Sunday, December 31, 2017

Trump May Push Infrastructure Plan After Tax Bill Win

The Trump administration is signaling that it may be willing to tackle an infrastructure plan following its success in pushing forward its tax plan this month. Moves for increases in infrastructure spending, unlike the GOP attempts at tax reform, have been supported by several Democrats and may have a chance to receive bipartisan support.

Trump may announce his plans for infrastructure in his upcoming State of the Union speech in 2018.
The infrastructure plan may cost upwards of $1 trillion, but will not all come out the federal treasury. A portion will be paid by the federal government, while state and local governments, along with private companies and investors, will also contribute to the projects laid out in any plan.

Increases in infrastructure spending have long been the goal of numerous politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, with projects including new roads, bridges, terminals, etc. However, concerns over increases to the national debt (already an issue with the recently passed tax bill) could pose an issue, especially with Republicans.

Republicans Pass Tax Law, What It Means for Americans

Republicans passed the first major overhaul to the United States tax code in over thirty years this month, with President Donald Trump saying the plan will “deliver more jobs, higher wages, and massive tax relief for American families and for American companies.”

The plan was pushed by Republican leaders after the GOP Congress wanted to deliver a major piece of legislation before the year’s end, and thus deliver Trump a legislative achievement in his first year, and to pass it while they still held a 52-48 majority in the Senate after they lost a seat as a result of the Alabama special election.

The new law reduces  the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, moving the rate from among the highest in the developed world to more in line with the tax rates of other countries. In addition, it shaves off the tax rate across the board while keeping the seven tax brackets. These cuts to the individual tax rates, unlike the corporate tax rate cut, is temporary and will expire in 2025.
It also caps deductions for local and state taxes at $10,000, which can lead to higher taxes for those living in highly taxed states, such as New York, California, and Illinois.

The bill was unanimously opposed by Democrats in both houses of Congress and was opposed by a number of Republicans in the House who came from highly taxed states.

The new tax cuts are projected to add more than $1 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, accounting for lost revenues stemming from the lower rates but also possible increased revenue as businesses and individuals have more money to invest, thus increasing economic activity.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Fire in Bronx Kills 12, Worst in New York City in a Decade

A fire in an apartment complex in the Bronx killed 12 people after it broke out on Thursday night, injuring even more. The fire is the worst to break out in New York City since 2007, in which a fire, also in the Bronx, resulted from an overheated space heater cord killed 10.

The fire Thursday night is believed to have been caused by a child playing with a stove and causing a fire. The child escaped with his mother, but the fire soon spread across the apartment complex. Firefighters had difficulty fighting it as the cold weather had frozen the water for their hoses.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Zimbabwe Strongman Robert Mugabe Ousted

Longtime president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe resigned his position on November 21, ending his 37 year long hold on power on the African country. Mugabe had ruled the country since its transition from the white supremacist Rhodesia, which had declared its independence from Britain during the African decolonization period, and Mugabe was active in the struggle against the Rhodesian government.

Mugabe, who at 93 was the oldest head of state at his resignation, was at one time hailed as a leader of African nationalist politics for his role in establishing Zimbabwe. However, his management of the nation’s politics and economy led to massive corruption, economic decline, and hyperinflation. His land reform efforts, which took away land holdings from all white citizens and gave it to black citizens, many of whom had little farming experience, caused the nation to experience food shortages. However, his fatal error was his attempt to establish his wife, Grace, as his successor. Her unpopularity gave the military the needed support to stage a coup and lead to his former right hand man, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to succeed him.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Five Hundred Years Since Martin Luther's 95 Theses

Tuesday marks the 500th year anniversary of Martin Luther writing his Ninety Five Theses, which often cited as the starting point for the Protestant Reformation. Luther is believed to have posted his piece to the door of the All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany, where public displays were usually posted.

Copy of Luther's original 95 Theses
The Protestant Reformation threw the Western Christian world into tumult for centuries afterwards, as the Roman Catholic Church worked to respond to the movement and rise of new denominations, and the Protestant churches found both opposition and support among various monarchs in Europe (one of the most notable cases, King Henry VIII of England transitioned from Catholicism to Anglicanism after the pope would not approve a divorce from his first wife).