29 thoughts on “Bereans VLOG (State of the Union Address)”

  1. Good discussion. I largely agree with the analysis. Most of what I heard from President Trump I liked. My disagreements were the usual, mostly revolving around trade, and issue with which I far more in line with you all than with the President.

  2. Thanks for the discussion! I have a few questions, as per usual, though answers probably differ from person to person.

    What do you think is an ideal solution to the opiate problem? I get that you’re skeptical of a new department to oversee it, but what do you think is the best way to help?

    When Trump floats prison reform, what kind of reforms would you consider improvements? In my discussions with my more conservative friends I find that there’s not much they would change. What are you envisioning?

    Do you think, since we’re conceding that the Republicans are probably not going to restrict spending, that the revenue losses from these tax cuts will ultimately be a big problem? In my mind the only way they were sustainable is if they were accompanied by some pretty stringent cutbacks, but no one is clamoring for that.

    Finally, I’d be interested in hearing your perspective on the infighting within our government, particularly how the administration seems to be (perhaps unintentionally) throwing our intelligence agencies under the bus and turning the public on them. I also asked in an earlier post, but I’ll throw it in here too: What do you make of the apparent reluctance on the administration’s part to sanction Russian oligarchs?

    1. First off, it is not a foregone conclusion that tax cuts automatically lead to revenue loss.

      It seems the leaders, not the rank and file, of these agencies are throwing themselves under the bus with their partisanship and corruption, not the administration.

      1. Are these two sentences connected to each other or answering different things?

        What do you think a tax cut does to government revenues, exactly? It’s a direct loss to them, by design. I don’t think any of the Bereans think this will be revenue neutral, except possibly in the VERY long term, and historically it just hasn’t been. I think my question is a valid one.

        Can you clarify the second sentence?

      2. They were not connected, sorry.

        Tax cuts are a direct loss if the amount of taxable income remains the same. The hope is it will increase.

        The topic of the second sentence is probably better discussed on the article written about it yesterday, but the info we got clearly shows corruption on the part of high ranking FBI and DOJ officials. Like I side though it fits in better to hash it out in the comments under that article.

      3. Tax cuts are a cut to revenue, full stop. Growth may eventually grow revenue too, but tax cuts hurt revenue. Even the people arguing for it in Congress admitted it would increase our deficit. It’s really not up for debate.

        With the memo, I think you’re jumping to conclusions. No one I’m hearing thinks this is cut and dry like you seem to.

      4. “First off, it is not a foregone conclusion that tax cuts automatically lead to revenue loss.”

        No one knows the future, yes, but after Friday’s NFP report, the claim that economic growth will be far above average for the next decade–the only way that the tax cuts could pay for themselves–is pretty much dead.

      5. So I’m supposed to be convinced by you that the chance of growth to be above average is dead based on some report you cite that I’ve never heard of before? My point for this discussion about tax cuts is just that cuts themselves don’t automatically guarantee lower revenue. Not saying that revenue will be lower or higher just that it’s not a set-in-stone conclusion.

      6. Of course it’s not set in stone: Jeff allowed for that. Gold could rain from the sky into the offices of the IRS. But not even the Bereans are predicting that there will be a windfall to make up for a direct cut. Which, going full circle, is why I asked my question.

      7. Theophilus, I’m going to have chime in here briefly (sorry). We have three significant tax cuts in history (Coolidge, Kennedy, and Reagan) where tax receipts went up after the cuts. I should mention that’s not just growth related; these increases were swift and lasting. On a static basis, you’re absolutely correct that a tax cut is cut in revenue, but you’re missing 90% of the larger picture. Incentives matter, and when an incentive to hide revenue is removed, and it’s more profitable to bring the money back to the economy, tax receipts go up. We have hard, solid evidence of it happening, so I’m not sure why we we’re locked into the automatic belief that this will hurt revenue.

        BTW, most of those increased tax receipts ended up coming from the rich even after their tax rate was cut.

      8. Not sure where you get those numbers. Looking into it (since I’m not a tax expert myself) it looks like you might be right about Coolidge, when the tax rate was over 70% for top earners.

        I’m seeing tax historians claiming that Johnson’s cut didn’t pay for itself, though. Not that I’d know.

        And Reagan cut taxes twice and raised them eleven times. He had to in order to make up the revenue that was lost.

        I agree that tax cuts stimulate growth. I just disagree that they will pay for themselves. If you have sources that are predicting that about these cuts, please show me. I’m content to go with the Bereans here, none of whom believe these will pay for themselves, and especially not if we don’t cut spending. This is one of those ‘my facts, your facts’ things that seem to be getting more common, but I just don’t see that the case is settled by ‘hard evidence.’ Seems like the evidence is not entirely clear.

      9. http://www.tsowell.com/images/Hoover%20Proof.pdf
        Yes, it’s Sowell, but don’t let that ward you off. He pulls the number right out of Treasury Department.

        The Bush cuts were the other ones that increased revenue.

        Reagan is debatable, but the simple fact is that revenues were up by the end of his 1988 term, and the top marginal rates were down to 25%. In fact, over the period where he raised taxes, revenues dip slightly.

        Look, this doesn’t mean these tax cuts will pay for themselves, but I’m not going to stand here and say, “Well, it’s a cut so that has to mean less revenue.” Let’s see what happens.

      10. Okay. Sowell’s a smart guy. The argument is well presented.

        It’s still not the consensus, but that’s fine. Maybe it will be revenue neutral even though republicans don’t think it will be. And the Bereans don’t agree.

        But in the event that it’s not, I asked a valid question. Anything can happen. I’m asking the Bereans what they think is likely to happen because their view is less optimistic than yours. I concede that it’s possible everyone’s wrong and the predictions are all off. We agree, at least in some form. I still want to know what the Bereans think.

        I get the impression that they lose interest in responding once we get barking at each other though…

  3. Dr. Wheeler, is it possible for the State of the Union address to be constructed in a way that you would like? Is there any way that this sort of update can be presented in a way that allows for true content to be given?
    Dr. Clauson and Dr. Haymond, is there any way to put a hold on Trump’s trade policy nonsense?

    1. No, I do not think that it would be possible to alter the address in way that I would like. Too much of a spectacle that highlights division.

  4. Good Video. Just a few comments:
    1. Overall, I think that the State of the Union was a success for Trump.
    2. I absolutely agree that tackling the opioid crisis involves the doctors and pharmacists and not just the users. That’s something that I believe Mr. Trump missed.
    3. I’m not sure exactly what he would like with nuclear weapons. Previously, I think he wanted to rapidly expand the number of nuclear weapons in America, and I don’t think that’s a wise thing to do. However, our nuclear system definitely needs to be modernised.
    4. Our political system seems so polarised, but I appreciate Mr. Trump trying to reach across the aisle. It’s hard to respect politicians when they treat their job as more of a game than a tool to help their constituents.

  5. Through his speech, Trump focused some on expanding our military initiative and strategic positioning in the globe. He openly stated that “unmatched power is the surest means of our defense” which could have a large influence on the size and strategies our military will experience in the years to come. Can you see these claims becoming a reality? and if so, how do you think his position will change our global presence?

    1. We’re already the indisputable military power. 80% of the world’s military spending is contained in NATO. On the top ten list, we are number 1 and spend more than the other 9 combined. We already have a ludicrous amount of firepower. Spending billions more is not going to substantially change that.

  6. “So I’m supposed to be convinced by you that the chance of growth to be above average is dead based on some report you cite that I’ve never heard of before?”

    Non-farm payroll. Interest rate hikes much more likely now. The markets took notice.

  7. Matthew B says “The Bush cuts were the other ones that increased revenue.

    Reagan is debatable, but the simple fact is that revenues were up by the end of his 1988 term, and the top marginal rates were down to 25%. In fact, over the period where he raised taxes, revenues dip slightly.

    Look, this doesn’t mean these tax cuts will pay for themselves, but I’m not going to stand here and say, “Well, it’s a cut so that has to mean less revenue.” Let’s see what happens.”

    1. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
    2. During the Reagan presidency, some taxes were cut but many more were raised, including payroll taxes. Funny how tax increases on working people are OK to many conservatives, yet taxes on the idle rich in the form of inheritance taxes must be cut if not eliminated.

    1. Does quoting in Latin make one feel more intellectual?

      Again with your war on the wealthy? Inheritance tax accounts for less than 1% of revenue and we have a huge rate. What evidence do you have that conservatives want to tax working people more and lower it on the rich? By many do you mean majority? Cause even a small percentage of people can still qualify as many people.

      1. I doubt the usage of Latin itself makes him feel intellectual, but I think the usage of his rather large logical fallacy repertoire is yet another example of his typical academic elitism. As for his tax cut comments, obviously, “independent” though he claims to be, he is still repeating his “actual” side’s rhetoric on the GOP tax bill raising taxes on the poor and lowering them for the rich, rhetoric which, except in a few minor cases, has largely been proven false. Not that I am surprised as he is once again doubling down on unfounded and false hasty generalizations like “tax increases on working people are OK to many conservatives” as well as his inheritance tax myopia.

      2. Actually he was claiming you were using a logical fallacy that uses that name. I don’t think it was meant to sound intellectual. Perhaps logic is elitist, though, I don’t know how you answer that kind of argument.

      3. I know what he was claiming and actually he was claiming Matthew B. used it. I guess we disagree on this but I do think he tries to sound intellectual, or, perhaps more accurately, make whoever is his target at the moment look nonintellectual, But to answer you question, no, I do not think logic is elitist. I simply think the way in which he frequently uses accusations of logical fallacy violations reflects academic elitism. This is a blog, not Mr. Adams’ classroom (or any other) in which posts in the comment section must rise to the level of doctoral dissertations with footnotes, endnotes, bibliographies, etc.

      4. Sorry, I misunderstood what you meant. And it was confusing because I was replying to Nathan and it popped up under you while referencing what you said.

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