Saturday, April 29, 2017

Trump Tax Reform

President Trump released his tax reform proposal this week.  The focus is to increase economic growth by cutting both personal and business taxes and simplifying the tax code.   Details are in short supply, but it appears it is underpinned by the Trump Campaign tax plan.  Using that document one might gain some insight into the impact on families should the reforms be implemented.

Trump proposes to simplify the tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three:  10%, 25%, and 35%. The standard deduction for a married couple would double to $24,000.   The “death” tax and alternative minimum tax would be eliminated.  Child and dependent care expenses would be deductible.   Business tax rates would lower to 15% and the maximum dividend and capital gain tax rate would slip to 20%.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Attack North Korea?

Was the failed North Korean launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine on April 15th incompetence or a hack by the U.S.?  Is the nearly 90% failure rate of launch tests of the 2,200 mile Musudan missile incompetence or hacking?  One can only hope that the U.S. has and has exercised such a capability.  If not, are the Chinese responsible?   Again, one can only hope.

Stability in the home, office, army, country, or world is brought about by the expectation of a code of behavior that is reinforced by the clear and consistent application of rules.  A system of incentive and disincentive buttresses the system – it is called discipline.   When expectations are unclear, rules are inconsistently applied, discipline is not enforced, or threats are idle - the undisciplined grow emboldened.  North Korea is the perfect example of the failure of this system.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

South Coast Rail a Mistake

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker should cancel the South Coast Rail project and re-purpose the nearly $3.4 billion capital funding and long term operating costs into a regional capital trust fund to support regional economic development on the South Coast and on Cape Cod through grants and low or no interest lending.   Municipalities and regional consortia could tap these funds for economic development and potentially leverage them for federal funding through existing programs or any potential infrastructure law.

In September, 2016 the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the MBTA announced the South Coast Rail project will cost $3.4 billion - a more than 50 percent increase over the original $2.23 billion estimate – and the original completion date of 2022 was extended to 2030.  More recently, the MBTA began investigating an interim route via the Middleborough line using diesel trains while simultaneously pursuing development of the preferred Stoughton electric line.