Before we get started, I want to thank all of you for reading. Today’s Two Minute Drill marks the 100th article published to Of Politics and Men since our founding in September 2012. This milestone would not have been reached without your unwavering support, for which I am eternally grateful. I am putting together a collection of some of our best articles to mark this occasion and will release that collection in the coming weeks. This is just the beginning of our story. Here’s to the next 100. – Vox
In the Two Minute Drill, we explain complex issues in politics in 250 words or less (roughly the amount of words it takes the average adult two minutes to read on a monitor). Politics just isn’t always that complicated. Without the fluff and partisan bias, even the most complex of our political differences can be explained succinctly. This week: initial impressions of the Republican tax reform proposal.
On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mi.) introduced tax reform legislation that calls for lowering income tax rates for most Americans and businesses, but also reducing the value of or eliminating entirely key tax breaks, too. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the plan “the beginning of [a] conversation” lawmakers need to have about tax reform. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, was doubtful tax reform would pass in the current session of Congress. Here’s the thing, though: Nobody expects tax reform to happen with mid-term elections in November. Still, Camp’s proposal is significant. It is important to know what’s actually in the GOP’s big new tax reform package.
The Explanation (250 or Bust)
Camp’s proposal makes numerous changes to the personal and business tax codes, but here is a brief explanation of the impact of the proposals on taxpayers and the economy.
First, Camp’s proposal would consolidate today’s seven tax brackets into three main brackets. Second, the proposal would reduce taxes for nearly very household making less than $100,000 a year; taxes would rise slightly for people earning over $100,000 a year. Third, the proposal would eliminate many tax deductions and exemptions, more than offsetting the reduction in tax rates (the plan, as a result, is effectively revenue neutral). Fourth, the proposal would grow the economy a modest 0.1 to 1.5 percent (on top of inflation).
This is not to suggest that Camp’s proposal is sound policy. While it includes many good ideas, it remains committed to failed trickle-down economics. Moreover, it largely avoids the tough details. Camp’s proposal uses a host of timing gimmicks to produce short-term revenue gains; it spares oil drillers while sticking it to green energy; and it raises taxes on some categories of poor families.
It is, however, a step in the right direction.
In the past, Republicans have used the notion of “tax reform” as a pretense to shift the tax burden off the rich. And Republicans have often resorted to gesturing in the direction of reform without following through. But Dave Camp’s tax proposal does something remarkable: It actually reforms the tax code. By any fair account, it is an impressive and ambitious effort.
Word Count: 250
The Five Most Interesting Things We’ve Read This Week
Here are the five most interesting articles (both political and non-political) we’ve read this week:
- “He had never been knocked down. His ring name, Dr. Ironfist, is a testament to both his hitting power and his status as the only world champion ever to hold a Ph.D.” Michael Daly at The Daily Beast: Here’s What It’s Like to Fight Vitali Klitschko, Ukraine’s Revolutionary Champ.
- “And then there was all the money requiring cleaning, tons of that too, literally, barrels and cratefuls of cash coming in every week: What to do with the boxes of it left over once the bodyguards, spies, goons, hit men, police officers, judges, mayors, governors, customs officials, army generals, prison guards, railroad workers, trucking bosses, journalists, ranch hands, relatives, cabinet ministers, bank officers, helicopter, jet, and airplane pilots, business associates, and barbers have been paid off? This last item is not negligible; the person who comes in to wield scissors very close to your neck once a month or so and monitor your half-hearted attempts at a disguise – a moustache, a dye job – is someone you definitely want to tip richly if you’re Joaquín ‘Chapo’ Guzmám.” From the NY Review of Books: The Kingpin at Rest.
- “Taken together, we’re observing the emergency of tech that doesn’t just augment our intellect and lives – but is now beginning to automate and outsource our humanity.” From Wired’s Evan Selinger: Today’s Apps Are Turning Us Into Sociopaths.
- “If scientific accuracy in the public sphere is your jam, is there really that much of a difference between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham, who seems to have made a career marketing pseudoscience about the origins of the world, and John Mackey, a founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, who seems to have made a career, in part, out of marketing pseudoscience about health?” No, not much. “[T]here’s a lot in your average whole foods that’s resolutely pseudoscientific. The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver. The book section – yep, Whole Foods sells books – boasts many M.D.’s among its authors, along with titles like The Coconut Oil Miracle and Herbal Medicine, Healing, and Cancer, which was written by a theologian and based on what the author calls the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System.” From The Daily Beast: Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience.
- “I used to eat ‘regular food’ like every normal American, but when I was 15 or 16, I made the decision to become a vegetarian based on ethical reasoning . . . I also hate vegetables.” From Vice: This Man Has Survived on Pizza Alone For 25 Years. Extra – NPR explains why “you almost always get a much, much better deal when you buy a bigger pizza.”
And in case you missed it, check out The Weekly Column. This past week exposed the pseudoscience behind Subway and the chemical Azodicarbonomide. Read the Column – Azodicarbonamide and Pseudoscientific Fear Mongering.