Audit Notes: Hollywood Rolls, Ryan’s Loopholes, Regulation and Racing

Looking at this Wall Street Journal graphic, you’d think Hollywood has been on some kind of epic roll the last five or six years:

All of these movies came out after 2006. Unless ticket sales suddenly became front loaded around that time, this means the numbers and ranking aren’t adjusted for inflation, which the Journal doesn’t mention in the graphic or the story.

That’s a problem when you’re talking about all-time records.

— James Kwak dings The New York Times’s James B. Stewart for missing a big element of Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which Stewart wrote would raise taxes on the rich.

That just doesn’t sound right, and Kwak says it’s not, pointing out that Ryan’s own budget advocates against raising taxes on capital, much less raising them by two-thirds or more.

Stewart assumes that Ryan wants to raise capital gains taxes because that’s the only way to justify a 25 percent top rate as anything other than a massive giveaway to the rich. But Ryan himself has said he doesn’t want to raise capital gains taxes.* It really is a massive giveaway to the rich. The reason Ryan won’t specify the “loopholes” he wants to close is that he can’t: if he made a list of tax expenditures to eliminate but didn’t touch the preferences for investment income, it would be patently obvious that he is waging class warfare on behalf of the 1%.

The New York Times has an excellent investigation on high death rates at American racetracks, which put down an average twenty-four horses a week.

Read the whole thing (it’s long and worth it), but this quote shows how, just like on Wall Street, weak or nonexistent regulation can encourage abuses:

Without a national law regulating drugs in racing, New Mexico regulators can be as lenient as they wish in disciplining drug violators.

Trainers in New Mexico who overmedicate horses with Flunixin get a free pass on their first violation, a $200 fine on the second and a $400 fine on the third, records show.

In Indiana, by contrast, winnings are forfeited after the first drug offense. “If someone who violates the rule thinks the penalties are going to be mild or nonexistent, then breaking the rules is just a cost of doing business,” said Joe Gorajec, the executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,