Friday Night Open Thread: Dystopias, All the Way Down

We’re a kakistocracy now:

C.R.E.A.M. Open Thread: Senator Warren, Leading the Way Again

“Identity politics”, assuming (part of) the average voter’s identity is taxpayer

Using a surtax, rather than raising the corporate rate, would allow the tax code to target larger, more profitable companies.

Warren said the tax code is “so littered with loopholes that simply raising the regular corporate tax rate alone is not enough” to combat the “armies of lawyers and accountants” that large businesses have to lower their tax bills. The tax code has an array of breaks for corporations to lower their liability — by, say, depreciating their buildings and machinery, deducting interest on debt and taking tax credits for research costs…

The 2017 Republican tax overhaul slashed the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. Democrats have criticized the overhaul for reducing the levy too much.

Warren’s tax plan would effectively increase that rate for many publicly traded companies on profits of more than $100 million to 28 percent, a rate that other prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, have backed.

Amazon has faced public criticism for using the U.S. tax code to get a refund for 2017 and 2018, even as it made hundreds of billions in revenue and about $10 billion in profits in 2018. The online retail giant gets both the benefits usually used by technology companies — deductions for paying employees in stock — as well as the write-offs for companies that rely heavily on building physical infrastructure…

The 2017 tax law also eliminated the corporate alternative minimum tax, a calculation that prohibited companies from taking too many tax breaks to reduce their liability. Warren’s plan would be a backstop for savvy corporations who are now able to use the full force of the tax law to cut down their tax bills…

(Should’ve posted this earlier in the day, but at least the left-coast Amazon stans will be able to have their say… )

Late Night ‘Dance of the Seven Unveils’ Open Thread: Speaking of Politicians Who Won’t Release Their Tax Returns…

Sooo… I guess Bernie’s going on Fox News next Monday because he has a book to sell?

If you’re old like me (and I ain’t as old as Bernie!), you’ll remember that back in 1985 (Democratic) Speaker Jim Wright had to step down after he was charged with bulk-selling his own book to lobbyists hoping to influence him.

Sen. Sanders better have all his royalty receipts in good order and ready to go, because I’m quite sure the Repubs will have no qualms about accusing St. Bernie of similar sleight-of-hand. Heck, Newt Gingrich (who was the first to attack Wright, even though he’d done the same thing himself while a state lege) may come back from the Vatican just to lead the charge!

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Noo Yawk Knife Fight Open Thread: Nadler v Trump

There is no feud like a NYC feud, especially one between a politico and a developer. NYCers — as an expat, I can say this — cherish a decades-long, no-holds-barred contest between two powerful enemies:

Assembling a group of House Republicans at the White House to talk trade last month, President Trump suddenly launched into a tirade about the congressman leading an extensive investigation into his presidency: his New York antagonist, Rep. Jerrold Nadler….

“I’ve been battling Nadler for years,” Trump told the GOP lawmakers, who were embarrassed by the outburst, according to several individuals in the room who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss the remarks.

Trump and Nadler are currently the main foes in a constitutional clash over executive power, as Nadler aggressively moves to investigate the president’s conduct and weighs whether to hold impeachment proceedings. But Trump’s jabs at Nadler were a fresh reminder that the animosity between the two native New Yorkers is personal as well as political — rooted in a decades-old fight over a tract of New York City real estate.

The feud between Trump, 72, and Nadler, 71, began in the 1980s when Nadler, a New York state assemblyman and later congressman, proved to be a major obstacle to a vast development project that Trump envisioned for Manhattan’s West Side, Nadler’s turf.

“Jerry was on him from Day One,” said Linda Rosenthal, a former Nadler aide who later won his state Assembly seat. “He keenly understood that this was a man who would try to get the government to pay for all his mostly bollixed attempts at development . . . His casinos failed. He lost money on deals. He left the banks on the hook for his bad financial plans. . . . He was just such a braggart and such an insincere person, but Jerry saw through that.”
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(No) Opening Day Open Thread: Trump Admin Demonstrates Its Priorities

Rich sportsball team owners & other creeps, not to mention being racist, Trump loves. Brown people (however gifted) from ‘Mexican’ countries, not so much. I didn’t know the backstory here, which is why I am gratful to Dave Roth at Deadspin:

For decades, every Cuban-born player in Major League Baseball arrived in the United States only at the end of a long and dangerous extralegal process. That process was, by its nature, run exclusively by and mostly for the benefit of an international collection of creeps, from violent criminal gangs to lawyers who knew what questions not to ask. All of which is a strange thing to remember when, say, watching José Abreu line an unremarkable two-out single to right—that man had to eat a fake Haitian passport on a flight to the United States. Yasiel Puig was held hostage at a dingy hotel in Mexico by smugglers while they attempted to sell him to the highest bidder, and then he was kidnapped from those smugglers by other criminals, and then some time later he was traded by the Dodgers to the Reds in an offseason salary dump to create room for the Dodgers to sign A.J. Pollock. Even as these players slip over time into the background noise of baseball, the fact of all this is there. “There is only one way for a Cuban player to get to the U.S.” a lawyer for one of the men who smuggled Abreu out of Cuba said in 2017. “They have to escape.”

It’s just one of those fucked-up things. A deal made last year between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation that would allow Cuban players to come to the United States without first escaping from the island and formally defecting was designed to address it. On Monday, the Trump State Department rejected it.

Business is business, and so there was a great deal of sketchy shit inherent even in the deal between MLB and FCB that sought to drag this scuzzy process aboveboard. But where the men who smuggled Abreu into the United States wanted 25 percent of his future earnings, the deal between MLB and FCB simply worked out a two-tiered system for Cuban players that was modeled on the posting system that MLB has with Japan’s NPB. Many of the immigration-related hoops that slowed the process down in the past were still in effect, but the sinister shit had been mitigated—Cuban players would still have to apply for U.S. work visas from a third foreign country, but they would no longer require the services of gangsters and smugglers to get there. FCB teams would receive a fee from MLB teams for the players they sold to the Majors, and Cuban nationals would pay Cuban income taxes on their MLB earnings. They would also, crucially, be able to return to their home country…

Anyway, all of this was subject to State Department approval, and on Monday—days after the FCB released a list of 34 young players that would be allowed to sign with MLB teams—the Trump State Department announced that it did not approve of the deal. This was always a possibility, both because of specific longstanding conservative grievances with Cuba—Florida Senator Marco Rubio called the deal “both illegal and immoral” after it was announced—and because of the general atavistic grievance and hostility that defines the current administration. The stated issues with the deal were amorphous …

As has been said before: With Trump and his administration, the cruelty is the point. Play ball!