Sweden Moving Away From Socialism

Grind for September 12th, 2018
“All of my youth growing up in my Italian family was focused around the table. That’s where I learned about love.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Good Goals

The Headline

Republican lawmakers seek to make individuals’ tax cuts permanent

The Grind

House Republicans on Monday unveiled a three-bill package that aims to make permanent the cuts to individual tax rates outlined in last year’s policy overhaul. Those changes are set to expire in 2025.

The package also seeks to:

— Lock in the new standard deduction and the special deduction for owners of pass-through businesses

— Eliminate restrictions on MEPs to help small businesses offer better retirement plans

— Remove the age cap that prevents Americans older than 70.5 to make deductible contributions to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA

— Enable individuals to deposit up to $2,500 per year in after-tax earnings into a new type of universal savings account that can be used for non-retirement purposes

— Allow parents to take up to $7,500 from a retirement plan penalty-free within one year of the birth or adoption of a child

— Permit parents to use up to $10,000 from a 529 college savings account to help their kids with student loan payments

The Implication

Last year’s tax overhaul is a hot topic among many upcoming races for the House and Senate, with Republicans viewing the tax cuts as good for the economy and Democrats viewing them as a gift to the rich.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) calls the 2017 law a “scam” and sees the new package as a way of “putting the wealthiest, most privileged Americans ahead of average, hardworking families.”

More than anything else, the proposal sends a clear message to voters about GOP priorities ahead of the midterm elections.

“This legislation is our commitment to the American worker to ensure our tax code remains the most competitive in the world,” says Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was the principal architect of last year’s tax overhaul.

All Tied Up

The Headline

Swedish general election leaves opposing parties deadlocked

The Grind

Sweden’s general election this weekend resulted in a tie between left and right factions, with the governing Social Democrats scoring the lowest in a century with only 28.4% of the vote and the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) winning an unprecedented 17.6%.

The results reflect growing discontent with the changes brought on by the arrival of 163,000 Muslim immigrants (more per capita than any other nation in Europe).

Sweden, which has long prided itself on its generous welfare system, now struggles with shortages of doctors and teachers, long waits for operations, and an increase in violent crime.

These problems have coincided with an increase in support for the SD, a party long shunned for its extremist views and ties to the neo-Nazis.

The Implication

Like the UK, Sweden has become accustomed to coalition governments and did not expect any party to win a majority this time. Sweden’s new government will require cross-bloc alliances between the center-right and center-left or support from the SD to pass legislation.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who leads a center-left coalition government made up of his Social Democrats and the Green Party (with ad hoc support from the Left), says the two mainstream parties have a “moral responsibility” to form a government.

On the other side is Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson, who leads a center-right alliance comprised of his Moderates, the Center, the Liberals, and the Christian Democrats.

Both sides, which each hold about 40% of the votes in Parliament, have refused to team up with the SD.

“The Sweden Democrats can never, and will never, offer anything that will help society,” says Löfven. “They will only increase division and hate.”

PM Lofven faces a confidence vote in two weeks. If he is forced out, Parliament will be dissolved and fresh negotiations will begin.

Analysts predict Kristersson will attempt to form a minority center-right government, possibly in coordination with the Christian Democrats and with implied support from the SD. Such an arrangement would give the populist party an opportunity to influence policy (particularly immigration policy) in exchange for votes.

SD leader Jimmie Akesson has already promised to wield “real influence” in Parliament. “We will have an immense influence over what happens in Sweden in the coming weeks, months, years,” he said.

Did you know… There’s a cruise ship named “The World” where residents permanently live as it travels around the globe.