Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tasteless 9/11 Comment, Corporate Tax Rates, and Canadian Softwood Lumber

As I get used to raising a newborn while going to work full-time, I'm just slowly edging my way back into blogging.  I apologize for the slow-down!  But here we go.  Emphases added mine throughout.

While I try to stay focused on "the issues" here rather than President Trump's various utterances, I had to record this one for posterity, because holy mackerel:

President Trump bragged in a new interview that he’d drawn CBS higher ratings than the calamitous terror attack that killed almost 3,000 people in his home city.


“On any, on air, (‘Face the Nation’ host John) Dickerson had 5.2 million people. It’s the highest for ‘Face the Nation’ or as I call it, ‘Deface the Nation,’” Trump said. “It’s the highest for ‘Deface the Nation’ since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It’s a tremendous advantage.” (NY Daily News)

With that kind of messaging, he's sure to get his ginormous corporate tax break through a GOP-controlled Congress.  This should cost the government about $2 trillion in dough.

But maybe it would all be worth it if the tax cut were to generate economic growth?  Let's take a look at how that's worked out in US history.

It's hard to spot the correlation, but if you look at the peaks and troughs of GDP growth, you can see that, roughly, as corporate tax rates go down, GDP goes down with it.  I'm not saying that's causation; might be correlation.  Still, hard to make the case that cutting the corporate tax rate has ever made economic growth soar, or even occur.

(That graphic comes by way of the Economic Policy Institute, obviously, which concludes their report with the following: "In other words, there is no apparent association between the statutory corporate tax rate and economic growth.")

Well then!  So, the government will be out $2 trillion with likely nothing to show for it. 

But maybe we'll have a trade war with Canada!  Apparently Canada has been "dumping" lumber on the US - logging being subsidized so as to decrease the eventual market price in America.  Sounds like subsidized American farmers with their unfair advantage over Africa to me. 

I'm actually all in favor of a legit 20% import tax on Canadian softwood lumber.  To hell with "dumpers", wherever they may be found.  As long as logging is done in a sustainable way (always an open question), let's go American loggers!

Ah, but this is Donald Trump we're talking about here.  He's talking about a 20% tariff on Canadian softwood.  But he's been talking about a lot of various tariffs for a while now.  And where are those tariffs exactly?

Despite the fact that most Americans appear to support a border adjustment tax - not a tariff per se but the closest thing to one policymakers have actually advanced - Donald Trump is cool to the idea.  Meanwhile, we're still waiting for punitive tariffs proper to actually materialize.

Could it be that protectionism is a good talking point for the Trump wing of the GOP, but that they're not actually sincere about protectionism in the slightest? I wonder.

But I bet we'll get that corporate tax break that we all voted for.

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