Friday, November 10, 2017

Midseason Evaluation of Sammy Watkins Trade

Over 8 games, Sammy Watkins has only caught 19 passes.  To acquire him, in the final year of his contract, and a 6th round draft choice, the Rams gave up a 2nd round draft  choice and cornerback E.J. Gaines. Yet I can say the trade has been an unmitigated success.

Statistics underestimate Watkins value.  By stretching the field, and attracting the attention of each opponent's top corner, he has opened thing up for Woods and Kupp, as well as for Gurley.  As he gets more in sync with Goff more success should follow.

The compensation for him is less than meets the eye.  Gaines, although a steal in the 6th round, would have been a backup for the Rams.  The value of the 2nd round draft choice is diminishing with each win.

Granted, they have only leased Watkins for one year, but even that has its advantages.  The final year of Watkins rookie contract is a bargain.  If the Rams resign him, they will have a deep threat for years to come.  If he leaves and signs a big contract elsewhere, the Rams will get a compensatory pick, perhaps as high as a third rounder.





Thursday, October 26, 2017

Why Now?

Republican tax reform, if passed, will score political points and please donors.  What it will not do is benefit the middle class.

Adding a trillion and one half dollars to the deficit is a glass that should only be broken in case of an emergency.  Democrats smashed the glass during the great depression, and more recently, during the great recession.  Republicans are ringing the alarm when the country is on a path towards low unemployment and finally, wage escalation. Even if drastic action is justified an infrastructure bill would be the more obvious path to high paying jobs and long term economic growth.

Ending the estate tax provides no such benefit.     The tax is progressive, only applying to estates over 11 million for married couples, and half of that for singles.  With tax planning and exemptions, the number is actually higher.  The estimate is that it only applies to the upper 1/5 of 1 percent of all families.  Even that is deceptive since the tax is graduated, and is rather nominal under 20 million dollars.  Among the few who would benefit from repeal are the President, and most of his billionaire cabinet.

The accumulation of wealth by entrepreneurs and innovators may well create jobs and opportunities--tax free inheritance by their heirs, not so much.  Will the country really benefit if Eric, and Donald Jr. inherit one billion, rather than 600 million each?  Trust fund babies will not make this country great again.

Republican arguments for repeal are frivolous.  If any of the few remaining large family farms are lost, the fault lies not with the tax, but with their tax planner.  Many strategies, including forms of insurance, protect farms and businesses.  If double taxation was a GOP concern, eliminating deductions for state income tax would not be on the table.

Cutting corporate rates is only a little better.  For a free market party, the GOP has little understanding of corporate allocation of resources.  The Board of Directors establish goals, backed by incentives for senior management.  Salary is usually the smallest part of executive compensation.  The goals seldom include increasing the work force or raising wages.  A CEO is rewarded for increases in earnings and stock price.  The latter is reinforced with stock option awards.  The benefit of reduced corporate taxes will be a gusher for shareholders, and as a result, for executives, but only a drop in the bucket for workers.

Once again the GOP is crying wolf while the sheep prosper.  The stock market and corporate profits are at record highs.

Will lower corporate rates bring some jobs back to America?  That is not a fully answered question.  If Congress is serious, they will have the issue investigated through extensive hearings.  Lobbyists earn their keep.  Company, and industry specific, tax exemptions mean that the nominal tax rate is seldom the rate paid.

Taxes are only one of many factors determining the location of factories and offices.   Before we pay the first installment we should know what we are buying.

What we are selling is social programs.  As the debt increases, Republicans will not raise taxes.  Rather they will push for reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Promise Forward, Claw Back

When you or I give one hundred dollars to a candidate it is a contribution.  When the wealthiest among us donate one hundred thousand, it is an investment.  For them, tax reform will pay off big.

Even in an era of unbridled greed, a tax cut for the wealthiest will not cross the finish line.  Instead Republicans couched the bill as a job creation initiative that will boost employment and wages.  Leave aside that this is a drastic course correction, when we are on a path of low unemployment and finally, wage escalation.

More troubling, past tax cuts have been a gusher for shareholders, but barely a drop in the bucket for workers.  With a business man president, and a business friendly Congress, we should demand business like accountability.  We should treat the job growth and wage increase promises as stretch goals, and the tax deductions as incentive awards for achieving the goals.  So grant the tax deductions but with a claw back provision if the goals are not reached.

If the snake oil does not work, the treasury gets the money back which can be used for real middle class tax cuts.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Profiles in Cowardice

The placebo effect accounts for a broad swath of Trump voters continuing to buy the snake oil.  They want to believe.

As seasoned practitioners, elected Republicans know better.  They know that impulsive behavior, ego, greed, ignorance and disregard for the truth are poisonous.

But, calling out the charlatan would hurt their own sales under the Republican brand. Self sacrifice has given way to self.  Public servants are willfully ignoring and excusing the harm to the public and the republic. Only those, like Senators Corker and Flake, who are not standing for election, are standing up.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Decertification

A dam has a large hole, but fixing it will nearly bankrupt the government.  This seems like a tough decision.  Not so, when you have all the information.  There are 6 other holes that cannot be fixed.  Worse yet, much of the water has already escaped.

This is the decision to be made on certification of Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal.  Decertification would allow America to reimpose sanctions, but the other signatories would not.  Our sanctions would be ineffectual.  Worse yet, Iran has already had its accounts unfrozen adding 150 billion dollars to its coffers.

Decertification, without proof of Iranian violations would bankrupt our foreign policy. Our word would no longer have currency in the system of international relations.  Our allies would ignore our policy goals and look elsewhere for leadership.

Unfortunately, our damn president has a hole in his head which is beyond repair.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Good Tax

Taxes, in general, are a necessary evil.  An exception is the estate tax, which is beneficial.  The GOP is trying to take some teeth out of the old saw about death and taxes.  Republicans are proposing repeal of the estate tax.  As part of the sales pitch, they have renamed it the death tax.  

Call it what you will, the tax is socially beneficial.  The tax is progressive, only applying to estates over 11 million for married couples, and half of that for singles.  With tax planning and exemptions, the number is actually higher.  The estimate is that it only applies to the upper 1/5 of 1 percent of all families.  Even that is deceptive since the tax is graduated, and is rather nominal under 20 million dollars.  Among the few who would benefit from repeal are the President, and most of his billionaire cabinet.

The tax slows down the concentration of wealth at the top.  Unrestricted concentration of wealth has historically resulted in oligarchies that undermine democratic principles.  The accumulation of wealth by entrepreneurs and innovators may well create jobs and opportunities.  Tax free inheritance by their heirs, not so much.  Will the country really  benefit if Eric, and Donald Jr. inherit one billion, rather than 600 million each?  Trust fund babies will not make this country great again.

The annual loss of 20 billion in revenue will result in either, higher taxes elsewhere, a reduction of government programs, or an increase in the deficit.  All of the alternatives are bad for the middle class. 




Friday, September 8, 2017

Aaron Donald Contract

My Rams start the season on Sunday without their best player, Aaron Donald.  Time for this ex-lawyer to enter the discussion.  Donald is scheduled to make just under 2 million this year and under 7 million next year.  Rams are tight on cap space this year but have room next year.

Propose a 5 year extension at a slightly higher annual salary than any other defender.  Then take some of that money and move it back to this year and next.  Because of cap limitations that might  move one or two million this year and perhaps 13 million next year,  Guarantee 60 to 65 million of the contract dollars.

If the contract extension was for  20 million per year with 15 million moved back to 2017 and 2018 the numbers would look like this:

2017  4 million
2018  20 million
2019  17 million
2020  17 million
2021 17 million
2022 17 million
2023 17 million

Any comments?