Category Archives: Business

Trump Tax Code Reform Favors the Rich and Big Corporations – Surprised?

From seven brackets to three

The White House and Congressional Republicans announced their plans for a tax code reform bill. There is a bit of something positive in it. It would simplify the tax code into three brackets, instead of the current seven. But that’s about all that is positive in it for the middle class.

“We’re going to cut taxes for the middle class, make the tax code simpler and more fair for everyday Americans,” Trump said while speaking about the plan. “We are going to bring back the jobs and wealth that have left our country — and most people thought left our country for good.”

The plan would raise the bottom rate to 12 percent from today’s 10 percent. According to the blueprint of the plan, average families “are expected to be better off” under all the changes it proposes. An analysis by the Americans for Tax Fairness found that the plan would provide a “modest middle-class tax cut,” mainly by doubling the standard deduction. However, the analysis also found that if the tax plan repeals the personal exemption and the head of household filing status, “much of that could be taken away.”

Funding Deficit

The tax reform plan could total $6.7 to $8.3 trillion, and $3 to $5 trillion of it may end up not being paid for by limiting tax deductions or closing other tax loopholes, according to the Americans for Tax Fairness. The funding deficit would threaten funding of services such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and public education.

President’s Trump’s budget for 2018 proposed $4.3 trillion in cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, public education and other non-defense programs. The House budget proposed $5.8 million in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, public education and other non-defense programs.

“The idea that this plan would help average Americans instead of the wealthy and big corporations has been a hoax all along,” said Frank Clemente, executive director, Americans for Tax Fairness.

“This plan will not lead to robust job creation or economic growth, but its eye-popping cost will lead to deep cuts in Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and public education that will leave working families in the cold.”

A “thinly veiled giveaway”

Democrats are opposed to the Republican tax reform plan. The Democratic Party’s website calls it “nothing more than a thinly-veiled giveaway to big corporations and the one percent.” And the party’s website pointed out that Trump had Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, former Wall Street executives, create a tax plan “out of the public eye that would be a massive windfall to Trump and his wealthy corporate buddies.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) blasted the Republican’s tax reform plan. “It seems that President Trump and Republicans have designed their plan to be cheered in the country clubs and the corporate boardrooms,” he said on the Senate floor, the Hill reported. “[Republicans are] going to be in for a rude awakening as the American people are going to rise up against this,” he added.

The rich get richer

Three polls conducted this month indicate that Schumer just may be right. An NBC/WSJ poll found that 42 percent of those polled said Congress should not cut taxes right now, and 62 percent said taxes for the wealthy should be increased. A Washington Post/ABC poll found that 51 percent believe that Trump’s tax plan will disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans. And a Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 60 percent think that corporations do not pay enough taxes.

Perhaps the Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, summed up the opposition to the tax plan the best:

“At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, President Trump’s tax plan is morally repugnant and bad economic policy,” he said.

Indeed, it is.

Community Capital: Economic Development With a Sense of Place


It’s the economy, stupid.

In 1992, political strategist James Carville coined his catchy admonition ostensibly to keep his staff on message, arguably helping pave the way to Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Carville’s “snowclone” phrase has since been bent and contorted into service across a wide swath of issues.

It’s time to bring the expression home.

“It’s the local economy”

While nuanced in its definition and application, the concept of community capital is fundamentally straighforward: local wealth and resources circulating through the community from which it derives, to the benefit of all within that community.

Typically referring to economic capital, community capital encompasses one of the most common sense examples of the triple bottom line. People, planet (or community), and profit.

Ultimately, any economic activity that does not account for the “Three Ps” is not sustainable, even if wildly successful for a time economically. It won’t last. In the process, people suffer and ecosystems collapse. Needless to say, the business buckles under the weight of its own short-termism.

Like the triple bottom line, community capital is a framework for equitable, sustainable, and conscious capitalism.

It’s the local economy, stupid.

ComCap17

ComCap17

Portland-based Hatch Innovation launched the ComCap conference in 2015 as a one-day “Oregon-only” forum on community capital. In 2016 ComCap expanded into a two-day event hosting experts and business leaders from across the nation.

The City of Monterey, California and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies are co-hosts to this year’s ComCap conference.

In addition to the growing participation and interest in the annual event, ComCap now offers a digital learning library and podcast.

How a community thrives

We’ll be at ComCap September 11–13, talking with innovators, businesspeople, scientists, social advocates, and policy experts. All are passionate, dedicated leaders, working on-the-ground to make their communities better. In the process, they are setting a standard for others to follow.

Among these leaders are:

Community capital puts “community” before “capital” for a reason. It focuses on community resilience through cooperative effort and stewardship. It’s economic development with a sense of place.

Intersolar North America 2016 – Update

At Intersolar today in San Francisco, I explored three examples of how the industry is working to meet the challenges of solar energy integration:

High Capacity Storage

This morning I met with Bill Sproull of Energy Storage Systems – ESS. In partnership with ARPA-E and others, ESS brings to market a turnkey 100kW/800kWh iron flow battery for long duration, commercial and utility-scale energy storage.

This technology can level and shift energy on demand with 6-8 hour duration for “baseload” renewable energy integration.

Efficiency

A typical silicon solar cell on the market today is about 20 percent efficient. Erik Smith, CEO of Sol Voltaics is in its third round of funding to bring to market cost-effective Gallium arsenide nanowire technology. A thin sheet of nanowires is stacked over silicon or thin-film modules, increasing efficiency by up to 60 percent (for an efficiency rating of 29-30 percent).

Smith expects the first commercially available nanowire sometime in 2018.

Materials and quality

There are 900 million solar panels deployed across the globe. 81 percent of those came online in the last five years. Most of those are made with materials supplied by Dupont, one of the first providers of PV backsheets and silver paste, two essential ingredients in solar PV.

Over 40 years in the PV industry, Dupont has developed rigorous materials testing procedures, “heat and beat” as Dr. Alexander Bradley calls it. These lifecycle testing methods allow Dupont engineers to continually improve the performance and quality of its materials.

As the solar industry continues to mature and shake itself out, the message from Dupont is an awareness of the value proposition of quality, for all stakeholders.

All those hundreds of millions of solar panels won’t be worth the investment if they degrade quickly, and the company that sold them will have long been out of business.