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AT&T lied about everything it promised to do if it got a tax cut (vice.com)
138 points by apeace 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments



To me, this whole thing was a sham anyway. Promising the working class some tax breaks but large corps get significantly outsized breaks which will turn into jobs if you just vote this thing through!

Oh and the deficit will add $1T but no one's worried about that.

This is all fixable, but we cannot expect the current administration nor party to do it. Honestly, I wish I knew what was going on in the party such that they perform these long term losses for these extremely questionable short term gains.


What are the long-term losses and when will they impact the party? If the answers are in the realm of "esoteric things like national debt" and "not for 10+ years" then it's pretty clear the strategy is working as intended - they get votes and policy decisions now in exchange for problems that get kicked down the road for someone else to deal with.


Probably a democratic Administration who will then be scapegoated for "ballooning the deficit."


The democratic admin will be scapegoated for literally anything. As soon as the current admin is out the door the standards reset and it's back to outrage about "tan suits" and "saluting with coffee".


Probably because they will, with their own pet projects. The idea that there's a huge difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is a fantasy. Democrats are new wealth, profiteering from government inefficiency, while Republicans are old wealth who profiteer from the same things they always have. Some would say I'm cynical, but I believe I'm just old.


My sense is that republicans prefer to concentrate the pork to the ownership class, while the democrats want the waste distributed to a broader voting base.


So I used to wonder about that. Eventually, I realized that is is actually a considered strategy. After 1T+ deficit becomes a problem, Rs will be able to say, well, we gotta cut entitlements. For the good of the republic ofcourse. It helps that both steps align with their real constituency.


Indeed it is, and a multi-decade long strategy at that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starve_the_beast


That and we gotta protect the wealthy by creating a deflationary currency: "Gold Standard!"


Inflationary currency. We are printing more and more money already. Dealing with 1 trillion in deficits every year will be quite something


Tax the rich? I mean that's where the money is.


I would assume it all comes down to incentives: campaign contributions


I do believe that we're living in two political dimensions - dimension A, and dimension B. (This is purely academic distinction - just for illustrative purposes.)

I was just in Kansas, and all I saw were people that would benefit massively from Liberal/Democratic policies, and yet vote against their best interest Every. Single. Time.

Wrapping blue collar and middle class voters in a blanket of patriotism, near-worship of the military class and first responders, and positioning anything else as anti-American is very powerful.


The book is "What's The Matter With Kansas" and it came out in 2004. Old hat at this point, e.g. Koch brothers, Fox News, Identity Politics, etc.

The real story is why the left isn't able to pull them back in, or reach out. There is no question that the Right owns that block and how they keep them, the actual question is what does the left do to change that? Maybe that means taking positions that're not crazy about, or maybe that just means people need to move en masse out of their blue enclaves.


The upper-middle class people that mostly run the Democratic party and vote progressive are also voting against "their best interest". How do you define interest? Many people don't think that getting more resources from the government, even if they are struggling financially, is in "their best interest". Part of the rejection of the Liberal/Democratic policies is that the "elites" think they know peoples' "best interest" better than the people themselves. Not very democratic, really.


> I was just in Kansas, and all I saw were people that would benefit massively from Liberal/Democratic policies, and yet vote against their best interest Every. Single. Time.

I think this was a true statement a decade ago, but political ideologies have shifted dramatically within the parties.

For one example, look at who was fighting against illegal immigration in order to protect blue-collar union jobs in 2005 versus now.


>I was just in Kansas, and all I saw were people that would benefit massively from Liberal/Democratic policies, and yet vote against their best interest Every. Single. Time.

It's easy to feel that way if you don't understand what is really important to that particular vein of person.

Adversity can be lived and reckoned with as long as there is safety, and overarching stability. People want to be part of something they can be proud of, and that they overcome difficult circumstances makes it all the sweeter. Most importantly though, people just want to be not-interfered with.

When your ostensibly Liberal party has some fiscally attractive ideas, but undermines the very traditional "heart and soul" of the overarching culture, you're going to have a very hard sell. Especially when the other party can sit back and say, "If not for us, they'd have destroyed the American dream, and turned it into a government operated nightmare." Which despite many admirable liberal causes, from the behavior of the political machine elsewhere finds a sizable portion of the populations agreeing with the other side.

Give up on the moral crusade on firearms, get off the Wall Street teat, refocus efforts on organizing and reempowering labor, actually focus on fiscal stability by putting entitlements on a back burner and revamp some of the more fundamental ways our economy is malfunctioning. Use the anti-trust hammer, hold large regional monopolies accountable and make it hurt when they don't deliver. Do something to thwart the problematic forms of financial engineering (private equity abuses, short-term gains over long-term stability, predatory financial products), and for the love of God, get healthcare sorted, and simplify/deantagonize the mechanics of taxation. Shift funding to Research and Education, simplify and raise awareness of ways of civic participation, and maybe consider whether or not some environmental issues can be tackled by the of establishment of Public Works programs.

If anything has stood out to me about the difference between my current generation, and my grandparent's it is that nowadays a civicly minded individual would be hard pressed to be able to actually make a living improving their community.

Funding is trapped in a Market driven by chasing the latest international money making hype scheme rather than actually getting physical labor/goods production done. The service/rent seeking/consumerist paradigm is death and stagnation incarnate. No one is enabled by forced dependence on someone else.

At least, that seems to be the vibe I've picked up on from the Midwest states I've frequented... Which I'll be the first to admit isn't that extensive.


It seems as if you favor Republican policies strongly, as those are the tenants that Republicans should stand for. Entitlements, gun control, and cognizance of the interdependence of man are central to the Democratic party - just as stubborn independence, small government, and free market solutions are to the Republican party. The changes you suggest that Democrats make would make them entirely indistinguishable from Republicans.


Well, don't shoot the messenger. I just talk to people. That's what I've consistently heard.

I don't label people, or toss am in buckets. I just ask em what they want. The general streak is leave me alone, I don't like the game being stacked against me, keep me safe, free, and capable of making an honest living, and most importantly don't rook me.

Also if you think Republicans have ever been pro-labor, you are sadly mistaken in that regard. Public Works are also generally non-starters except for those who were around in the early 1900's in my experience, and are the quintessential of fundamental interdependence, but also have a tendency to be small localized efforts;something appealing to conservatives more so than not. Enforcing responsibility for corporate actions has always been lackluster on the Republican side as well; Democrats haven't done great on that either. Anti-trust is starting to boot back up again bipartisanly, but it has taken some serious levels of gilded age to even rustletbings enough for that.

Did you even read half the things I mentioned? I'll give you there are quote "Republican overtones" there; but I don't ask people to talk to me about their political party, I ask them what they're concerned about. Think people's political label matters a whole lot less in the long run than their input in what represents the biggest problem to deal with. The "Party Branding" as I call it is just mud in the process of trying to chase down what needs to be prioritized and handled. Both sides are spending more time trying to look like they're the best side of humanity that it seems like actually being that seems to fall by the wayside.

The two States I frequent are Texas and Minnesota. If that helps any.

Frankly, I'd probably get thrown out of any modern political rally, because I think they're all doing a terrible job of running an effective government at this point. There are so many systematic warts that have taken root it'll likely be decades til we get to weeding them out, but hey, that's politics.

Just wanted to share my observation, and point out that to the Voters, they aren't voting against their best interest. They just have precious little to go from that the "other guy" will generate better results.

gentle 29 days ago [flagged]

So.... you're saying that the Democratic party needs to abandon its core voters by moving so far to the right that its competing with the Republicans on who can be more conservative?

Get real.


Please don't take HN threads further into political flamewar. This comment breaks several of the site guidelines. Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and sticking to the rules when posting here?

"Eschew flamebait."

"Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."


And in fact, expressing criticisms of the current administration (without mentioning Democrats or their policies in any way), no matter how minor, will get your post deleted, and sometimes your account banned on many right-leaning parts of the internet.

An exercise I undertake to understand the current state of the Republican party is to watch the comment threads on Breitbart (not post, just lurk). Stories about when Trump proposes any amount of gun control will see many, many posts expressing betrayal and outrage--and you can watch them disappear in realtime.


This isn't unique to right-leaning sites. Expressing support in the wrong (right?) place will get posts deleted and accounts locked.


Guns and abortion. They've chosen their hill to die on. The rest of it is pageantry.


These exact words apply reflexively to the left, you know. It absolutely stuns me that the left is able to correctly identify the things that empirically matter most to middle America based on their voting behavior, then campaigns on the opposite of that and still has the nerve to say they're "voting against their own interest".

The dehumanizing arrogance this kind of rhetoric betrays is profoundly disturbing and everyone who finds themselves thinking this way needs to stop immediately and do some soul searching. Half the country is not too stupid to discover their own values and preferences, and you are not the enlightened shepherd they need to guide them against their own will.


Your comment perfectly exemplifies why the blue collar vote in favor of the GOP is so mystifying. 64% of Americans support stricter gun laws, while 29% oppose them. And yet, many of those 64% vote GOP because they are convinced the DEM are going to confiscate/ban/etc.. That kind of noise comes exclusively from the GOP themselves. Believe me, some jerk signed me up for NRA e-mails once. It is a constant barrage (even today) that OBUMER is gonna take yer guns and herd you into a FEMA camp and DONATE NOW!! In reality, actual DEM proposed legislation places controls on certain features that increase likelihood of successful mass-killing (fully auto, bump stocks, very high capacity mags) and increases background checks.

Regarding abortion, the general consensus among DEMs is that abortion should be legal, safe, and rare. Rare to be obtained by increasing the social safety net for having a kid is not such a profoundly negative economic consequence.

I find it difficult to understand how such positions could be considered "opposite" of "things that empirically matter most to middle America"


"they are convinced the DEM are going to confiscate/ban/etc"

This is a very legitimate and real fear for many. Remember Beto? "Hell yes we're going to take your AR-15's!"

That was met with overwhelming cheer and praise at the debate. Clearly many Democrats are not that vigorous, but you get the point...


It may be a "real" fear. It is not in any way a legitimate fear. That would violate so many constitutional norms (the Constitution itself as well as 1st and 2nd and 4th amendments) as to be a non-starter.

Regarding the AR-15 itself. Yes, I am aware that many DEMS want stricter regulation of "assault weapons" that are really only good as offensive weaponry. The AR-15 is a terrible hunting rifle and hardly any better for defensive purposes. Why does the right love it so much? I suspect because they are the victim of propaganda. However, I'm all ears if you have another theory?


Because it's light and fun. AR-15s are cheap and customizable too. Having lots of different guns at a certain point has zero to do with need, if it ever did. Many people just like to shoot guns, but far fewer say that.


I agree. Heck, it is fun to shoot stuff. I just don't understand why and how this turned into such a powerful political movement. My fun turns out to contribute to mass killing of children. Maybe my fun doesn't justify such lock-step ironclad opposition to additional gun control measures. If an "assault rifle" ban saved one life, and I can keep my .22 semi-auto pistol and my M1, what is the big deal? The NRA makes it seem like DEM gun control measures are an attempt to subvert a whole way of life, which is total nonsense.


Maybe we should focus more attention on why some children are being hurt so badly that they lash out violently, and less on what weapon they use when they do.


This is a false dichotomy. Why not both?


> It may be a "real" fear. It is not in any way a legitimate fear.

And yet there's no mention of what's happening in Virginia regarding gun rights.

Edit: As my ability to reply is disabled, I will not.


I am really struggling to see your point here. Here is a decent link about what is happening in Virginia regarding gun rights: https://wtop.com/virginia/2020/01/faqs-what-is-happening-wit... . If all those measures pass, guns will still be extremely available for purchase or trade by the citizenry.


> 64% of Americans support stricter gun laws The problem with that statistic is that most of that 64% probably have no idea what the laws _actually_ are. As stated in another reply, full auto has been strictly regulated for _decades_. Anyone who thinks full-auto is a problem is either ignorant or lying, and that applies to many of the statements I hear from gun control supporters.


I don't know what you are trying to say here. Just because fully-auto are already strictly controlled does not negate my point that DEMs are highly in favor of such strict control. Who is ignorant or lying here? Do you honestly believe we should STOP regulating full-auto so strictly? Do you have a position on certain semi-auto mechanisms that are very easy for DIY self-convert to full-auto? Or are you just parroting the right-wing caricature that DEMs don't know anything about guns? I suspect that your comment is entirely in bad-faith.


>Do you honestly believe we should STOP regulating full-auto so strictly?

Yes. The Constitution specifically forbids all gun rights infringements and there is no exception for automatics.


>why the blue collar vote in favor of the GOP is so mystifying

>"OBUMER is gonna take yer guns and herd you into a FEMA camp and DONATE NOW"

Truly mystifying indeed that people don't vote for the culture that holds this caricature of them.


>Truly mystifying indeed that people don't vote for the culture that holds this caricature of them.

You completely missed the point. This is ACTUALLY the type of e-mail the NRA sends out daily (actually sometimes four times a day). Misspelling Obama in a purposefully derogatory way, actually mentioning FEMA concentration camp conspiracy nuttery, actually saying that if you don't act now you are going to lose your guns. This is all real. Not a caricature at all.


Fully automatic weapons have been strictly controlled for decades. Adding controls to them would probably have an unimpressive effect, since legal fully automatic weapons have been used in either 2 or 3 crimes since 1934.


I don't know what you are trying to say here. Just because fully-auto are already strictly controlled does not negate my point that DEMs are highly in favor of such strict control.


It means you lack basic knowledge of the subject, which is a red flag that your viewpoint is not well-formed or generated from fact.

Imagine somebody tells you that abortion should be more strictly regulated, but can't properly describe women's anatomy or the standing law for abortion restrictions.

Imagine somebody tells you that strong crypto should be reserved for the military, intelligence, and law enforcement, but shows a thorough lack of understanding of features like public keys, password hashes, etc. That would be an indicator that they do not really have exposure to the topic and are reacting out of fear rather than a deep consideration of the fundamental freedoms at stake.

Yet such a basic ignorance of the issue is a staple of gun control proponents, even career activists. It is an absolute farce that politicians and lobbyists are demanding to ban tools they cannot even properly identify and that ought to send chills down the spine of any clearheaded person.


Can you actually point to any ignorance of the subject? No you cannot. I never said full-auto was not regulated. You lack basic reading comprehension skills.


Your ad hominem attack is neither helpful nor civil. Furthermore, the idea it uses as a basis is false.

"... In reality, actual DEM proposed legislation places controls on certain features that increase likelihood of successful mass-killing (fully auto, bump stocks, very high capacity mags) ..."

You stated that full auto was a feature that Democrats were proposing to control to decrease likelihood of mass killing. In reality, that problem has not existed for 85 years; proposing to make it less likely is meaningless.


That still doesn't explain the complete absence of a candidate which breaks rank on those two issues but otherwise plays by the progressive playbook.


Breaking ranks on those issues means you get no support from the party.


If you assume the US has 330M people, then $1T is around $3000 for every man, woman, and child in the US.

Seems like a gigantic waste of future taxpayer dollars.


I'm not sure what the author's complaint is. The quote they provide is:

“By immediately lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, this bill will stimulate investment, job creation and economic growth in the United States,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at the time. “Research tells us that every $1 billion in capital invested in telecom creates about 7,000 good jobs for the middle class,” the CEO proclaimed.

Nowhere in this quote it says AT&T specifically promises anything if they get a tax cut, or that they perform any actions at all. It's a generic opinion about a nationwide economic policy, not a specific promise of an action of specific company. To call this "lied" is insane, it's like I'd say "lowering taxes is good for middle class" and the tax cut happens but then I get in financial trouble and some journalist writes an article claiming I am a liar because I am middle class, and taxes were cut but I am actually doing worse off! It should be crystal clear that no nationwide economic policy can guarantee every single company would post profits every single year and would never have workforce cuts.

If somebody is lying here, it is the author of the article. He obviously have read AT&T statements, as he is quoting them, he should be smart enough to understand what is being said in them, and still he claims AT&T promised what it clearly never did. This is textbook definition of lying.

Now, its legitimate to argue that maybe tax cuts were not as good as their proponents promised, and maybe their real effects were different. But one can not do it on the example of one single company! AT&T is indeed in big trouble, as somebody who recently cut off all ties with the company after being a client for more than a decade, I can confirm their service have gone way downhill, while their prices continue the steady march upwards. This company is in trouble, no question about that. But making from that the conclusion that it somehow is related to the tax policy and constitutes a "lie" is plain idiotic and insulting to the reader's intelligence.


Lies are only punished if you tell them to rich people.

Further down the article, you can see that investors are mad only because AT&T's mergers and acquisitions don't seem to be paying off fast enough.


Almost all companies' overwhelming priority is to increase the wealth of their owners and shareholders. That is often diametrically opposed to benefiting customers. Unfortunately too many people have only attended Economics 101, which insists that the way for a company to be successful is to be the best for the market. Economics 101 fails to be evidence based, or realise that the dominant market is not a company's customers, it's the company ownership.


> Economics 101, which insists that the way for a company to be successful is to be the best for the market

No it doesn't. I don't know which Economic 101 you had, but you may want to ask for a refund on the money you paid for it. Economics says nothing of the sort. For a company to be successful, its services should find willing consumers.

> the dominant market is not a company's customers, it's the company ownership.

Can somebody translate this to English for me? I recognize all the words, but I can't make any sense of them being arranged this way. What does it mean "dominant market is the company ownership"? It just doesn't compute.


I believe he means: they aren’t in competition for customers. They are in competition for stockholders. Stockholders exist in a true competitive marketplace where AT&T must provide value to get their business. This is strictly not the case for most of AT&Ts customer-facing business. That exists in an oligopoly that appears to collude on pricing and (lack of) service.


As an ex-client of AT&T and now client of a set of different providers, that has not been my experience - both prices and service levels vary quite significantly.


This is the kind of thing that makes me feel like neither party really knows what it's doing. If you're going to create some big tax bill, passing it early on in your presidency is the worst possible choice you can make. Now, the American people can judge the outcome of that bill and will vote accordingly in 2020. If they'd simply waited to pass that bill until just before the midterms in 2018 and had it take effect in 2020, then no one would truthfully be able to say that the bill had failed. This isn't even some deep insight I'm making here - it should have been brought up within the first five minutes of the first meeting of creating the bill.

You could argue that the strategy may have been to stanch their losses in the 2018 election....but that election went almost as badly as it could possibly have gone for the right anyway (depending on who you ask).


Genuinely curious as to how this is an example of the neither partying knowing what's its doing since this was Republican legislation which negatively effected that party's reelection campaigns.


The bill takes effect in 5 years -- aka another president's term, most likely -- and will force a massive tax hike for that president, which would swing the pendulum back again.

The folks pushing for the cut don't care about any particular politician's career, they want their mofo-ing tax cut, and they got it, and it's probably gonna stick with a GOP Senate (which will likely stay that way).


The deep insight is that we've built a system where people lack responsibility for their actions. It makes sense to do harmful things that are appear good in the short term because there's no accountability.


> Now, the American people can judge the outcome of that bill and will vote accordingly in 2020.

You're saying it like it's a bad thing?


I don't really understand corporate taxation, but maybe someone here can educate me.

Why do we expect cutting corporate taxes to increase investment? Aren't costs associated with infrastructure, hiring, wages, etc. considered deductible business expenses? I suppose there are some edge cases there like payroll taxes, but it seems like most of what a corporation spends money on is effectively coming from pre-tax dollars.


Huh, it's almost as if Ajit Pai is corrupt. Whadya know.


“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

― Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress

A tax break is never a long term incentive for an organization. Each year the financial plan is re-base against last years performance. The expectations is always set at continual growth and improvement. A tax break is only seen as a tax break for a single year... especially when you consider a different political establishment could drastically swing the country in the opposite direction.


That quote is actually right though, just like Dave Chapelle said his Dad told him, “poor is a mentality, we’re not poor son, we’re broke!” (implying it was temporary rather than a lifestyle choice)


Well, there's only one Dave Chapelle, but millions of "Dave Chapelle"s that are still "broke".

So while you're not strictly wrong, I wouldn't consider it particularly positive distinction.


Wasn't that quote Steinbeck, the writer? Grapes of Wrath, etc.


Set the corporate tax rate to 0. US companies hold trillions in profit overseas which could be used to invest or be taxed when it's distributed to shareholders.

Edit: If the rich shareholders disproportionately benefit from this then raise capital gains. I'd wonder though what proportion of shares are actually held by the 1% though, I'd think a large amount of shares are held in people's pensions/ETFS/401k etc. Theres always calls for taxing the evil corporations more but in the end all taxes are paid by people - either shareholders or employees.


Did you seriously just read the article and conclude that the problem is we didn't push hard enough for trickle-down economics?


Cutting corporate taxes to zero does not necessarily mean trickle-down economics.

We could cut the corporate tax rate to zero, tax capital at a rate slightly higher than labor (in exchange for using a corporation as a tax-free investment vehicle). We could have a carbon tax and a VAT, with all the proceeds refunded equally to households, which would serve as a UBI.

Eliminating the corporate tax would remove all manner of distortions from our economy, and would free-up huge amounts of resources currently allocated towards avoiding taxation.

Instead of offering insidious tax credits/expenditures to support industries we want, we could offer an equivalent amount of subsidies, which would be on balance sheet, and much easier to judge their effectiveness.

There's no particular reason we must tax corporations, and there are a lot of reasons why it makes sense not to. But certainly we should not cut corporate taxes without capturing that revenue elsewhere in a progressive way.


Or we could fix the tax code so that avoiding taxation is simply not possible instead of hoping that altruistic policies will be enacted to help the working class. I'd love for it to be otherwise, but judging by the last several decades of policy and trends, the most likely outcome of cutting corporate taxes is more inequality and very little meaningful help to most Americans.


What I am curious about is why corporations need to pay “bonus” tax at all (other than on imports/exports or purchases of commodities/equipment), the employees and the stakeholders of the corporations (the actual people) already pay income tax, why isn’t that fair enough?


Lots of companies have employees and stakeholders in diferent countries that do not pay any taxes, yet profit from operating here. That's one reason.

Another reason is distribution. You might want employees to pay no taxes at all on their salaries. And you might want shareholders to pay no money at all on their capital gains or dividends, and yet you'd want company revenue to be taxed. The big difference is in theory, a company can just rotate money within itself forever, take revenue and use it for expansion, or investment, or whatever. So all that money only gets taxed once a shareholder sells, or an employee gets paid, but a large portion gets re-invested in the company itself, which you'd want taxed as well, in order to get a steady flow of cash and also capture its real value.


IANAL and this isn't the legal justification. But US corporations are treated with rights similar to actual people with slightly better treatment in some ways, slightly worse in others.

So: morally corporations should pay income tax because all persons are subject to income tax. And we have decided that corporations are persons. It's no more a "bonus" tax than it is a bonus tax when I pay my accountant and she also has to pay tax on that income (even though I have already paid tax on the money).


Ah you say it will trickle down. What a genius idea.




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