A sitting U.S. president who can’t stop attacking black and brown people. A never-ending trade war that has necessitated more than one multibillion-dollar farm bailout. A humanitarian crisis on the border of his own state. These are just a handful of the many issues that Senator Ted Cruz could be focused on. Instead, he’s currently devoting his efforts to a much more important cause: demanding another tax cut for the rich, this time without Congress’s approval.
In a letter sent to Steve Mnuchin on Monday, the senator from Texas urged the Treasury Secretary to use his “authority” to index capital gains to inflation, a move that would almost exclusively benefit the mega-rich. Claiming, falsely, that the United States economy “has experienced historic levels of growth as a result of Congress and the current administration’s policies such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Cruz insists that it is now crucial for the Treasury Department to adjust capital gains for inflation “so that everyday Americans can continue to enjoy better lives and livelihoods.” And by “everyday Americans,” he of course means (but doesn’t say) the spectacularly wealthy.
Missing from Cruz’s call for Mnuchin to use “executive authority” to end this “unfair” treatment of taxpayers, which was signed by 20 of his Republican colleagues, is the fact that, according to the Penn Wharton Budget model, a whopping 86% of the benefit of indexing capital gains to inflation would go to the 1 percent (and reduce annual tax revenue by an estimated $102 billion over a decade). Perhaps seeking to address this criticism, Cruz claimed that changing how capital gains are taxed “would…unlock capital for investment, increase wages, create new jobs, and grow the economy, benefiting Americans across all income levels.” In other words, he’s arguing that the executive branch should give the super-rich another tax cut and it’ll benefit everyone because of trickle-down economics which—checks notes—has never actually worked. Including in the case of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
In a sign of just how unpopular a tax cut for the rich sans Congressional approval would be, even Trump’s Treasury Secretary, née America’s Foreclosure King, reportedly isn’t into the idea:
Mnuchin, so far, has been hesitant to making the change, which Trump’s other top economic advisers support.
“Right now there’s no commitment to getting it done or not getting it done,” Mnuchin told Bloomberg News in an interview earlier this month. “It’s a policy that has been under consideration and remains under consideration.”
On the other hand, Trump has reportedly “told confidants...that he remains deeply invested in making the change,” and his National Economic Council chair, Larry Kudlow, has been pushing for it since he was hired. Also, as Bloomberg points out, “Trump is looking for issues to win favor with voters and donors during his 2020 reelection campaign,” so perhaps the rich will get another well-deserved break.
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Did it involve nude people wrapped in cellophane? Cause Wilbur Ross’s did:
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and wife Hilary Geary were spotted checking out some bizarre performance art at the Watermill Center benefit Saturday in the Hamptons. “He was walking the grounds with two agents,” says a spy. “The bodyguards seemed surprised by the environment.” The event featured giant, rooster-like creatures playing music on a roof, nude people wrapped in cellophane, a woman in a white mask throwing a giant die, a naked man digging in sand and a man wrestling a giant fly puppet in the dirt.
Ross, who is reportedly an art collector, was presumably seeking to get his mind off of recent reports that his department is a “disaster” and meetings have to be planned around his naps, a charge he has strenuously denied, blaming it on “disgruntled former employees.”
Billionaire hedge fund manager warns of coming class warfare from 180-foot boat
Sure, it’s a “research” vessel and not, like, a luxury yacht, but still, perhaps not the best venue from which to raise the alarm about wealth inequality. Maybe also nix the private helicopter? Just a thought! Here’s CBS recounting the afternoon:
When a billionaire invites you to his boat, you gotta go…. Especially if he sends a chopper to take you. “Alucia” is a 180-foot long research ship and Ray Dalio’s pride and joy. Dalio, who loves scuba diving, bought it nine years ago. He wouldn’t tell us for how much, but he had it decked out with scientific gear—including submarines that can dive a half mile…. Before we go deeper—we should tell you what’s on his mind. Dalio, who grew up middle class, is alarmed about the growing divide between the haves and have-nots. He points out that over the span of a decade, America’s lowest paid workers had just a 14% chance of rising to the middle class.
Dalio, who is worth an estimated $18 billion, goes on to tell reporter Bill Whitaker that “capitalism needs to be reformed” and at this “juncture” we can do it together, or it will occur through “a conflict between the rich and the poor.” At this point, he estimates that “it’s probably 60–40, 65–35 that it will probably be done badly” through conflict, with the poor eating the rich for dinner when the revolution comes. Of course, he’s not wrong that wealth inequality is a major issue that needs to be addressed urgently, but perhaps the odds of “doing it together” in a peaceful way might be higher if he avoided doing interviews from a boat that presumably costs more than many people will make in a lifetime. Just spitballing!
JPMorgan, UBS Among Banks Facing $1 Billion FX-Rigging Suit (Bloomberg)
Uber to Cut About 400 Employees, Citing Worry of Slowing Growth (Bloomberg)
Elizabeth Warren wants to dramatically rewrite the rules on negotiating trade deals (CNBC)
Citi Plans Hundreds of Trading Job Cuts as Revenue Declines (Bloomberg)
Teen Wins $3 Million Prize in First Fortnite World Cup Tournament (Bloomberg)
— How Paul Manafort tricked Donald Trump into making Mike Pence his V.P.
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