If taxes are the thunder of world history, what kind of history did the GOP make this past week?

Schumpeter famously said that taxes are the “thunder of world history.” So what kind of history did the Republicans make this past week?

Here I am in The Guardian, answering that question with four takeaways on the GOP tax bill.

The piece is a kind of digest of some of my posting on social media this past week; increasingly as some of you have noted, I’m doing more of my posting on social media rather than on the blog. If you’re not on Facebook and/or Twitter—and who can blame you if you’re not?—you’ll have missed these posts, so The Guardian piece is a good digest to look out for.


  1. mark December 9, 2017 at 12:01 pm | #

    I looked at US debt to GDP last week and was surprised to see it is around 105%.

    In the UK, where the Conservatives under Thatcher did not increase government debt as happened with the contemporaneous Reagan tax cuts, it sits today at around 80%.

    Out of World War Two the UK debt was about 250%.

  2. jonnybutter December 9, 2017 at 12:50 pm | #

    Jane McAlevey argues that, unlike during Obamacare repeal votes, it was the relative lack of big industry players opposing the tax bill that doomed that opposition. WSJ is paywalled so I can’t immediately read who big, other than the NBHA, was opposed. And not sure how vehemently they were opposed. Home mortgage deduction is why, presumably.

    • jonnybutter December 11, 2017 at 5:09 pm | #

      I bet there are lurkers here who know more about the tax code than I, but I can do arithmetic and I’d say the home mortgage interest deduction is not progressive anyway, so…interesting GOP willing to flout the NBHA a little, but they aren’t getting rid of the deduction entirely; it’s going down – for *new* builds, hence the NBHA interest – to $500k from $1million per couple. People spending that dough on a new house (could be their second house too) don’t really need a tax break on their mortgage interest, and I’m sure they will get something to offset hurt feelings – like a huge standard deduction.

  3. Chris Morlock December 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm | #

    I agree on Corey’s takeaways. If we turn on CNN and hear the Dems crowing about spending it’s going to take American politics to the next level of twilight zone. It’s no secret that the tea party, the un-freedom caucus as Corey likes to call them, is thoroughly tied in an eternal pretzel over Trumpism. How must they feel knowing that their entire core belief of depriving all tax revenue to the feds is a distant memory after this free give away trillion dollar tax hike?

    But my question to all is: what is so bad about the Trump tax cut (hike, really)? It’s a free give away on almost all levels, truth be told, with the reality being that the main part of it is the 15% corporate tax cut (everything else is just window dressing for the main show). Sure, it’s irresponsible. Sure it weakens the last remnants of the New Deal. Sure it does little or nothing for working people.

    If I remember correctly last time this happened, the market did crash within a year of the cuts.

    So we are really wondering what happens when the next economic crisis develops,. and at that point it all comes down to who is in power. Because at that point America will have to “monetarily ease” itself back into a position of solvency, ala Bush/Obama. Either that, or they will finally have to address the big three – medicare., social security, and the military. If it’s Trump bye bye medicare and social security. If it’s Sanders then bye bye Military. If it’s a corporate Dem, nothing will happen, or it will just get worse.

    • James Levy December 12, 2017 at 9:09 am | #

      The problem with these tax cuts is that they will balloon the deficit, which in turn will be used to justify massive cuts to Medicaid, environmental protection, and alternatives to greenhouse gas emitting legacy technologies. It will also put more money in the hands of corporations and the kleptocrats who control them, thus, in our wonderful world where money is speech, empower them even more than they are today. I’d say that’s a pretty lousy outcome.

  4. Billikin December 9, 2017 at 3:26 pm | #

    Having listened to the 1812 Overture, I kinda doubt that taxes are the “thunder of world history.” Besides, it was not exactly apparent to me what Schumpeter meant, and, I am afraid, the linked article did not clarify for me what he meant, either. So I did a web search with DuckDuckGo. Here is what I found.

    “The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure, the deeds its policy may prepare – all this and more is written in its fiscal history, stripped of all phrases.He who knows how to listen to its message here discerns the thunder of world history more clearly than anywhere else.”- Joseph Schumpeter [1918] 1991 ( https://tax.network/iwilliammartin/the-thunder-of-history-the-origins-and-development-of-the-new-fiscal-sociology/ ).

    The word, “taxes”, does not appear in that quotation, but the term “fiscal history” does. Schumpeter’s statement makes sense to me in light of the saying about putting your money where your mouth is. Surely where a people decides to spend its money says a lot about its spirit, its culture, its social structure, and its policies, along with how it carries them out. Who and how it taxes does not seem to me to carry so much information.

    • Billikin December 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm | #

      P. S. I am quite willing to stand corrected in my interpretation if the context shows that Schumpeter meant fiscal in the narrow sense. 🙂

  5. Bert Rubash December 9, 2017 at 9:14 pm | #

    Cory wrote: “If you’re not on Facebook and/or Twitter—and who can blame you if you’re not?—you’ll have missed these posts …”

    I’m sorry to read that. Moves like that into a more private internet space feels somewhat coercive. I’m not willing to be coerced to join either of them, but I will miss reading political and social analysis that I value. I think from what we’ve learned in the last few years about social media’s business models, it is time for progressives to be abandoning those spaces, not moving to them.

  6. jonnybutter December 10, 2017 at 2:58 pm | #

    Using social media isn’t optional anymore, IMO. But there’s no law that it has to be Facebook, or Twitter, or any particular platform- although certain quarters are working on ‘nailing down’ some of that monopoly power as we speak. Funny that ‘libertarians’ are trying to gum up the closest thing to their ideal of a frictionless economy.

    • Dean C. Rowan December 10, 2017 at 7:39 pm | #

      I want to quibble a little. Of course social media are optional. One can lead a happy, fulfilling, successful life off the FB/Twitter/Instagram/etc. grid. But what about comments boards like this one? These, too, are media, and media by definition implicate social interactions to greater or lesser degrees. In that respect, they are less optional. However, I don’t think “any particular platform” will do, because network effect rules. The wider the society mediated, the more “value” (measured somehow) to the participants. The very best social media platform in terms of technical execution and norms of behavior won’t be all that helpful if nobody participates.

  7. jonnybutter December 10, 2017 at 9:25 pm | #

    Of course social media are optional.

    I don’t think social media are entirely optional for full political and news, er, engagement. Of course you can live a life just fine without. BTW, I think of blogs as social media also. BTW #2, I spend as little time as possible on FB – don’t miss it at all.

    I know what the network effect is. Does that mean it’s Facebook Forever? I doubt it. Might be nearly impossible to replace FB or Twitter with alt-FB or alt-Twitter. But something else? Why not? If the internet stays neutral…

    • Dean December 11, 2017 at 12:52 pm | #

      Yes, it probably is Facebook Forever. Like McDonald’s, billions and billions served. I agree that blogs are social media, but one can pick and choose blogs as one once selectively subscribed to newspapers or magazines, or as one declines to dine at McDonald’s, preferring instead the local mom-and-pop burger joint. There is less flexibility to pick a Twitter-like platform; it’s all or nothing, pretty much. Corey seems to be preparing to shutter his grill and open a franchise.

      • jonnybutter December 11, 2017 at 1:46 pm | #

        Nothing is forever Dean. Also, bad as it can be, Twitter is all *about* picking and choosing sources. I use it as a gigantic news/information aggregator. I don’t know how you get what Twitter offers with blogs or news sites (e.g. google news) which aggregate for you.

        What makes twitter useful for me is the creative use of high levels of abstraction along with a large and relatively democratic variety of voices. I can’t handle FB because it’s so full of ads, its settings are deliberately baffling, its posting algorithms are likewise baffling, and I don’t particularly like or trust Zuck, either as the the guy who runs FB, nor as a potential politician. Twitter is incompetently run, but maybe that is better bc it’s more ‘wild west’, or perhaps the nature of the platform itself just works better for me.

        To each their own. My original comment was about fulfilling the role of engaged citizen: the forces of reaction use the hell out of social media so I feel it’s not optional for us, on the other side. There are definitely serious drawbacks though, so everybody has to decide for themselves what to do.

        • Dean December 11, 2017 at 2:17 pm | #

          I’m in complete agreement re: FB and MZ, and I do understand the incentives for using Twitter. I read precisely one Twitter feed: Glenn Greenwald’s. It keeps me apprised of Intercept material, naturally, but it also prompts me not to read beyond his feed. I can’t imagine reading, say, a dozen or even dozens of feeds.

          • jonnybutter December 11, 2017 at 8:39 pm | #

            Now Amazon, OTOH, yeah, we might be stuck with them for a good long while.

          • jonnybutter December 11, 2017 at 8:41 pm | #

            SORRY – wrong link. Here it is

      • jonnybutter December 11, 2017 at 1:51 pm | #

        See above comment re: FB. Yes, it’s bad. But I follow individual reporters from NYT, Intercept, EFF, and a few hundred other reporters, scientists, academics, writers, etc. on Twitter. As I said, it’s not perfect, and it seems to be getting worse. But much better than FB for information. But to each their own, right? Whatever works for you

        • jonnybutter December 11, 2017 at 1:52 pm | #

          the above comment was to Bert. sorry

  8. Bert Rubash December 11, 2017 at 10:58 am | #

    I should have been more specific. I should have said Facebook and Twitter’s business models, not “social media’s business models”. For political activists, Facebook participation can actually be dangerous. I personally know people who face criminal prosecution for participating in a Dakota Access Pipeline protest who would not be charged but for Facebook.

    The NYTimes Op-Ed writer Zeynep Tufekci, the security expert Bruce Schneier, and of course the Electronic Frontier Foundation are good sources of information about reasons to be careful and informed about social media. Avoiding the worst of them isn’t all that hard, and most online news, blogs, discussion groups, and such are actually better sources of news and information, and better means for online social and political engagement.

    I think, for instance, for news it is best to rely on organizations like the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Intercept, and others that actually employ reporters, instead of allowing social media to match news to the profile that computer algorithms have created about me.

  9. jonnybutter December 17, 2017 at 10:51 am | #

    Sorry to blab so much on this thread, but since it’s too late now to be restrained..

    Here’s a link to an article with the full text of the wretched tax bill – what a POS it is!


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