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What to Expect for Space and Sci/Tech Under President Trump?

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US President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t strike as one who knows – or cares – a lot about space, science, and technology. Since the announcement of Trump’s victory, there have been a lot of headlines about a possible catastrophic impact of the upcoming Trump presidency on space and sci/tech in the US. However, a smart businessman – and Trump is one – knows that he must have competent advisers for issues on which he is ignorant, or uninterested.

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Trump is not known for always listening to his advisers. But, when he hasn’t listened, it was about issues he did know and care about – and the elections’ results show that he was right. I think we can assume that, when it comes to space and sci/tech issues, President Trump won’t have strong feelings one way or another, and therefore he will listen to his advisers.

The Trump campaign brought former congressman Robert Smith Walker, known as Bob Walker, as its space policy advisor. Space News reports. Walker is a space policy veteran who was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry in 2001, and served on the President’s Commission on Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, which submitted its final report titled “A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover” in 2004.

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Now Walker, who seems likely to receive a formal space advisory role in the Trump administration, is drafting a space policy.

“I would describe what we came up with in four terms,” said Walker.

“It’s visionary, it’s disruptive, it’s coordinating and it’s resilient.”

Among the highlights of the developing new space policy, a commitment to global space leadership, a re-institution of the National Space Council, the development of military hypersonics and small satellite technologies, new private and public partners – including China – for the International Space Station, and increased reliance on the commercial sector, in particular for low Earth orbit access and operations.

Two points seem especially worth noting and praising: setting a goal of human exploration of the solar system by the end of the century, which according to Walker would serve as a “stretch goal” to drive technology developments to a stronger degree than simply a goal of humans to Mars, and shifting NASA budgets to “deep space achievements” rather than Earth science and climate research.

Walker is persuaded that the US should return to the moon. It is “essential to have the moon as a part of our planned missions headed for Mars and beyond,” he said.

“I can’t speak for the campaign or the transition team, but I will say personally I think going to the moon as a part of an extended presence in space is vital.”

The 2004 final report of the President’s Commission recommended to “extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations.” Similarly, other space policy leaders, notably including the Director of the European Space Agency (ESA), are persuaded that we should go back to the moon and establish permanent lunar outposts.

Back to Big, Forward Looking, Visionary Sci/Tech Initiatives

Highway worksWhen it comes to science and technology, it seems that President-elect Trump has already a top-class adviser: the billionaire businessman Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook, one of the very few Silicon Valley tech titans to support Donald Trump before the elections (many more are likely to support Trump now, but that’s too easy).

Thiel, who has been demonized by the liberal Silicon Valley elites and most of the tech press for supporting Trump and donating $1.25 million to his campaign, seems to be in a position to reap some rewards now that his bet on Trump has paid off, notes The New York Times. But he said in an interview that he has no desire to have a formal role in Trump’s administration. However, “I’ll try to help the president in any way I can,” he said.

Thiel added that Silicon Valley should now work with the rest of the country and the world, instead of spending the next four years issuing denunciatory tweets on Twitter. “For a day or two, that’s fine,” he said. “But I hope Silicon Valley will be more productive than that.”

In his recent speech at the National Press Club, Thiel mentioned the Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, and the Apollo Program as examples of big, forward-looking government programs. “But we have fallen very far from that standard,” he said, echoing his own famous remark:

“We were promised flying cars and we got 140 characters.”

It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley, which these days does too much 140 characters and not enough flying cars, doesn’t like Thiel.

Instead of 140 characters, Thiel wants to go back to big, forward looking, visionary sci/tech initiatives – the kind of projects described in “What happened to the future,” the manifesto of his Founders Fund. In his book “Zero to One,” Thiel – a transhumanist – proposes to accelerate “takeoff toward a much better future,” perhaps toward “new technologies so powerful as to transcend the current limits of our understanding.”

It appears that President Trump will have excellent advisers, with or without formal roles, for space, science, and technology policy. It’s to be hoped, of course, that he’ll listen to them.

Images from Pixabay and Pexels.

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House Pushes Forward With Trump Tax Plan Amid Dissent

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The U.S. House of Representatives is pushing hard to move President Trump’s tax proposal through the legislative process, even as growing dissent rattles confidence in the landmark bill.

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Congressional Analysis

An analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation concluded Tuesday that tax cuts for lower- and middle-income Americans would fade over the next decade at a faster rate than those for high earners. The analysis found that four out of every five tax filers earning between $50,000 and $75,000 would receive tax relief from the bill in 2019. However, by 2027, that figure would drop to 60%.

Meanwhile, those earning more than $1 million would also see their tax savings fade, albeit at a slower rate than the smaller income brackets. In 2019, about three-quarters of those earning $1 million-plus will get tax relief, a figure that drops to two-thirds in 2027.

The conclusion could spark another round of debate as the Trump administration seeks to push forward on tax reform this year. The tax plan has faced attack from both sides of the political divide, with high-tax state Republicans criticizing individual deductions for state and local taxes.

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The reform bill, which promises to reduce the number of tax brackets, cut the corporate tax rate and implement a one-time repatriation fee, has been described as the most ambitious since the Reagan administration. Through Reagan’s tax reform, the U.S. economy managed to grow by an average of 3.4% annually until the beginning of the Obama administration. And that includes three recessions between the two presidents.

To his credit, President Jimmy Carer before him implemented the biggest regulatory overhaul in postwar history.

Mid-Terms Loom

Republicans have good reason to raise questions about Trump’s tax reform, especially those in high-tax states such as California. Already faced with a difficult re-election next year, California’s GOP Representative Darrell Issa said he wouldn’t endorse changes that “may make it the tremendous burden felt by California taxpayers even worse.”

Republican Ed Gillespie of Virginia was defeated in state elections on Tuesday, a clear sign that the GOP-controlled Congress is under attack. South Carolina is seen as an important barometer of the Democrats’ chances of winning in crucial swing states ahead of next year’s midterms.

Democrat Ralph Northam will be the next governor of Virgina, various news outlets reported late Tuesday.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Libertarian Speaks: Ron Paul Says U.S. Government Should Not Intervene in Cryptocurrency

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The U.S. government has no place intervening in cryptocurrency, according to former U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul.

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In an interview with Kitco on Oct. 27, Paul said the government should “stay out” of bitcoin if people want to use it. The former Congressman acknowledged that he didn’t know much about cryptocurrency, but that he was “amazed” by the market’s growth.

“I take some very strong political positions on competing currencies,” Paul said, when asked if he was a believer of cryptocurrency. “And if you can come up with a competing currency, and there is no fraud, I think it should be.”

Although a lot has been said about bitcoin’s black market roots, Paul says government involvement shouldn’t be a given. That message has been lost on several nations, which have grown uneasy about the growth and widespread adoption of cryptocurrency. Major economies like  China, South Korea and Russia have already stepped in to halt the expansion of crypto-assets.  However, most policymakers appear to be open to regulating cryptocurrency insofar as its criminal elements can be controlled.

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Libertarians like Ron Paul are very weary of government involvement in all aspects of life. It should therefore come as no surprise that bitcoin and its altcoin competitors have received strong buy-in from the libertarian, free market community. While the United States has a strong libertarian presence across key segments of its society, this has largely failed to translate into meaningful political reform.

Bitcoin’s market capitalization climbed back above $100 billion over the weekend, with the sum of all coins valued at around $179 billion. Cryptocurrency is by far the fastest growing asset class of 2017, dwarfing stocks, crude oil and other traditional financial assets.

“I am amazed,” Paul said, ” at all the capitalization on these cryptocurrencies. It’s a huge amount of money.”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Draft of U.S. Tax Bill Coming Within Days, According to GOP Lawmaker

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It won’t be long now before congressional Republicans table their first draft bill to reform the U.S. tax code, according to House conservative Mark Meadows. GOP lawmakers are under the gun to meet President Trump’s ambitious goal of delivering a major tax overhaul by the end of 2017.

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Draft Bill Coming in Less Than Ten Days

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows says the House Ways and Means Committee has promised to release a preliminary tax bill about seven days after this Thursday’s vote on a budget resolution. Based on that timeline, the tax bill should be published on or before Nov. 3, according to Bloomberg.

Last week, Republicans stuck together to pass a 2018 budget plan that many say is the preamble to tax reform. The budget resolution was approved by a 51-49 vote. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the lone GOP member to vote against the measure.

Before giving the final approval, lawmakers must go through another voting process that will begin Thursday and run into Friday morning.

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The new plan, which was first unveiled by the White House this past spring, is pursuing drastic changes to the tax regime. This includes reducing the number of tax brackets, slashing the corporate tax rate and instilling a one-time repatriation tax to encourage multinationals to bring offshore profits back home.

Challenges Remain

President Trump and fellow Republicans face numerous challenges implementing the most ambitious tax reform of a generation. This includes balancing promises of major overhaul against a self-imposed $1.5 trillion limit on the size of those cuts over the decade.

Analysts say that President Trump has considerable leeway to influence the proposal, but that the ultimate penning of the bill is a legislative process. This means it will be Congress, not the president, that will put the final details together.

Tax overhaul was a cornerstone of Trump’s election campaign. Combined with deregulation of key industries and massive infrastructure spending, tax breaks are expected to boost economic growth and make the U.S. more resilient to cyclical downturns.

That’s exactly what happened under the Reagan tax cut more than three decades ago. Although often maligned today, the Reagan tax plan laid the foundation for 25 years of strong, noninflationary growth. The U.S. economy grew an average of 3.4% annually between Reagan and Obama despite three recessions. To be sure, President Carter also helped lay the foundation by leading the biggest deregulatory effort in the postwar era.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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