Everybody’s talking about taxes this week. Big Republican bill is coming out of the oven. Attention must be paid. Feel free to ask questions.
– Is it true that Donald Trump Jr. stole his kid’s Halloween candy?
Don Jr. tweeted that he was going to take half of his daughter Chloe’s candy and give it to “some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism.”
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The most important thing about that tweet is that Junior misspelled “too.” His dad does that a lot.
However, he also seemed to be talking about redistribution of wealth, so I guess it’s fair game for a tax conversation. Except that this is not the right moment to pick on Junior. His mother, Ivana, published a memoir recently that makes it clear this guy had one of the worst childhoods this side of Oliver Twist. His father didn’t want him named Donald Jr. in case he turned into a “loser.” He had to call Ivana in Florida to report he’d found his nanny unconscious in the basement. While he was in school, his father was having a torrid affair that was headlined in the tabloids every single day.
So leave Donald Jr. alone. He had a weird upbringing. And maybe 20 years from now, we’ll offer the same sort of amnesty to Chloe. Meantime, about the taxes …
– Does Donald Trump think tax cuts will be his big first-year moment?
For a president, every day is a new challenge to rise to the occasion. If, for instance, a terrorist assault hits an American city, he will want to quickly bring the people together by attacking the city’s U.S. senator and claiming the nation’s system of justice is “a joke.”
So while taxes are of course a big presidential priority, it isn’t everything.
– Whoa, you’re sounding a little bitter there.
Sorry. We are talking about taxes and I am not going to be diverted. Just because we have a president who once attempted to give the impression he had visited ground zero on 9/11. Which he referred to as “7/11.”
We’re talking revenue here. Let’s get to it.
– Give me something I can say about taxes that will sound very smart when I have dinner with my relatives over the holidays.
I recommend, “What ever happened to carried interest?” That’s a tax loophole much beloved by Wall Street investment managers. Which Donald Trump attacked during the campaign. (“They are paper-pushers. They make a fortune. They pay no tax. It’s ridiculous, OK?”)
Then, not a word …
– Wall Street investment managers pay no tax?
They generally pay about 20 percent. Which, as Hillary Clinton often pointed out, is less than a lot of nurses pay on their salaries. Poor Hillary Clinton. Sometimes she’d give little lectures at her campaign rallies explaining how carried interest worked so her supporters could understand the details …
– I am not going to talk about Hillary Clinton with my relatives at dinner. It leads to sobbing and ruined appetites.
Sorry. The carried interest reform wasn’t in the initial administration tax proposal, but the White House economic adviser, Gary Cohn, claimed Trump was committed to it. This was the same Gary Cohn who suggested that a $1,000 tax cut would enable average Americans to “buy a new car.”
Basically, Donald Trump’s most progressive proposal for taxes seems to have fallen by the wayside. Like an abandoned kitten or the release of his own personal tax returns.
– The Republicans are always talking about repealing the estate tax. Isn’t that just for superrich people?
Well, it is true that estates don’t get taxed unless they’re worth more than $5.95 million, or $10.9 million for a couple. And it is also true that most people with that amount of money have already figured out ways to minimize the bill. And special cases like family-owned farms have been given lots of protections.
But getting rid of the estate tax is still an important point of honor for many Republicans. Somewhere tonight there’s a child with a $30 million inheritance who needs our help.
– What’s the tax cut schedule? Is it happening soon?
The House leaders have been flailing away for some time, trying to figure out how to give breaks to corporations, estates worth more than $11 million and people in the top income bracket without making it look as though they’re doing favors for rich people.
And that’s actually the easy part. After the House, the Senate Republicans have to come up with a plan that will please 50 members of their party, several of whom regard the president as slightly less inspirational than shingles.
– I don’t see why we need to talk about taxes now. Nothing will happen for ages. There hasn’t even been a hearing.
That’s really sweet of you, imagining there’d be hearings. Congress doesn’t have public deliberation while it’s preparing big bills any more. It’s totally not Age of Trump.
Almost as out of date as the idea that a president should call the mayor of a city that’s suffered a terrorist attack on the same day it happened.