T: You know who gets almost no press on MSN? Melania. She was on there the other day, and I had to ask myself when I had last seen her. I thought maybe they shipped her back to the motherland or something.
J: She gets hardly any press anywhere. She’s like the Flying Dutchman of first ladies. People claim to have seen her, but there’s no hard evidence she exists.
T: It’s hard to get any press in the same room with Trump.
J: She’s the First Lady… Michelle Obama used to get press just for farting. OK, maybe not literally.
T: Michelle Obama was a great quote, living with a President who preferred to control his press coverage. She was Barack’s press beard, day-to-day.
J: How is Melania’s English? I know she’s not a native speaker, maybe she doesn’t feel comfortable speaking in public so much.
T: My guess is that Trump controls her, limiting her to extremely female stuff. but mostly the press has been so obsessively barking after Trump that she might as well be part of his wardrobe.
Which, of course, she is.
J: Could be. Trump does have a way of sucking the air out of a room.
T: Melania should go suck the air out of an inner tube. That would get a million YouTube views.
Plus somebody besides me might want to see it, too.
J: Inner tube? I thought that bit was about a trailer hitch.
T: I dunno; trailer hitch porn has been in a downward spiral ever since the e-brake incident.
J: The internet is still really, really great for porn.
T: And vice versa. No pun intended.
J: You know that’s really what net neutrality opponents are upset about; the possibility that access to porn will be limited.
T: Porn ain’t going anywhere, but the downloads might last longer than the videos. All porn videos are three and a half minutes long, right?
J: It seems like they have gotten longer as I have gotten older.
T: Yeah, I think so.
J: It’s amazing how they bog down after a few minutes.
T: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to sit through one all the way to the end.
J: All the way to which end?
T: Can we talk about something else?
J: That’s what will eventually get the net-neutrality rules reinstated… guys don’t care about paying a few extra bucks for internet service, but when you start fucking around with their porn, that’s hitting them where they live.
T: Do you think any of Trump’s executive actions will still be alive in 20222?
J: Well, that’s 18,000 years from now.
T: Oops. I mean 2022.
J: No. And I’d be surprised if his tax cuts survived 2021, too.
T: Oh, tax cuts are harder to dump, though. Look how long Reagan’s tax plan survived.
J: Well, yeah, but this one is weighted towards corporations – much easier to paint as the bad guys.
T: Speaking of the tax deal – will there be legal challenges, or does it just go into action?
J: It’ll just go into effect; it can’t really be legally challenged. It’s going to be a Pyrrhic victory, though. It’s hideously unpopular because it’s so heavily weighted towards rich people and corporations.
T: When was the last time the GOP gave even the slightest edge of a snowflake about popularity? It was wildly unpopular before they passed it. Why would its unpopularity change anything once it’s law?
These people don’t care about the public; they haven’t since early GW days.
J: They obviously don’t care about the tax bill’s popularity; they just want to get some kind of a legislative win. But this bill is so toxic that it probably would have been better for them if they’d lost.
T: I agree with you, to be honest. I think passing this tax plan stands a good chance of toppling the GOP as we know it, once and for all. The money grab that began with Reagan dumping the middle class and building the massive 1 percent class will end with the GOP becoming the Tea Party.
And the Dems are going to bring back the 97 percent tax bracket.
J: This is just so blatant, so obvious. Even the Trump voters will see it.
T: Well, the hard cores won’t. Sheep never bleat after the slaughter.
J: The Democrats’ 2021 legislative agenda:
• Stiff tax increases on corporations and the wealthy.
• Comprehensive immigration reform.
And the Republicans, after the Trump era, will be able to do fuck-all about it; they will be the minority party for a generation.
T: Won’t there be any more corporations around by 2021? Or will America’s entire corporate presence climb the wall from this side?
J: Oh, they’ll still be here… but not for long once the Democrats get unified control of the government. They’ll be taxed out of existence.
T: The Dems aren’t that stupid. Are they?
J: The thing about the Democrats is that they don’t have a Freedom Caucus they have to try and mollify. They can pretty much all get behind whatever bill they propose.
T: That’s really why the GOP is failing so badly. They are not losing popularity, they are gaining polarity, so to speak. They are splintered in two, with the left side of the party actually gaining constituents from the center who are tired of obsessive PC liberal bullshit, but losing more to the right. The sick of the 1 percent crowd is being siphoned off by the Tea Party schism.
J: “Out of existence” might be a little strong, but I’d bet you a sawbuck right now that corporate tax rates go up a minimum of 5 percent within six months of the 2020 election.
T: How much are they being cut in this bill?
J: Corporate rates are being cut from 35 percent to 21 percent.
T: So a 5 percent increase gets it to a net 9 percent cut?
J: Back up to 26 percent, so yeah.
T: So a net 9 percent cut.
J: The figure I saw was about $100 billion per 1 percent, so there’s $500 billion to pay for Medicare-for-all.
T: Do you have an idea what the happy medium would be, where US corporations would want to stay here? There has to be a tipping point.
J: No! Nein! Dere must be socialism for all!!!!! (Terry made this up. John didn’t say anything that even sounded like this, mostly because at the time he was playing Alien Pot Farm. Or something.)
T: For a guy who used to vote for lots of republicans, you have some amazingly socialist economic visions.
J: I smartened up, as I got older. By the time I get to be 80 I’m gonna sound like Bernie Sanders.
T: I always thought that went the other way – that hippies became republicans.
J: When was I a hippy?
T: Oh, right. Never mind.
J: I always thought Dylan was overrated.
T: We all did. But we kept our mouths shut, while he strolled naked down the catwalk.
J: Sheep like Dylan.
T: Sheep also like pork and beans.
J: Good point. Except I like pork and beans.
T: Oh wait, so do I.
J: So … we like Dylan now?
T: He’s an American treasure. I always wondered … how in the hell does he comb that hair?
J: I don’t think he does.
T: That explains it.
J: Should we get back to taxes? Because this ain’t going nowhere.
T: Yeah, let’s get back there like a rolling stone.
J: Nice segue.
J: Of course not.
T: That was definitely sarcasm.
J: Lay lady lay.
T: Oh, right. So what’s the balancing corporate rate?
J: There has to be a happy medium, where they’re not making out like bandits but at the same time they can afford to pay for some R&D. My guess would be high 20s.
T: I think 35 percent is clearly too high, given the obvious fact that so many foreign corporations can afford to ship stuff across the ocean cheaper than we can make it here.
J: I agree that 35 percent is too much. It just incentivizes companies to set up foreign subsidiaries and move those jobs offshore.
T: We want to encourage local ownership – that’s the downforce – but how much is too much? Is 21 percent so low that even a massive increase in local revenue streams would leave us poorer?
I honestly think a significant cut is a good thing, but I’m not sure how far is the right amount. What cut gets the multinationals to build in Akron again, but isn’t so low that they just accumulate all the cash, and shut down the economy?
J: Well, the question is, what are those companies going to do with that 14 percent? If they were going to plow it into R&D and plants and equipment and so on, that’d be great, but the sad fact is that mostly they’re just going to pay off corporate debt, buy back stock, and buy other companies.
T: I don’t think so. Money circulates, so as long as it exists inside the borders it’s generally a good thing. The main reason we lost so much manufacturing is because it became cheaper to build it elsewhere and ship it here. If we make it cheaper to build here than to ship it, manufacturing will increase.
Bigger question – do we WANT it to increase? The good people of Flint, Michigan might prefer to build a casino.
J: Well, the problem with building in Akron isn’t taxes so much as wages. If Joe Sixpack is going to want $22 an hour to build industrial widgets in Akron, and Dong Hung Lo is willing to build them in Shanghai for $8 an hour, well, what are you going to do, Mr. CEO of Widgets Backwards “R” Us?
T: To answer your question, wages + shipping + ? = total cost. Find the number that balances the equation, where we are in honest competition with the rest of the world, and a balance will be struck.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that lower corporate tax rates will increase the speed of circulation. It takes money to make money. If these corporations are making money, they will spend money to make more. And that increases circulation.
I lived in Vegas for several months, and the money circulates down there like it’s being blown around by ceiling fans. You stand still for 20 minutes; somebody tries to stick 20 bucks down your pants. It’s an amazing thing to see. Plus you spend a lot of time with someone’s hands down your pants.
J: What happens in Vegas …
T: Is generally treatable, but you really should wear a condom.
J: Now, you could go to Trump and say “Mr. President, the Chinese are flooding the market with cheap widgets. I want you to put a 100 percent tariff on imported widgets so I can compete.”
T: That wouldn’t work. The Chinese would just declare war.
J: That helps American widget makers, but the Chinese would retaliate, of course.
T: And guess who has control of all the toothpaste and snow tires?
J: Pretty soon we’d be driving on our rims and brushing our teeth with Comet.
T: Trump talks about wanting to put America first, and in some ways he is right. But tariffs aren’t the solution. I prefer incentives – and a lower tax rate for businesses is a good example of incentive.
J: Tariffs don’t really work; there’s always a way around them and they don’t hurt the people who are manufacturing cheaply. The Chinese would just sell their widgets elsewhere. Incentives, like lower taxes, are a better way to make American business more competitive.
T: I don’t know about the rest of the bill … we do need to make sure we can pay our bills. Too many politicos think growth is vital to a healthy economy. Growth helps business, but it fucks everyone else. I’d prefer a balanced economic model to a growth model.
The Growth Model, I think, is the hidden cost of letting rich people run things, I think. All that money is taken from the balance and given to a small portion of society, which then has to figure out how to cover the extra expenses. Rinse and repeat.
J: The big problem in this tax bill, as I see it, is that it adds all that money to the debt. That’s bound to be inflationary. I mean, what good is 4 percent growth if inflation is running 10 percent a year?
T: I’m not sure that’s really true, though. A big part of the deficit is the trade imbalance. If we encourage business to come home, that will cut that part of the debt.
J: Balanced, to rich people, is two dirty words mashed together.
T: Bala-nced? That doesn’t make sense.
J: banc and laed. It’s code.
T: Code? Are you sure it isn’t just how Trump spells bank and laid?
J: Oh crap, you broke the code.