Trump’s tax plans: why liberals can smile (ironically) | Emma Brockes

Those who believe in higher taxes will finally get them though only to give the richest a break, writes Guardian columnist Emma Brockes

The last week of the year in New York was one of arctic chill, a giant penis mural and people calling in to radio shows to freak out about the Trump tax plan. All week, NPR (National Public Radio) has emitted an unremitting stream of low-level panic as New Yorkers try to come to terms with the massive tax overhaul which, for them and millions of other Americans, will almost certainly mean a higher tax bill next year.

It has been speculated that the Trump plan targets New York and California as retribution for voting against him, but that seems to give too much credit to the man. Irrespective, there is no question that they are among those hit hardest by Trump’s decision to limit interest deductions on mortgages above $750,000 (£555,000) and reduce deductions for state and local taxes, painfully high in New York, from federal tax returns. Meanwhile, corporate tax rates are being slashed and inheritance tax will eventually be phased out.

Many of these measures target what in America is labelled the “middle class”, an extremely broad bracket that covers almost everyone who isn’t a billionaire or a recipient of welfare, and a reminder of how differently that term plays in the US than in Britain. Middle class, in the US, is not a pejorative with the silent prefix “smug”, but a byword for your average working person – and they are scrambling to find loopholes.

In Sacramento, local news stations reported lines around the block outside the federal tax building as residents tried to pay their property taxes before the end of the year, and squeak in under 2017 rules. (Not so fast, said the IRS, warning taxpayers that this move wouldn’t be considered legitimate unless those taxes were also “assessed” in 2017). Accountants worked overtime advising clients to give generously to charity, or buy big-ticket items that might qualify for deductions before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, liberals who believe in higher taxes could only smile at the irony of their wish coming true, not as a measure to deepen investment in social services, but to give a tax break to the rich. Happy New Year.

His finest hour, a flat speech

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Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. ‘Listening to the original, I was struck by Churchill’s flat delivery.’ Photograph: Allstar/Working Title Films

Darkest Hour, the new Winston Churchill movie, just opened in the US. The trailer shows Gary Oldman doing the “fight on the beaches” speech. Listening to the original recording on YouTube this week, I was struck once again by Churchill’s flat delivery. Contrary to the movie version, Churchill (although there have been claims an actor was used as a stand-in) sounds low-key, weary, like a man stating the obvious.

Come come, he seems to say, we are out of puff but let’s plough on. Dreariness, perhaps, had a more reassuring effect at the time than high drama.

Toying with emotions

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‘The dolls are supposed to be “pretty” but look like bugs.’ Photograph: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

A friend generously gave my children a doll each for Christmas, and it was the last nail in the coffin of my hold-out against Frozen. I don’t mind dolls per se; I liked Sindy as a kid. (I also had Action Man, who I made drive over Sindy’s head in his jeep before tending lovingly to her wounds.)

But the Frozen merchandise is creepy – the dolls have huge not-to-scale eyes that are supposed to be “pretty” but make them look like bugs, or something from a male designer’s disagreeable fantasy. We had a sticky moment after opening the gifts when it became apparent that my friend had mistakenly bought Beauty from Beauty and the Beast in place of Anna. “It’s Anna and Elsa!” I cried. “That’s not Anna,” said one of my children. “Yes it is,” I said. “Where’s her cape?” she said. “I don’t know,” I said, and tried to communicate in my tone that the discussion was closed. “She probably left it at ballet.”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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