Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trucking, Tax Reform Politics, and Escalating Airstrikes

I love Hamilton Nolan, who here has a nice run-down on the changes facing trucking.  Here's the relevant excerpt.  Emphases added mine throughout:

There is no better example of an industry teetering on the precipice of destruction than truck driving. Trucks themselves will be fine; it’s just the jobs that will go away. There are about 3.5 million professional truck drivers in America. All of those jobs can and will disappear when self-driving truck technology is fully rolled out. The trucking industry itself expects that to start happening in earnest within five years. That may be optimistic. Last October, the Uber-owned startup Otto successfully demonstrated its self-driving delivery truck. We are now just in a countdown until the technology is tested and perfected and permitted and approved and widely distributed. If such technology costs $40,000 per truck, as one researcher estimates, its widespread adoption will be a no-brainer from a business standpoint. It will pay for itself within a year. Morgan Stanley has estimated that this technology could save the trucking industry $70 billion a year on driver salaries.  (The Concourse)

Nolan throws in this proposal, with which I agree:

Widespread clean energy use would save our economy hundreds of billions of dollars. Earmarking $50 billion of that for a jobs and development program in coal country would go a long way towards muting the concerns of workers who voted for Donald Trump with the vain hope of getting their coal jobs back. In essence, we need a tax on the economic benefits of globalization and technological change that is specifically earmarked for the workers in sectors being upended. Leaving this to the “free market” has simply caused all the gains to go to the investment class. It has not worked. False promises about rolling back globalization or moving technology backwards likewise will not work, and are stupid wastes of time. (The Concourse)

But of course, he also notes this:

On Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the idea that American jobs could be lost to automation is “not even on my radar screen.”  (The Concourse)

In other news, the Washington Post has some reporting on what's up next for Trump and the GOP, namely, the big tax "reform" plan.  I believe the WaPo is behind a paywall so let me pull the choicest quotes for you:

Trump wants a tax cut across the board, according to the plan he published during the campaign. He has proposed relief for the wealthy especially, but also for less affluent households. The plan that Ryan (R-Wis.) and his colleagues in the House have put forward would not substantially reduce taxes for the middle class, and many households would pay more. ... In all, taxpayers with roughly average incomes could expect a tax cut of around $1,100 a year under Trump's plan, compared to just $60 under Ryan's plan once the proposals were fully implemented. (WaPo)

Look!  Here's a pretty graph.

Heavily skewed toward the rich, as is to be expected, but promising for the poor, actually!  Unless you're a single parent, in which case, screw you:

Meanwhile, both plans would increase the amount that many families can earn without paying taxes — to $30,000 for a married couple in Trump's plan and $24,000 in the proposal from Republicans in the House. These provisions would help poor and working-class families, although large families or households with one parent could be worse off under the simplified systems Republicans have proposed. (WaPo)

Then there's "border adjustment" (I'm talking about taxation, not a dumb wall), one of the only intriguing parts of this tax reform talk.  I covered border adjustment taxes (BATs) earlier here.  Political football-wise, Trump is not crazy about BATs, and Ryan is, so perhaps BATs are dead on arrival.  Still, it's much more intriguing concept in terms of Making America Great Again than just more huge tax cuts for the rich.  I don't have time today to revisit BATs, but I promise I will soon.  The ever-reliable Business Insider is on the case with a short article if you care to read it.  The fact that Wal-Mart and the Koch brothers hate the idea make it automatically intriguing to me, I can't lie. But on the other hand, let's not be simplistic.

Finally for today, I give you some fantastic data from Airwars.org, showing that the Trump admin may be pulling a Nixon to Obama's Johnson, i.e., ramping up the bombing:

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