Monthly Archives: July 2004

Tax Time Bombs

I feel like taking a little break — two or three days —from international taxation.

Fortunately, there are even more important — at least in the medium term — tax topics. The most pressing tax issues today are presented by two time bombs in current law: (i) the sunset of the Bush tax cuts and (ii) the metastasis of the alternative minimum tax.

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Posted in Law: Tax | 4 Comments

Election Polls and Predictions

Those of you still commenting on the old Zogby thread may be interested in Zogby's latest poll.

Meanwhile here's a simple-minded way to think about the election. There must be something wrong with it, but I can't see what it is.

The last election was a statistical tie electorally, and Gore's on the popular vote by a substantial margin. Many key states were very close.

Today's electorate can be divided into three groups:
1. People who voted for Gore in 2000.
2. People who voted for Bush in 2000.
3. People who didn't vote in 2000.

Unless they are dead, all of Gore's voters will vote for Kerry. The counter-argument would be that some marginal Gore voters will 'rally round the flag' and 'vote for the Commander in Chief'. An alternate version says that “security moms” (aka soccer moms worried about terror) will vote for Bush because it makes them feel safer. I don't buy either of these arguments.

I think it's also clear that Bush has held most but by no means all of his vote.

Zogby's latest suggests that new (young) voters are breaking for Kerry. (“among young voters – 18-29 year olds – a group Al Gore only won by 2 points in 2000, Kerry is winning in a landslide, 53% to 33%.”)

Of course turnout and regional factors matter. Some pervious voters in the first two groups may stay home. But is it credible to think that the GOP will manage turnout sufficiently well to overcome what seems a real deficit? Won't more Republicans than Democrats stay home if they are unenthused with their party's candidate?

So, barring the October Surprise, it's Kerry by a landslide.

Like I say, it can't be that simple, can it?

Posted in Politics: US: 2004 Election | 275 Comments

Kerry, Exporting Jobs, and Taxes

John Kerry's acceptance speech last night made reference to the US rules for taxing multinationals. I thought that his comment presents a nice opportunity to pull together some of the prior analysis and extend it to outsourcing.

Kerry promised to:

close the tax loopholes that reward companies for shipping jobs overseas. Instead, we will reward companies that create and keep good paying jobs where they belong, in the good old U.S.A. We value an America that exports products, not jobs. And we believe American workers should never have to subsidize the loss of their own job.

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Posted in Law: Tax | 10 Comments

Convention Foolishness

I was not at all happy to see Rev. Al Sharpton who—despite his recent rash of semi-statesmanlike conduct—has a history of demagoguery, being treated seriously this week. Not only did the Democrats give him speaking time, but CNN used him extensively as a regular commentator.

Now comes news that the GOP may have found someone even worse than Sharpton to put front and center in their convention! The Carpetbagger Report says that it seems the GOP may ask Falwell to give an invocation.

I admit that I used to have a soft spot for Falwell. He used racially mixed audiences in his show. He seemed cleaner than, say, the Bakers. And he took a vacation from politics to concentrate on religion when all the TV preachers were getting indicted. (Yes, 1989 was a convenient time to leave the TV evangelism/politics thing, the bloom was off the rose, but his claim that he felt a need to concentrate on spiritual issues was nonetheless plausible.) He seemed horribly wrong, but sincere, and up to a point I like sincere better than apathetic.

But then he lost it. First he endorsed felon Oliver North for Senate. Then in the late '90s he got back into politics. (According to this summary I learn he'd never 'left' as much as I thought anyway.)

Then Falwell attacked Tinky Winky, one of the Teletubbies (a UK children's show), claiming the character was a gay icon (he, gasp, carries a red purse in some episodes).

Then Falwell really went too far, saying, a few days after the 9/11 attacks:

“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'”

Yes, Falwell later offered a non-apology apology, but even so, could the GOP really put this man on stage in New York?

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Posted in Politics: US: 2004 Election | 7 Comments

Is Florida’s Temporary Gas Tax Cut a Bribe To Voters?

Maybe I'm too paranoid. When I first heard about the state of Florida's temporary eight cent cut in gas taxes, this is what I imagined:

Suppose you are the Governor of Florida, and you are worried that the voters are restive. Gas prices are up, and people tend to blame the government for that, and then maybe take it out on your brother at the election. Which would not just cost you in the family, but vastly reduce your chances of being the nominee in four years.

Fortunately, your party has a big majority in the legislature (not, however, in the popular vote for the legislature, but that's ok, as you know how to draw legislative districts). So you enact an eight cent drop in the gas taxes — effective only in August.

It's a nice conspiracy theory. But having checked around, I think it's not true.

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The Center for American Progress Leaves No Spin Unturned

The Center for American Progress leaves no stone unturned. Witness the full text of the mass email I got from them today:

“The First Family…does not snack…They are very good at respecting meal time hours and do not eat between meals…there is no snacking…”

– White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier,, 7/27/04


“President Bush fainted for a brief time Sunday in the residence of the White House while eating a pretzel and watching a professional football game on television.”

CNN, 1/14/02

(Of course maybe that's why they don't snack anymore?)

More seriously, it's this sort of 'war room' response—especially on the serious stuff—that wins elections nowadays.

Posted in Politics: US: 2004 Election | Comments Off on The Center for American Progress Leaves No Spin Unturned