5 Lies and Distortions in the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2016

  1. America has the highest marginal effective tax rate  (MERT) in the industrial world.  (editorial, “Ford’s Tango With Trump”.)Technically, this is true, but, as American Progress points out:

    Tax spending in the form of corporate tax breaks for certain groups of companies—such as oil and gas producers, insurance companies, U.S. multinationals, as well as others—amounts to more than $150 billion annually. These tax breaks enable companies to pay a much lower effective tax rate. In other words, these tax breaks dramatically reduce the amount of a corporation’s income that is subject to the 35 percent statutory corporate income tax rate, making their overall effective tax rate lower than the statutory rate—in some cases, much lower. For example, in a study that compared income companies reported on their 2010 financial books with income that they reported on their 2010 corporate tax returns, the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, found that profitable U.S. corporations paid an effective tax rate of 22.7 percent. In a 2012 report, the U.S. Department of the Treasury found that U.S. corporate effective tax rates were in the same range as those of its G7 trading partners despite the higher statutory corporate income tax rate in the United States.

  2. Health care costs are rising because of the burdens imposed by Obamacare.  9letter to the editor). Yes, health care costs are rising, but more slowly than average between 2013-16.  Health care costs will continue to rise after Obamacare has been repealed and replaced.
  3. “President Obama pledged to wield a pen and phone during his second term rather than engage with Congress.” (op-ed, “Trump Can Ax the Clean Power Plan by Executive Order”).  Obama actually tried early in his term, during 2013, to get bipartisan legislation on immigration reform, gun control, and a grand budget agreement, but to no avail.
  4. College learning outcomes are measured solely by how many graduates get jobs in their field immediately after graduation. (op-ed: “Entrepreneurial Solutions to Skyrocketing Tuition.”) Learning outcomes actually come in many forms–community service, and voluntarism,  critical thinking skills, citizenship skills, appreciating the arts,  working in teams, being able to pout together an argument using evidence, etc.
  5. We have to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal lest the Russians or Chinese unleash first-strike attacks.  (op-ed: “Trump’s Nuclear Deterrence challenge”) . This nuclear scare-mongering is based on Herman Kahn’s Mutually-Assured Destruction (MAD) theory, also extracted in today’s WSJ op-ed pages. Is the Journal paving the way for a new nuclear arms race with the Russians and Chinese? If so, Louis Menand’s reflections on Kahn’s deterrence mentality will ring true:

    the Cold War “ontology of the enemy”—the image of the adversary as a “cold-blooded, machinelike opponent . . . a mechanized Enemy Other.” The machine does not have ideals or values, issues on which it might compromise or goals that might encompass something other than its own aggrandizement. It wants only to win, and every move it makes is a move in that game. It’s a short step from this abstraction to the domino theory, the belief that Communist expansion is an inexorable and practically mindless force.

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