Wednesday Night #1833

Written by  //  April 26, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1833

On Tuesday night, we were at Place des Arts for the premiere of the French version of the splendid documentary Expo 67: Mission impossible in which Diana plays a small part. Quite an event, complete with red carpet, TV interviews, too-long speeches by assorted levels of government, including the Mayor.
All of which was compensated by the very enthusiastic audience,  wonderful encounters with old friends, former colleagues and many other interesting people. Happy to see a number of Wednesday Nighters there and would urge others not able to come to join us on Saturday at Victoria Hall in Westmount at 7p.m. See Westmount Magazine for details and Wanda Potrykus’ glowing review.

Meanwhile, of course, the world continues to wobble on its axis.

The French election first round  results were not altogether unanticipated, but now the tension increases in the run-up to the second round on May 7 and there are some worries that Macron could be his own worst enemy, as critics take him to task for exuberant celebration of the first-round victory, while others are concerned that Russian hackers could intervene. There is also a fly in the political ointment in the guise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of his own “France Unsubjugated” movement, , who finished a strong fourth in Sunday’s voting,  and has refused to endorse Macron.

Ivanka is in Berlin, participating in  a high-powered panel discussion at the W20 Summit, a women-focused effort within the Group of 20 countries, entitled Inspiring Women: Scaling up Women’s Entrepreneurship. It looks as though she might be a wee bit over her head in the company of Christine Lagarde, Chrystia Freeland and Angela Merkel. However, it seems that the German Chancellor is using the same approach as Justin Trudeau: cultivate Ivanka in the hope that she really is the Donald whisperer.
Her influence is more questionable with the report that Donald Trump to strip all funding from State Department team promoting women’s rights around the worldLeaked plan comes as First Daughter Ivanka defends her father’s record with women
Stephen Colbert is devastating [After Ivanka Trump was booed in Berlin, Stephen Colbert added insult to injury.] , concluding with a great parting shot “because they’ve had trouble moving Ivanka’s line of clothing, so they secretly relabeled it as Adrienne Vittadini. That’s how unpopular the ‘Trump’ name is right now. Her clothing has been put in the Witness Protection Program.” 

Donald Trump may have been somewhat intimidated by the idea of starting a nuclear war,  so for some distraction, he is now picking on his norther neighbor
Why Trump is starting a trade war with Canada
(Politico) The president can look tough on tariffs against a country that has little room to retaliate.
The Commerce Department on Monday announced a preliminary decision to hit more than $5 billion worth of softwood lumber imports from Canada with tariffs of up to 24 percent. The announcement comes on the heels of Trump continuing to hammer Canadian policies that have effectively blocked certain U.S. dairy exports north of the border. Bloomberg  generally  agrees with the Politico analysis, but points out that “Despite the U.S. benefiting from the status quo — Canada often has a trade deficit with the U.S. outside of oil, its lumber makes U.S. homes cheaper, and the dairy market is tilted in the U.S.’s favor — trade tensions are near a boiling point.”   Trudeau’s Reward for Courting Trump Is a Trade War on Lumber

The Atlantic notes that As Congress struggles to strike a deal on a spending bill this week, President Trump is renewing his calls for the government to fund a wall on the Mexican border. But for all his insistence on Twitter, Trump has indicated he’d back down on the demand to avoid a government shutdown—which makes the second time his opponents in Congress have called his bluff.

On Tuesday, the NYT reported:
President Trump plans to unveil a tax cut blueprint on Wednesday that would apply a vastly reduced, 15 percent business tax rate not only to corporations but also to companies that now pay taxes through the personal income tax code — from mom-and-pop businesses to his own real estate empire, according to several people briefed on the proposal.
The package would also increase the standard deduction for individuals, providing a modest cut for middle-income people and simplifying the process of filing tax returns, according to people briefed on its details. That proposal is opposed by home builders and real estate agents, who fear it would diminish the importance of the mortgage interest deduction. And it is likely to necessitate eliminating or curbing other popular deductions, a politically risky pursuit.
As of late Tuesday, the plan did not include Mr. Trump’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure program, two of the people said, and it jettisoned a House Republican proposal to impose a substantial tax on imports, known as a border adjustment tax, which would have raised billions of dollars to help offset the cost of the cuts.
With that decision, Mr. Trump acceded to pressure from retailers and conservative advocacy groups, but the move could deepen the challenge of passing a broad tax overhaul in Congress, where concern about the swelling federal deficit runs high. His plan would put off the difficult part of a tax overhaul: closing loopholes and increasing other taxes to limit the impact of tax cuts on the budget deficit.

In the it’s the economy, stupid category, Jeffrey Sachs asks Will Economic Illiteracy Trigger a Trade War?  Writing in Project Syndicate, Professor Sachs pulls no punches: “Donald Trump and his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, continue to commit an economic fallacy that first-year economics students learn to avoid. They claim that America’s current-account deficit (or trade deficit), which is in fact the result of America’s low and falling saving rate, is an indicator of unfair trade practices by Germany and China, two current-account surplus countries. Their embrace of economic ignorance could lead to disaster.” And the NYT raises the spectre of Arthur Laffer, “President Trump is reviving the so-called Laffer curve as he announces the broad outlines of a tax overhaul on Wednesday. What the first President George Bush once called “voodoo economics” is back, as Mr. Trump’s advisers argue that deep cuts in corporate taxes will ultimately pay for themselves with an explosion of new business and job creation.

The exact contours of the plan remained murky and Mr. Trump will not produce a fully realized proposal on Wednesday. But what the president has called a tax reform plan is looking more like a tax cut plan, showering taxpayers with rate reductions without offsetting the full cost by closing loopholes or raising taxes elsewhere.”

A couple of intriguing items about the Murdochs. The first is a profile of Rupert’s two sons and what their interests and attitudes may mean for the media empire (In House of Murdoch, Sons Set About an Elaborate Overhaul). The second concerns Rupert Murdoch’s apparently highly influential relationship with Donald Trump. In Trump Reaches Beyond West Wing for Counsel we learn that “The president’s relationship with Mr. Murdoch is deeper and more enduring than most in his life, and the two commiserate and plot strategy in their phone calls, according to people close to both.”

In the category of schadenfreude:  Breitbart News was denied permanent congressional press credentials after it failed to demonstrate its independence from the Trump administration and from lobbying groups.

As of Monday night, Westmount has a new Mayor Christina Smith sworn in as Westmount’s new mayor – hard to get used to the idea. Meanwhile, Wayne Larsen wrote for Westmount Magazine: Peter Trent’s war for Westmount’s autonomy
The “Hands off my city” campaign was a unifying grassroots initiative

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