Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Is Detachment From Reality A Condition For Serving As A Senator From South Dakota?

     After reading today's op-ed in the Rapid City Journal, in which South Dakota Senator
Here's A Sliver For Ya
Mike Rounds argues that "the benefits of tax reform continue," I'm tempted to say the answer is "yes." Oblivious to reality, Rounds says the Trump administration's Tax Cut And Jobs Act is a "win for farmers." 
As his main example in the piece, Rounds touts how doubling the tax exemption on estates from $5.5 million to $11 million is one of those "wins" for farmers.  This is actually laughable, as The Tax Policy Center found that last year there were a grand total of 80 farms and businesses nationwide that would have been forced to pay taxes over the $5.5 million threshold.  As to South Dakota, about a dozen estates had to pay the tax in 2016.  I'm surprised the number is even that large, considering that we have some competent estate-planners in law offices around the state who probably could have used their skills to minimize the tax liabilities of those 12 estates.  A wealthy handful of people got a nice break, but the vast majority of smaller estates gained nothing--which is consistent with the overall weighting of benefits from the tax cut, the brunt of which went to the rich.  The Center On Budget And Policy Priorities just released its findings on the effects of Trump's reforms and concluded as much.
     And how have South Dakota farmers fared, in the context of all that's going on?  Even Rounds concedes that the tax law has given them just a "sliver of relief and certainty."  A sliver?  Yes, a sliver.  Good grief almighty, this man has some chutzpah.  Farm bankruptcies have doubled in the upper Midwest during the past few years and Minneapolis Fed analyst Ron Wirtz expects that trend to continue.  Farm income, as even Rounds concedes, has been down 50 percent in the past five years.  Meantime, trade uncertainty has the whole farm belt twisted in financial knots, with Nebraska farmers having already lost $1 billion to Trump's tariff madness according to that state's Farm Bureau.  I have yet to see an assessment of how South Dakota farmers are weathering this storm, but I doubt it's much better than their Nebraska counterparts.  And as farmers look off to Washington, D.C., to see how their Congressional reps are supporting them, Rounds reassures them with a "sliver" of relief.
     Meantime, as Rounds touts his party's tax cut, he overlooks a few points.  Mentioning the 2 million jobs created this year, he doesn't notice that more than 2 million were created in 2016, the year before Trump took office.  2 million is fine, but we've been there, done that--and under Obama's watch.  Rounds correctly notes that incomes are rising, but that's more a function of people working more hours, not because they're getting better pay.  Forbes notes  that real wages are actually falling.  Yes, unemployment is low, but the Brookings Institution says the aging population has accelerated retirements and boosted labor participation as a result.  Much of this is about demographics, not tax cuts.
     What Rounds misses altogether, and I have no doubt that it was intentional, is the financial havoc that the tax cuts are wreaking on our country's budget.  The tax cut that Rounds is so proud of has resulted in a shortfall of more than $200 billion this year, which is the amount of revenues the government lost to the GOP tax bonanza to the rich.  Our federal debt is about to explode, and Rounds is completely mum about it.  The Republican mantra about the recent gusher of red ink being a function of "entitlement" spending is a bunch of bull, which they'll try to sell to the public with the same gusto that they used for pushing their tax cut.


  1. Problem is John, our two US Senators before them, were exactly the same. I wrote to both of them and Janklow on first Bush tax cut and two Daschle and Johnson again and Herseth on the second Bush tax cut, pleading with them to vote against those cuts, but all of them voted for the tax cuts, even though we were about to be in and then, were in two wars. Anyone who has the illusion that politicians from either party are in DC to do our bidding isn't paying attention. They are there to serve the puppet masters. That is why I so wanted Tim Bjorkman to get the US House seat. He refused to take the puppet masters' money. I am pretty sure that he would have worked for us.

    This jobs creation malarkey goes back to Reagan's tax cuts and this is the fifth time that it has been tried. Ain't worked yet and never will. Seems that the old adage is applicable. "The surest sign of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results."

  2. So in SD only a dozen farmers had to pay the estate tax in 2016? Now we know who Rounds works for. As if we didn't before...

  3. Drumpf's assistants in the Kremlin Annex pointed out the debt will take a bigly upswing in a few years. Drumpf's reply is he will be long gone and someone else will get the blame.

    Also and too, still yet- many Drumpf voters claim he turned the economy around. From what? The stock market was already in record territory before Drumpf was sworn in.

  4. When you have people serving in office that doesn't understand the service part. They serve themselves first, then party, then the people.

  5. I've long suspected Senator Rounds ran for the Senate to establish his credentials to become a K Street Lobbyist. Film at 11:00.