional $1,023 because of lost credits. The idea appears to be to try to drive these people underground.

  31. 31
    Mandalay says:

    @Steeplejack: Exactly. Plus, nobody could have predicted…

    Businesses are going to spend their big tax cut savings on investors, new equipment, getting out of debt and buying other companies…

    Only 13% of companies’ tax cut savings will go to pay raises, bonuses and employee benefits, according to a survey of Morgan Stanley analysts released Thursday. 43% will go to investors in the form of stock buybacks and dividends, the analysts predict.

  32. 32
    p.a. says:

    @Roger Moore: Interesting. That may be the most 1st world problem ever: We have all this money but nothing promising to do with it!!!

    If that’s the case, we can probably improve things by taxing the hell out of the people sitting on cash and using the money to build new stuff or even to give it to people who are apt to spend it.

    Aye, there’s the rub.

  33. 33
    Fair Economist says:

    @p.a.:

    After all, one way a person who owns a business (large or small) can reduce the taxes they pay on profits is to reinvest the profits, which in turn leads to faster economic expansion.

    Dingdingding! We have a winner!

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TenguPhule:

    I wish this was true. He’s still fucking promoting it.

    Andrew Wakefield is still promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism despite having his medical license revoked for lying about it. Grifters promote the thing that makes them money because that’s what grifters do.

  35. 35
    Kristine says:

    @p.a.:

    After all, one way a person who owns a business (large or small) can reduce the taxes they pay on profits is to reinvest the profits, which in turn leads to faster economic expansion.

    Which is also why capital gains taxes should be higher rather than lower.

  36. 36
    Shell says:

    That cigar ash is about to fall into his wine glass.

  37. 37
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Grifters promote the thing that makes them money because that’s what grifters do.

    Best as I can tell, they’re both snorting their own distribution. They’re true believers in bullshit.

  38. 38
    p.a. says:

    @Brachiator: I think Kudlow got the job because Cramer wouldn’t take the pay cut 🙄

  39. 39
    burnspbesq says:

    @TenguPhule:

    If you believe in the diminishing marginal utility of wealth, the Laffer Curve is logically inevitable. What we can say with certainty is that we have no idea where the inflection point is, because we’ve never observed the behavior implied by the Laffer Curve, even in the Eisenhower administration when the top marginal rates were above 90 percent. The polite way to put it is that the Laffer Curve is an intellectual curiosity that has no practical application. There are plenty of less polite ways to put it.

  40. 40
    geg6 says:

    @p.a.:

    Yes, that last sentence exactly. I refer you to the 1950s and early 1960s.

  41. 41
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TenguPhule:

    The biggest danger of running a long con is that you start to believe your own patter. Look up Oliver Hartzell or James Addison Reavis.

  42. 42
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Republican agenda in a nutshell: Tax cuts for the rich. Cuts on entitlement programs for the working class.

    They’re so lucky that working class suckers keep voting for them.

  43. 43
    TenguPhule says:

    @burnspbesq:

    There are plenty of less polite ways to put it.

    All of which can be found in this blog’s archives at some point.

  44. 44
    Mary G says:

    @Kristine: This. When Mitt Romney released his tax returns, I was furious that he paid a lower percentage than my caregiver, who works harder than anyone I’ve known.

  45. 45
    burnspbesq says:

    @Steeplejack:

    That was the inevitable result of the design of the deemed-repatriation tax. The gross amount of post-1986 deferred foreign income (not just the net amount after the deduction that reduces the effective rate to between 8 and 15.5 percent) increases PTI, which can then be actually repatriated without a second taxable event. That was the whole idea, to get that cash back onshore, and the incentive to do it was a major rate reduction. Give CFOs cash, and they know what to do.

  46. 46
    burnspbesq says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Huge amounts of it can also be found in and around Greeley, Colorado.

  47. 47
    No Drought No More says:

    TPM reports: “..Vanessa Trump reportedly filed for an uncontested proceeding where “she’s not expecting a legal battle over custody of the couple’s five children or their assets.”

    My guess is Vanessa isn’t worried much about anything having to do with D Jr., if only because all her problems with him can be ended with a single phone call to Mueller Inc. No doubt it’s also occurred to D. Jr. to watch his step, too. After all, she’ll likely control his commissary allowance at whatever prison he lands in, and he’s accustomed to living large.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    burnspbesq says:

    @Steeplejack:

    but apparently not too soon to decide on huge stock buybacks at a record pace

    Like, duuuuuh: it’s the shareholders’ fucking money, and if management can’t put it to good use, they should give it the fuck back to them.

  50. 50
    Yarrow says:

    Speaking of money…

    BREAKING: we FOIA’d Mnuchin travel docs & he makes Carson and the others look like pikers—he blew over $1 million of your money flying military aircraft, with no apparent justification. His predecessors flew commercial. https://t.co/SC9r4apvYH— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) March 15, 2018

  51. 51
    danielx says:

    Ecrasez l’infame!

  52. 52
    TenguPhule says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Give CFOs cash, and they know what to do.

    Steal it.

  53. 53
    Baud says:

    Trump recently told White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly that he wants McMaster out and asked for help weighing replacement options, according to two people familiar with their conversations. The president has complained that McMaster is too rigid and that his briefings go on too long and seem irrelevant.

    Whole article worth a read.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/politics/trump-decides-to-remove-national-security-adviser-and-others-may-follow/2018/03/15/fea2ebae-285c-11e8-bc72-077aa4dab9ef_story.html

  54. 54
    Mary G says:

    WaPo says McMaster is toast:

    President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements, according to five people with knowledge of the plans, preparing to deliver yet another jolt to the senior ranks of his administration.

    Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster, with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up, these people said.

    And:

    Trump recently told White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly that he wants McMaster out and asked for help weighing replacement options, according to two people familiar with their conversations. The president has complained that McMaster is too rigid and that his briefings go on too long and seem irrelevant.

    Several candidates have emerged as possible McMaster replacements, including John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff of the National Security Council.

  55. 55
    Yarrow says:

    @Mary G: Trying to imagine how the confirmation hearings for the new people will go.

  56. 56
    Baud says:

    @Mary G: Jesus Christ, Mary.

  57. 57
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Huge amounts of it can also be found in and around Greeley, Colorado.

    What you are smelling there is money, or so I have been told.

  58. 58
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @Baud:

    Jesus Christ, Mary.

    What about Joseph?

  59. 59
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    @Mary G: If Bolton gets the job we’re all toast.

  60. 60
    Steeplejack says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Thank you, blinkered tax attorney. What you say is true. But the point is that the tax cut was sold on the premise that “management” would put the money to good use, with hints of shovel-ready projects all ready to go if that sweet, sweet cash would just come home.

    But now we are told that, well, it takes a while to put those projects together and get them going—while at the same time it is obvious that the corporations had detailed stock buyback programs primed and ready to go on day one.

  61. 61
    Mary G says:

    @Baud: You beat me to it! Jinx! I owe you an adult beverage.

    This is another great graph from the same story:

    Also, Trump has sometimes expressed confusion about what agencies and secretaries are in charge of what duties, a senior administration official said. For example, this official said, he has complained to Pruitt about regulatory processes for construction projects, although the EPA is not in charge of the regulations.

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: I know. But I think, like Flynn, he’d only last a couple of Scaramuccis. He would take credit for everything and piss Twitler off.

  62. 62
    mad citizen says:

    On topic, I picked up a library book sale 2010 book today titled “Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us” by John Quiggin, an economist at University of Queensland. Looks like a good read, with chapters including “The Efficient Markets Hypothesis” and “Trickle-Down Economics”

  63. 63
    Jeffro says:

    @Mary G: He’s probably thinking “WPA” – you know, from FDR days?

  64. 64
    Yarrow says:

    Speaking of people needing confirmation, this seems important:

    Correction: Trump’s Pick to Head CIA Did Not Oversee Waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah

    ProPublica erred when it reported in 2017 that Gina Haspel was in charge of a secret prison in Thailand during the infamous interrogation of an al-Qaida suspect.

    Link.

  65. 65
    Corner Stone says:

    @Steeplejack: His argument is essentially the same as when GWB passed his tax cut saying that a deficit was the people’s money and he was just returning it to them. That turned out well.

  66. 66
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Baud: @Mary G:

    Some in the White House have been reluctant to oust McMaster from his national security perch until he has a promotion to four-star rank or other comfortable landing spot. They are eager to show that someone can serve in the Trump administration without suffering severe damage to their reputation.

    “Jesus, Kellyanne, we have to have somebody who’s not a dignity wraith!” (h/t Josh Marshall)

    From the same article

    Many aides were particularly unsettled by the firing of the president’s longtime personal aide, John McEntee, who was marched out of the White House on Tuesday after his security clearance was abruptly revoked.
    “Everybody fears the perp walk,” one senior White House official said. “If it could happen to Johnny, the president’s body guy, it could happen to anybody.”

    This is like the “perjury trap”. If you’re afraid of the “perp walk”, if “everybody fears the perp walk”, then isn’t everybody…

  67. 67
    Mary G says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: Other people are concerned as well:

    Remember that Donald Trump opposed the Iraq War SO MUCH that he's hired the ONE HUMAN BEING ON EARTH who will has gone on TV for 16 years straight to defend it. https://t.co/1XabPxIbYh— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) March 16, 2018

  68. 68
    Baud says:

    @Yarrow: Saw that earlier. We’ll see what happens.

  69. 69
    mad citizen says:

    @Baud: So his briefings are what, like 10 minutes or something? I was listening to a multi-state work thing today, the group being political appointees, thinking about how much more detailed the discussions were when most of the states around me were Democratic vs now with the R’s controlling things. The way they embraced anti-intellectualism has been amazing to me. Eventually, it renders one unable to govern very well, and resort to BS as your main M.O.

  70. 70
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mary G:

    but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated

    What bullshit is this? Trump never cared about other people and in fact loves humiliating people that dared to work in his admin, or do something he doesn’t like.

  71. 71
    Doug R says:

    The Bombardier CSeries family of commercial aircraft redefines operational flexibility, cost effectiveness and passenger comfort in the 100- to 149-seat class. In the United States, suppliers from 20 states account for significant percentage of the CSeries Bill of Materials, including engines, braking systems, hydraulic systems, fuel systems, avionics, interiors and other critical components and systems.

    Let’s see. 100% tariff on a North American built plane with USA parts? Check.
    10% tariff on aluminum? Check.
    25$ tariff on steel? Check.
    Drop out of TPP? Check.
    How come the aircraft business ain’t doing so good?
    http://us.bombardier.com/us/ab.....untry.html

  72. 72
    Baud says:

    @mad citizen:

    I was listening to a multi-state work thing today, the group being political appointees, thinking about how much more detailed the discussions were when most of the states around me were Democratic vs now with the R’s controlling things.

    I remember constant mocking of Obama’s level of transparency. Another set of people who are largely quiet now.

  73. 73
    efgoldman says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap:

    If Bolton gets the job we’re all toast.

    Give him a field commission to major general on the condition that he physically lead the troops into the desert.

  74. 74

    @Corner Stone: He is afraid of chunky Lex Luther.

  75. 75
    Shell says:

    H.R. McMaster

    Always think that sounds like a ’70’s Saturday morning kids show.

  76. 76
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I’ve never feared a perp walk myself. Maybe my life is too boring…

  77. 77
    TenguPhule says:

    @Baud: We are all going to die horribly.

  78. 78
    Corner Stone says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Not like he’s going to fire him face to face. Trump will be in FL when it goes down.

  79. 79
    Redshift says:

    I went to my local county budget town hall tonight, because someone needs to advocate for paying the cost of civilization against the tax whiners. God, they’re annoying!

    I definitely did my civic duty. On the plus side, the room was only about half full, so at least the tax bozos aren’t very energized this year.

  80. 80
    raven says:

    @TenguPhule: Oh whatever,

  81. 81
    TenguPhule says:

    @Yarrow:

    Trying to imagine how the confirmation hearings for the new people will go.

    Are there no circus gifs of clowns emerging one by one from the tiny little car, only to be hit by shaving cream pies to the face?

  82. 82
    raven says:

    @TenguPhule: Or maybe a bunch of chicken littles.

  83. 83
    Jeffro says:

    Why doesn’t Trumpov just directly install the cast of “Fox and Friends” in his cabinet, and be done with it? There’s no one else he trusts.

    Also: since Trumpov clearly just wants to play the part of all-day talking head on the weekdays, and wrestling ‘heel’ on the weekends, can we work on those angles? Get him alternating spots on Fox and CNBC (or even a fake Fox and CNBC – he won’t know he’s not really being broadcast anywhere) plus a gig shaving heads in some WWE ring someplace?

  84. 84
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I’ll leave this down here (for entertainment purposes only) so’s not to sully the fresh thread

    @ Elizabeth_Calo
    I’m not being being hyperbolic but we all going to die if Bolton replaces McMaster.

    Richard M. Nixon Retweeted Elizabeth Catherine
    She’s not far wrong.
    I think we are known here for playing it straight and cutting the crap. Well, every terrible thing you’ve ever heard about Bolton is true.
    Mattis is nuts, but not nuts enough to put 600,000 soldiers into Asia. Bolton thinks Mattis is weak.

    And that critique from an on-line role-playing playwright (and I say that as a big fan) is the most critical thing I think I’ve ever read about Mattis

  85. 85
    efgoldman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: You don’t remember when Buddy or one or another of the Patriarcas was arrested?

  86. 86
    Steeplejack says:

    @Yarrow:

    Hmm, other outlets, including the New York Times, reported the same thing.

    . . . And I see from the linked article that the Times also has run a partial retraction (apparently, phrasing somewhat vague).

    I hope Haspel’s nomination brings the whole CIA torture shitshow back into the public spotlight. Obama’s gone, so the Republicans can’t paint it as partisan retribution, and the whole thing stinks the farther away we get from the hysteria right after 9/11. Christ, we’re talking about things that we executed Germans and Japanese for after World War II.

    That ProPublica story has some surreal tidbits:

    We also found an online posting by John Kiriakou, a former CIA counter-terrorism officer, who wrote that “it was Haspel who oversaw the staff” at the Thai prison, including two psychologists who “designed the torture techniques and who actually carried out torture on the prisoners.”

    [. . .]

    James Mitchell, the psychologist and CIA contractor who helped to direct the waterboarding of both suspects, said in a broadcast interview on March 14 that Haspel was not the “chief of base” whom he described in his book as making fun of Zubaydah’s suffering.

    “That chief of base was not Gina,” Mitchell told Fox Business News. “She’s not the COB I was talking about.”

    Mitchell’s book, Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America, referred to the chief of base in Thailand as both “he” and “she.”

    We erroneously assumed that this was an effort by Mitchell or the agency to conceal the gender of the single official involved; it is now clear that Mitchell was referring to two different people.

    ProPublica contacted Mitchell in 2017 to ask him about this passage in his book. Facing a civil lawsuit brought by former CIA detainees, he declined to comment.

    At about the same time, we approached the CIA’s press office with an extensive list of questions about the cables and Haspel’s role in running the Thai prison, particularly her dealings with Zubaydah.

    An agency spokesman declined to answer any of those questions but released a statement that was quoted in the article, asserting that “nearly every piece of reporting that you are seeking comment on is incorrect in whole or in part.”

    The CIA did not comment further on the story after its publication and we were not aware of any further questions about its accuracy until this week.

    The February 2017 ProPublica story did accurately report that Haspel later rose to a senior position at CIA headquarters, where she pushed her bosses to destroy the tapes of Zubaydah’s waterboarding. Her direct boss, the head of the agency’s Counterterrorism Center, ultimately signed the order to feed the 92 tapes into a shredder. Her actions in that instance, and in the waterboarding of al-Nashiri, are likely to be the focus of questions at her confirmation hearings.

  87. 87
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @efgoldman: Sure do. But I don’t expect that I will be. Unless you know something I don’t.

  88. 88
    SFAW says:

    @Mary G:

    I know. But I think, like Flynn, he’d only last a couple of Scaramuccis. He would take credit for everything and piss Twitler off.

    Right duration, wrong reason.

  89. 89
    Millard Filmore says:

    @burnspbesq:

    If you believe in the diminishing marginal utility of wealth, the Laffer Curve is logically inevitable. What we can say with certainty is that we have no idea where the inflection point is

    We don’t know what that curve looks like and don’t know where we are on that curve.

  90. 90
    p.a. says:

    @mad citizen: Quiggin has a good presence on the (in the) intertubes. Believe Crooked Timber (been a long time since I went there, if it still exists), and the kinda odd uggabugga, where I believe he produced

    this
    diagram of the Bush Crime Family.

  91. 91
    joel hanes says:

    @burnspbesq:

    What we can say with certainty is that we have no idea where the inflection point is, because we’ve never observed the behavior implied by the Laffer Curve, even in the Eisenhower administration when the top marginal rates were above 90 percent.

    Lawyers. I just don’t know about you guys.

    An engineer would say:
    We have actually carried out large-scale experiments on the national economy, and small-scale experiments in some states (see tables, Appendix A).
    All the available evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the inflection point must be somewhere above a 90% marginal rate, and inconsistent with any lower value
    We could make useful tentative predictions with a rule-of-thumb assumption that it’s at 95%, to be refined later when further evidence is available.
    Thus our recommendation: raise taxes on the rich.

  92. 92
    Ruckus says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Extreme excess cash is accumulated by the super rich to give them a stiffy, not for any other reason. They don’t invest it because then they wouldn’t be able to have a stiffy and that is an issue for them because they wouldn’t then be able to screw the rest of us. In the 50s, when the marginal rate was dramatically higher, the rich still got rich but the rest of the economy actually worked, as it always does when that money is invested in the economy rather than creating rich stiffies.
    IOW fuck a bunch of dick measuring numbers for assholes who couldn’t spend all their money if they wanted to.

  93. 93
    joel hanes says:

    @p.a.:

    Wow, I haven’t read uggabugga since Obama was inaugurated.
    I’ll go look.

  94. 94
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I’ve never feared a perp walk myself. Maybe my life is too boring…

    A life without a record is a wasted life.

  95. 95
    Ken says:

    @ET:

    I should add that [Don Jr] is following in dad’s footsteps.

    He’s already got wife #2 lined up and has been having an affair with her since the last time wife #1 was pregnant?

  96. 96
    p.a. says:

    @mad citizen: @p.a.: @joel hanes: Just checked Crooked Timber and Quiggin has a post today!

    Think I confused CT’s Quiggin with uggabugga’s Quiddity! Apologies to both.

  97. 97
    BillCinSD says:

    @joel hanes: Also, people have estimated the total tax rate that maximizes revenue at around 70%.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.c.....ve_be.html

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